I'm mighty apprehensive about this

Those of us who are sometimes (or often) called upon to translate speeches and other texts by government officials are often appalled by their sloppy use of language. This, of course, makes it all the more difficult to translate their "texts" into good English (or any other language.)

However, ein breira, there's nothing for it, you have to be especially careful when translating such material.

Example:

Apparently, a certain minister, say of Coffee & Tea, wrote or said that –

בשנים האחרונות, בצד המודעות לסביבה ושינויי האקלים, בעידן שאחרי ועידת באלי, אנו רואים שינוי חד בתפיסה של האנושות לגבי המים.

The translator for some reason wrote:

"In the last years, alongside awareness regarding the environment and climate changes, in the post Bali Era, we have seen the sharp change in mankind's apprehension regarding water."

Forget all the other jarring bits, such as "in the last years" rather than the more idiomatic "in recent years" and "the sharp change" instead of "a sharp change". But "apprehension"??? What was he/she thinking of?

Oh, wait. You wanted some solutions. Alternatives include, but are not restricted to:

... people's conception of water

... the way people think of water

... humanity's attitude to water

and so on.

Another thing that bugs me: Why wasn't the minister's speech edited? Wouldn't it be nice if the original speech, in Hebrew, had been edited and polished before it was given to the translator? And wouldn't it be nice if the translated version had been edited and polished before the minister gave his speech at some international conference?...

4 comments:

Miriam Erez said...

Tried twice to respond to Honda Lost Me, but it never got published. How come?

Sparkle said...

Editing a speech before a conference? That's just crazy talk.
One must wonder about a translator who can't even translate literally...

Ruchie said...

You are of course aware that the minister very likely had little or nothing to do with the writing or translation of the speech, with that job of course relegated to one of his media or other advisors, depending on the topic. I have worked with a number of "public officials" (i.e. politicians) and it is rare for them to be involved at any level, beyond actually reading the speech (with a few rare exceptions).

Nina R. Davis said...

In a sense, that's even worse...
A minister or politician can be forgiven for not being a good writer. But you'd expect media advisors and PR people to be proficient, eloquent, like the guys on West Wing... (Ha!)
Some of the worst texts I come across are those written by PR people.

Post a Comment