Off topic: Obscure TM-assisted projects: what is this all about?
Thread poster: Yehezkel Tenenboim

Yehezkel Tenenboim  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:19
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Oct 16, 2018

Hello! I'm totally new here, and quite new to translation.

You've all done them: strange TM-assisted projects for technological firms, full of thousands of obscure phrases, usually out of websites or manuals, that are nearly impossible to translate right.

I'm doing one right now and am struggling with "User audit purge with retention period", "Initial Summon E-holdings and Zero title Publishing", and similar vague terminology.

I'm not asking for advice. Wha
... See more
Hello! I'm totally new here, and quite new to translation.

You've all done them: strange TM-assisted projects for technological firms, full of thousands of obscure phrases, usually out of websites or manuals, that are nearly impossible to translate right.

I'm doing one right now and am struggling with "User audit purge with retention period", "Initial Summon E-holdings and Zero title Publishing", and similar vague terminology.

I'm not asking for advice. What I'd like to understand is the logic and business scheme that hide behind these things. What does the client gain here? If I was a firm and had such text to translate, I would immediately recognise that the only way to do this is to sit with a translator in the same room and discuss each sentence and what meaning needs to be conveyed. These TM endeavours seem to me like a complete waste of time and money, and I can't possibly think how the results are usable in any way.

The memories are always false and useless. Since I don't know the context even a little, I just improvise. This can't result in usable translation.

You may say, "The clients use the power of the masses. One translator perhaps can't get it right, but a hundred can". First, isn't it a huge expense, to pay a hundred translators to do the same job? And second, ever heard of herd behaviour? I would very often approve a false memory just because I know I can't really improve it.

So who invented this whole genius concept, and how can it possibly work?
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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:19
German to English
Hazard of globalization Oct 16, 2018

Part of the problem is that non-native speakers are often employed to create manuals, that is, documents are written by individuals who are knowledgeable in a certain field, but have no clear concept of how to construct a coherent sentence in the target language. For example, the Brazilian office of a multinational may be assigned to write the update instructions for software used throughout the company – in the common language used throughout the enterprise, say English or German. The result ... See more
Part of the problem is that non-native speakers are often employed to create manuals, that is, documents are written by individuals who are knowledgeable in a certain field, but have no clear concept of how to construct a coherent sentence in the target language. For example, the Brazilian office of a multinational may be assigned to write the update instructions for software used throughout the company – in the common language used throughout the enterprise, say English or German. The result is often gibberish.

Over 20 years ago I worked on a translation of a massive IT manual. Almost half of the segments were unintelligible at first reading due to syntactical or grammar errors in the source language, German. Adjectives followed nouns, articles or even verbs were missing, incorrect prepositions were used, indicating to me that the authors were native speakers of different language groups – and that there was no checking/editing by a native speaker. It was Hell.

For the past few years I've been editing English-language manuals for a multinational that have been written by non-native speakers of English. Although the technical terminology is generally correct, sometimes an instruction is beyond normal comprehension and has to be queried. For example, "Put shape back" turned out to mean "Replace all covers".

On the other hand, even in the case of native speaker authors, the wrong people have been chosen to create documents, that is, people who understand processes but are clueless regarding how to express concepts clearly.

Document creation modules and translation memories that recycle intelligible sentences only add to the confusion.

Good luck!


[Edited at 2018-10-16 18:58 GMT]
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Obscure TM-assisted projects: what is this all about?

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