A Thread for Translators

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A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:17 am

I was reading a bilingual corporate newsletter and while the English translation was very good, I noticed a few things that made me go Hmmm... :mrgreen:

1. リーマンショック translated as Lehman Shock. Do we use this when referring to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers? Lehman Shock does seem to have some currency in the English language press, but not much. References to Lehman Brothers are generally about its failure/collapse/bankruptcy.

2.優秀な人材 translated as "excellent human resources." Again, is this how we talk about human resources? Or is this better translated as skilled/talented/qualified people? Excellent human resources sounds like it should be on the front of a T-shirt.

3. Translating company departments. If you're familiar with corporate Japan, then you know that department are sometimes (often?) subdivided into smaller units such as Dept.1, Dept. 2 or Group 1 or Group 2, and so on. The question is: Would you translate the Dept. 2 bit? I suppose it all depends on what your client demands, but Sales Department, Group. 2 strikes me as very awkward and not very informative. In many instances, knowing who will be reading the translation, such as engineers who don't really care about the finer details of someone's post in a company, I've often left out these details.

4. In an interview with the head of development, he says, モチベーション高く貢献しています, which was translated as "We are all pepped up to work for this" [globalization blah blah blah]. Pepped up? :huh: Poor word choice or is "pepped up" used more frequently in other parts of the world? It sounds too casual and nerdy to my ears.

5. A blurb about the company basketball team says that so-and-so決勝ゴールを挙げた, or scored the decisive goal. Two points here: 1) When points are scored, even in basketball, are they generally referred to as ゴール in Japanese?2) Katakana is not your friend. You can't or shouldn't translate this as a goal. It would be better to phrase this as scoring the winning basket or winning points.

I just felt like nitpicking. Comments?

allblacks

Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by allblacks » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:26 am

I agree with you even though Im not a translator by trade.

One thing I heard first hand from someone working for Panasonic as a temp: There is a woman in her 50s that runs the whole translation show for them out of Osaka. Apparently what she says goes. Have a look for yourself:
2
This is the world's largest 103 in.full high defininition plasma TV now in the market.
Panasonic flat TV technologies have evolved for plasma panel.
The newly developed NeoPDP technology has been incorporated into two types of plasma panel.
one is a super high-eatfficiency PDP that achieves triple luminance efficiency,
while reducing the power consumption to 1/3 fo the previous models yet achieving the same brightness.

The other one is an ultra-thin PDP just 8.8 mm,approximately 1/3 inch.

Panasonic continues to accelerate its technology development,according to characteristics of each device.
in order to facilitate the continuing evolution of flat-panel VIErA TVs and respond to global customers.

3
Here is our very brand new PDP and LCD which was announced on 13 January
For LCD,we offer some colors,so you can select a color as you like.
which color do you like?

LCD is equipped with the internet.you will be able to enjoy video on demand services called 'AcTVila'.
'Link to VIErA' hav elso developed for ECO.
The power is automatically turned off when equipments are not used.

Panasonic center Osaka introduced new products and communicate with customers and collecet voice of customers.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:30 am

Eewww! :ack:
Although I'd gladly pay 2,000 yen to see a show by a band called Super High-Eatfficiency :mrgreen:

