Translation of Manuals
|2.||Difference between translation of literature and technical texts||4|
|3.||One or more languages in the same manual||6|
|4.||One language for a region where live people speaking different tongues?||7|
|5.||Which language should the original be written in?||8|
|6.||The demands to a translator of a manual||8|
If you are looking for an instruction manual, user guide, operating instructions so that you can properly use something you have, it is important that manual is translated in understandable way as well it is important that it is user-friendly. “Effective information is the objective of all documentation, whether the documentation is technical or non-technical, and the communication objective must not be constrained by unrealistic writing guidelines. The guidelines in the document preserve the flexibility that enables a writer to present information to the user in a format and in a structure that facilitate understanding. They are based on the principle that writing for translation assists the human translator as well as the translation software.” (About Translation, Peter Newmark, Multilingual Matters, 1991).
Just translating a manual is most often not enough. It should be localised because documents for a foreign country involves:
technical changes because of different electrical outlet systems, rules about electrical grounding, local style typewriter/PC keyboards, etc.
different traditions for use, e.g. kitchen appliances, or medical equipment.
different education levels of professional users.
changing any legal blurbs, disclaimers, etc., you might have in the text.
the needs for references to the local standards, etc. instead of the standards, etc. of the country of origin.
different laws and rules for e.g. workers' safety protection.
2. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRANSLATION OF LITERATURE AND TECHNICAL TEXTS
After a research I have done while writing my essay I found out that the translation between languages is a tricky business: the phrase “lost in translation” is a commonplace used to convey the idea that much of the point of a text in one language can be lost or corrupted when that text is rendered into a second language. It is, in short, very hard to achieve a good translation.
Suppose you are asked to translate a poem that you know and enjoy from Latvian into English. Your knowledge of English may be quite extensive, but we all know how hard is to convey the sense of a poem in any language other than that in which it was written. Achieving a good translation here is very difficult indeed. At the end of the day you may even decide that, with respect to this particular poem no good translation can be fabricated. You could very well think this even though you were virtually bilingual in Latvian and English.
On the other hand, suppose you were asked to translate an instruction manual from Latvian into English. If we suppose that the manual clearly and accurately describes the setting up and functioning of a washing machine. In contrast to the case of poetry you would probably consider this a much easier task. The languages between which translation is to be effected are the same, but the task is easier because it is less difficult to see what is wanted in the second case. Successful translation of the washing machine manual requires this: a monolingual reader of English should be able to tell from his reading of the manual how to set up and operate the washing machine. No such simple criterion of success can be stated in the case of poetry translation. There in no one thing that a poem is used for, hence, there is no easy way to say whether a translation works.
What these examples illustrate is that the quality of a translation is relative to the specific purpose for which the translation is required. When people say that translation is very difficult they usually have literary examples in mind and literature has no simple agreed purpose. Things are different in the case of instruction manuals. Since we know what they are for, it is relatively easy to say whether a translation is adequate.
If we presume from the above that translation of manuals is comparatively easier achievable than translation of poetry then I would like to give bad examples of translation of manuals. As I mentioned before, a monolingual reader of English should be able to tell from his reading of the manual how to set up and operate chosen equipment. Let’s see what happens when careless translations become humorous to the consumer and embarrassing to the firm. One of the fields of poor translation is public signs translated from foreign languages and designed to assist English – speaking visitors. Public signs also are sources of lost meaning in the translation. “In an Acapulco hotel when trying to promote quality control, “the manager has personally passed all the water served here.” A sign in a cocktail lounge in Norway reads, “Ladies are requested not to have children at the bar.” In Moscow a sign in a hotel that welcomes you to “visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.” The zoo in Budapest tells visitors, “please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.”
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