03 February 2023

A very persuasive mistranslation

This morning I participated in a discussion with other translators on how to turn a persuasive source text into an equally persuasive target document. The text under discussion was an interview given by Jean-Marc Jancovici, a French expert in energy and global warming, published in the September 2022 issue of L'Hémicycle.

A tenuous but potentially promising train of thought came to me a few hours later, triggered by an article (Translating the Bible is a vexed task, as a new book shows) that I had read recently in The Economist. The passage of interest is:

"In the Old Testament, Isaiah said an almah would give birth. Today most scholars agree that it probably just meant “young girl”. The translation of Isaiah’s Hebrew into pre-Christian Greek (in the Jewish text known as the Septuagint) rendered it as parthenos, or “virgin”. For Christians, this bolsters the idea that Jesus’s birth fulfilled a prophecy."

My train of thought will, I'm sure, sound provocative to many, but I see here a compelling example of an extraordinarily persuasive mistranslation that will, I trust, interest my colleagues who asked if I could provide any examples of persuasive writing and translation.

I recall learning from other articles and from a translation conference that included a paper by a member of the team working with Natân André Chouraqui (1917-2007) that one reason the Aramaic almah was rendered in pre-Christian Greek as parthenos (παρθένος), or virgin, was to align the translation with the target readership's strong preconceptions regarding the birth of deities and the like, and in this way make the text more persuasive. See, for instance, Translation for Transformation: André Chouraqui and His Unique Contribution to Interfaith Dialogue and Friendship.

Pause now to think for a moment about the impact of this decision on Christians, world history and goodness knows what else over the past two millennia. If ever there was a persuasive mistranslation, this is it.

See also: Young Mary vs Virgin Mary: A mistranslation of epic proportions.

25 January 2023

dtSearch: Big news for translators who use macOS

Versions of dtSearch now available for macOS and Linux

Since 1998, I have sung the praises of dtSearch, an indexing & search engine that enables users to index then search, among all the documents on all storage devices connected to your workstation, any text in any file format containing text.

For more background, see: 
1) Term mining pioneer
2) dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch (15 June 2015) and 
3) dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch, latest.

I've used and loved it on Micosoft Windows computers for years. When I decided to move from Windows PCs (back) to Mac, the main reason that I also chose to install Parallels and run Windows in parallel with MacOS was
(a) so that I would still have access to dtSearch,
(b) so that I didn't have to relearn my preferred shortcuts, and
(c) to avoid losing the many tweaks made to Word for Win10 over the years.

I recently discovered that the dtSearch team released a version for macOS in 2021. This is big news for Mac-based translators and Mac users in general in need of a powerful indexing and search tool.

On this page, I found this info:

The macOS version of the dtSearch Engine is 64-bit and requires macOS Sierra (10.12) or later.  The macOS version has a C++, Java API, and .NET Standard APIs like the Linux version.  Beginning with version 2021.01, the macOS version includes both Intel and Apple Silicon support.

Not supported in the macOS version: RAR archive support, External File Parser API, External Language Analyzer API, External Thesaurus API.

dtSearch is particularly useful for low-tech translators, by which I mean those who do not use MT, TenTs (translation environment tools), and the like, as this one simple tool gives them easy access to vast text and translation resources quickly and conveniently. 

12 January 2023

French-English Glossary of Naval Technology v23 (#NavTechGloss v23)


This glossary is intended primarily for French-to-English translators specialising in naval defence technical journalism. It attempts to deal with terminological challenges specific to journalism, including access to and equivalents for the many synonyms, multiple designations and other devices that journalists use in both English and French -- though perhaps more in the latter than in the former -- to avoid repetitions.

The glossary began as a simple Word document over 25 years ago and has simply grown and grown. To accommodate its constant growth, I have adopted a custom page format (50 cm x 50 cm). The idea is not to print it but to use it on your computer. Better still, index it using an indexing search engine like dtSearch.

To download click here: NavTechGloss_Dyson_FR-EN_v23

Should the link fail due to a hacker or for any other reason, please let me know by submitting a comment.

21 November 2022

Steve's terminology finds

Please find below a link to a personal collection of internet 'finds' that may be of interest to other FR => EN translators. Many of the entries come from: 

Feedback and comments welcome.

If you have any queries, please contact me directly or leave a comment.

Link: Termino finds_FR-EN_SteveDyson_Nov2022

Should the link fail, whether due to a hacker or for any other reason, please let me know by submitting a comment.

Shifters' FR-EN glossary on decarbonizing the economy

Please find below a link to a working FR-EN glossary on decarbonization and related matters. This glossary was produced and is regularly updated by The Shifters (site in French) a French association providing support services, including translations by volunteers, for The Shift Project.

The glossary currently comprises 236 entries and uses US spelling. File format: Excel. Most entries correspond to queries raised by voluntary translators in the course of their work on translations for the Shift Project. No attempt has been made to systematically expand the glossary. I have reviewed most of the entries, sometimes reorganizing the content and adding information or links.
Please disregard comments addressed to individual members of the team.

The entry on sobriété will be of special interest to many.

Want to work as a volunteer translator? Check out The Shifters site. Experienced French-to-(mother-tongue) English translators welcome.

If you have any queries, please contact me directly or leave a comment.

To download click here: Shifters FR-EN gloss++_v8.xlsx

Should the link fail, whether due to a hacker or for any other reason, please let me know by submitting a comment.

21 November 2020

Euphemism of the month

In One craft conquers air, sea and subsea domains, MaritimeJournal technical journalist Jake Frith writes:

VICTA is focused primarily on the defence market and one of her hallmarks is the inconspicuous insertion and extraction of ‘task-oriented force packages’ (ED: military euphemism of the month) at range.  Extending that range by including airborne delivery offers further flexibility and so enhances the potential of the craft.

The comment 'military euphemism of the month' highlights one technical journal's view of a technical term used by other technical journalists working in an allied domain. Portions of the maritime domain and industry are, of course, close to and even overlap with portions of the military domain and industries.

Like other journalists and writers, technical journalists read each other's work, monitor, and occasionally, as here, comment publicly on each other's terminology. Needless to say, translators of technical journalism should follow suit.

The 'euphemism of the month' may be intended as cheeky or possibly even cutting, but I think it is also fair to say that technical journalists in all domains are quick to pick up on all types of new terminology, including euphemisms, acronyms, and the like, not to mention constantly changing comparisons and metaphors that arise, then become fashionable before either disappearing or coming to be seen as clichés. Technical journalists track all this in their domains and in the language or languages in which they write professionally. Their translators need to constantly do the same in both their source and target languages; the latter even more closely than the former.

A very persuasive mistranslation

This morning I participated in a discussion with other translators on how to turn a persuasive source text into an equally persuasive target...