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:17 pm

Shawn wrote:1. リーマンショック translated as Lehman Shock. Do we use this when referring to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers? Lehman Shock does seem to have some currency in the English language press, but not much. References to Lehman Brothers are generally about its failure/collapse/bankruptcy.
I'd probably go with something along the lines of global financial crisis seeing as that's what led to Lehman closing its doors, and is more commonly used in the West/English to reference what happened. Although it may depend on exactly what the report is referring to. If it is indeed referring to the global meltdown at that point in time, then global fionancial crisis works. However if it is referring to something more Japan-centric (although I couldn't say what off the top of my head) then Lehman Shock might work. The リーマンショック wiki page has "Lehman Shock" in English, although this could and prolly is just a direct translation.
Shawn wrote:2.優秀な人材 translated as "excellent human resources." Again, is this how we talk about human resources? Or is this better translated as skilled/talented/qualified people? Excellent human resources sounds like it should be on the front of a T-shirt.
I don't mind excellent human resources, although depending on context I would have no problem rewording it to say something like "Our company has tremendously qualified people" or "experts in their fields" or whatever really. Doesn't need to be a direct translation.
Shawn wrote:3. Translating company departments.
Yep agree with your solution. Audience is everything is cases such as this.
Shawn wrote:4. In an interview with the head of development, he says, モチベーション高く貢献しています, which was translated as "We are all pepped up to work for this" [globalization blah blah blah]. Pepped up? :huh: Poor word choice or is "pepped up" used more frequently in other parts of the world? It sounds too casual and nerdy to my ears.
Sounds very (North) American to me. I'd go the more literal route on this one and prolly (again depends on context) say something like "We are highly motivated to achieve/strive for...." I'd definitely use motivated/motivation rather than "pepped up".
Shawn wrote:5. A blurb about the company basketball team says that so-and-so決勝ゴールを挙げた, or scored the decisive goal. Two points here: 1) When points are scored, even in basketball, are they generally referred to as ゴール in Japanese?2) Katakana is not your friend. You can't or shouldn't translate this as a goal. It would be better to phrase this as scoring the winning basket or winning points.
ゴール does seem to have some currency in Japanese, although it refers more to the basket than the actual process of scoring points. But yer definitely right about katakana is not always one's friend, and definitely in this case "basket" or "point(s)" is how scoring is referred to in English basketball terminology. I'd say its just a case of the translator having no idea about basketball and hence not knowing what the correct terminology is in English, which lead him/her to use the katakana.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:18 pm

MacGyver wrote:I'd probably go with something along the lines of global financial crisis seeing as that's what led to Lehman closing its doors, and is more commonly used in the West/English to reference what happened. Although it may depend on exactly what the report is referring to. If it is indeed referring to the global meltdown at that point in time, then global fionancial crisis works. However if it is referring to something more Japan-centric (although I couldn't say what off the top of my head) then Lehman Shock might work. The リーマンショック wiki page has "Lehman Shock" in English, although this could and prolly is just a direct translation.
Actually, re-reading the Japanese wiki, リーマンショック is a much broader event. It refers to the global financial meltdown triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman brothers. In that respect, Lehman Shock or even "the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers" aren't broad enough to cover what the Japanese means. I think you'd have to phrase this along the lines of "the global financial crisis triggered by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers."
MacGyver wrote:Sounds very (North) American to me. I'd go the more literal route on this one and prolly (again depends on context) say something like "We are highly motivated to achieve/strive for...." I'd definitely use motivated/motivation rather than "pepped up".
Yeah, this is why pepped up looks so out of place to me. Talking about being motivated was the first thing that sprang to mind as a translation.
MacGyver wrote:ゴール does seem to have some currency in Japanese, although it refers more to the basket than the actual process of scoring points. But yer definitely right about katakana is not always one's friend, and definitely in this case "basket" or "point(s)" is how scoring is referred to in English basketball terminology. I'd say its just a case of the translator having no idea about basketball and hence not knowing what the correct terminology is in English, which lead him/her to use the katakana.
That's what I thought. As you say, given the context, goal is the wrong translation.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by steki47 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:12 pm

Would "Lehman Crash" be more natural English?

I Googled both and found that "Lehman Shock" got over 600,000 results whereas "Lehman Crash" got over 800,000.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by steki47 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:17 pm

As an aside, my wife briefly worked as a translator. Also, she read a lot of novels and has noticed that the translations of novels into Japanese has definitely improved over the years. When she read Brave New World in Japanese, she said it was really odd and unnatural.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:56 pm

steki47 wrote:Would "Lehman Crash" be more natural English?

I Googled both and found that "Lehman Shock" got over 600,000 results whereas "Lehman Crash" got over 800,000.
Crash might work, but how many of those hits are from Japanese pages?

Anyway, lets look at a sentence to help put this in perspective:

リーマンショック以降、日本を含めた先進国の経済成長が鈍化、市場はほぼ横ばいとなっている一方、新興国は急速な成長を遂げています。
Since the Lehman Shock, economic growth has slowed in Japan and other developed countries, and markets have practically leveled off while developing countries are posting rapid growth.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by redbar » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:26 pm

allblacks wrote:I agree with you even though Im not a translator by trade.

One thing I heard first hand from someone working for Panasonic as a temp: There is a woman in her 50s that runs the whole translation show for them out of Osaka. Apparently what she says goes. Have a look for yourself:
2
This is the world's largest 103 in.full high defininition plasma TV now in the market.
Panasonic flat TV technologies have evolved for plasma panel.
The newly developed NeoPDP technology has been incorporated into two types of plasma panel.
one is a super high-eatfficiency PDP that achieves triple luminance efficiency,
while reducing the power consumption to 1/3 fo the previous models yet achieving the same brightness.

The other one is an ultra-thin PDP just 8.8 mm,approximately 1/3 inch.

Panasonic continues to accelerate its technology development,according to characteristics of each device.
in order to facilitate the continuing evolution of flat-panel VIErA TVs and respond to global customers.

3
Here is our very brand new PDP and LCD which was announced on 13 January
For LCD,we offer some colors,so you can select a color as you like.
which color do you like?

LCD is equipped with the internet.you will be able to enjoy video on demand services called 'AcTVila'.
'Link to VIErA' hav elso developed for ECO.
The power is automatically turned off when equipments are not used.

Panasonic center Osaka introduced new products and communicate with customers and collecet voice of customers.
I bet they're one of the companies that think a 750 TOEIC score means "native-level English ability."

steki47

Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:53 am

Shawn wrote:
steki47 wrote:Would "Lehman Crash" be more natural English?

I Googled both and found that "Lehman Shock" got over 600,000 results whereas "Lehman Crash" got over 800,000.
Crash might work, but how many of those hits are from Japanese pages?

Anyway, lets look at a sentence to help put this in perspective:

リーマンショック以降、日本を含めた先進国の経済成長が鈍化、市場はほぼ横ばいとなっている一方、新興国は急速な成長を遂げています。
Since the Lehman Shock, economic growth has slowed in Japan and other developed countries, and markets have practically leveled off while developing countries are posting rapid growth.
I didn't count the hits, but they were a mix of Japanese and English. It did seem as though "Lehman Shock" had more Japanese entries.

As an aside, if "Lehman Shock" becomes widely used in American news stories, that would a great case of "tail wagging the dog", no?

steki47

Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:55 am

Lamarr wrote:To me, Lehman Crash sounds like the actual collapse of Lehman Brothers, whereas Lehman Shock is the effect of the crash on the banking system, economy etc.
Good point. The bang of a gun being fired is not the same thing as a man dropping dead. Although they are connected.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:02 pm

Lamarr wrote:I think something like "the global recession brought on by the collapse of Lehman Brothers",
Now you're not translating. At best, this is contentious; at worst its wrong. I don't believe that is a valid translation for リーマンショック. "Global financial crisis" is a much better translation in this case. Furthermore, its more recognisable to NES readers, who I am presuming are the target audience. In my experience, if you used your translation, I am certain you'd get a note from the translation PM asking to clarify this statement.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:48 pm

MacGyver wrote:Now you're not translating. At best, this is contentious; at worst its wrong. I don't believe that is a valid translation for リーマンショック. "Global financial crisis" is a much better translation in this case. Furthermore, its more recognisable to NES readers, who I am presuming are the target audience. In my experience, if you used your translation, I am certain you'd get a note from the translation PM asking to clarify this statement.
I was leaning toward what Lamarr had suggested, but after further thought, you're right, Mac. "Global financial crisis" or "bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers" would be preferable given the impact of its collapse. :thumbsup:

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by steki47 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:26 am

MacGyver wrote:
Lamarr wrote:I think something like "the global recession brought on by the collapse of Lehman Brothers",
Now you're not translating. At best, this is contentious; at worst its wrong.
There is a difference between translation and editing. Not sure where one draws the line, though.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Thu Apr 15, 2010 10:30 am

steki47 wrote:There is a difference between translation and editing. Not sure where one draws the line, though.
If you feel you must editorialise, you put a note into the document stating as such. Even if you think the source is blatantly wrong, you don't just change it without letting the PM/author know.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by inflames » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:42 pm

MacGyver wrote:
Lamarr wrote:I think something like "the global recession brought on by the collapse of Lehman Brothers",
Now you're not translating. At best, this is contentious; at worst its wrong. I don't believe that is a valid translation for リーマンショック. "Global financial crisis" is a much better translation in this case. Furthermore, its more recognisable to NES readers, who I am presuming are the target audience. In my experience, if you used your translation, I am certain you'd get a note from the translation PM asking to clarify this statement.
I don't think "global financial crisis" is any better of a translation than "global recession." For one, a series of collapses and near-collapses really brought about the financial crisis in the US, and most of these had actually occurred before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt (or a week or two after it did).

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:55 pm

inflames wrote:I don't think "global financial crisis" is any better of a translation than "global recession."
I was referring to the whole sentence "the global recession brought on by the collapse of Lehman Brothers" rather than "global recession" in isolation. My point was that it is contentious and simplistic IMHO (in spite of what the Japanese wiki site says) to state that a "global recession" was brought about by "the collapse of Lehman Bros." Furthermore, "Lehman Shock" doesn't have a lot of currency in English, which in terms of translation is the crux of the issue. FYI, someone mentioned above about the googits they got for Lehman Shock but sheer numbers alone isn't a fair indication. You'd have to do more research into where and how the phrase "Lehman Shock" is being used.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by inflames » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:01 pm

MacGyver wrote:
inflames wrote:I don't think "global financial crisis" is any better of a translation than "global recession."
I was referring to the whole sentence "the global recession brought on by the collapse of Lehman Brothers" rather than "global recession" in isolation. My point was that it is contentious and simplistic IMHO (in spite of what the Japanese wiki site says) to state that a "global recession" was brought about by "the collapse of Lehman Bros." Furthermore, "Lehman Shock" doesn't have a lot of currency in English, which in terms of translation is the crux of the issue. FYI, someone mentioned above about the googits they got for Lehman Shock but sheer numbers alone isn't a fair indication. You'd have to do more research into where and how the phrase "Lehman Shock" is being used.
I was referring to it in isolation and the whole sentence. I agree with your point about the global recession (and about "Lehman Shock" being a bad translation), but the crisis was already underway when Lehman Brothers collapsed. In Japan, Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy might have marked the start of the crisis, but this isn't the case in the US.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:44 am

PanicInducingGaijin wrote:This one sounds more like bad Japanese leading to a bad translation.
Ah yes that old chestnut. The lazy translators way out when busted for a crappy translation.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:08 pm

Here's one for you: How do you translate monozukuri? Do you try and translate it or do you simply call it monozukuri and leave it at that? Would an audience of general readers understand what monozukuri is?

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Are they the lemmings? » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:33 pm

Shawn wrote:Here's one for you: How do you translate monozukuri? Do you try and translate it or do you simply call it monozukuri and leave it at that? Would an audience of general readers understand what monozukuri is?
In my experience, there are three distinct patterns, all depending on what the client wants.

Some stipulate it as a proper noun. OK, then it's monozukuri. Others want it rendered into English, but with voice given to the nuance of creation and innovation. Still others use it as a synonym for manufacturing, but choose to use ものづくり instead of 製造 because it's a buzzword in Japan. In this case I usually just call it manufacturing and have yet to receive a complaint.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:39 pm

Are they the lemmings? wrote:Some stipulate it as a proper noun. OK, then it's monozukuri. Others want it rendered into English, but with voice given to the nuance of creation and innovation. Still others use it as a synonym for manufacturing, but choose to use ものづくり instead of 製造 because it's a buzzword in Japan. In this case I usually just call it manufacturing and have yet to receive a complaint.
Agreed. I'm dealing with print material, so I have to consider space restrictions. I might not have the luxury to add a on monozukuri.

I should provided some text to work with. Here's the title of a section in a CSR report: ものづくりと通じた環境への取り組み

I'm tempted to leave monozukuri as is, since calling it manufacturing in this case sounds odd to my ears.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:05 pm

I can't say I've ever had to translate ものづくり so I've never really thought about it but I've always felt it was closer to crafting/craftmanship rather than manufacturing; that is the point of ものづくり in terms of manufacturing was that large companies like to use it to say they are "crafting" something in the tradition of handmade goods by craftsmen who are part artists rather than "manufacturing" in the industrial sense. Which I guess explains the buzzword aspect of the word.

As for transliteration, I got 124,000 googits when I chucked it into Google. I didn't go beyond the third page of hits but its clear all hits were in some way associated with Japan so I doubt there is much currency in the term in English. I generally hate to transliterate things (e.g., 酒: what's wrong with "rice wine"? Maybe one could make a very narrow, linguistic/technical argument against using "rice wine" and argue that "sake" is "correct" but I for communication it seems easier to understand) and generally I think transliteration in general is just lazy. Of course I don't control the English language (dammit! :wink: ) so there are cases in which a transliterated term is either the only term or more common than an existing term in English (sake seems to be as, if not more, widely used in English these days than rice wine).
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Are they the lemmings? » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:31 am

I think MacGyver's suggestion of "craftsmanship" ties in with the "creation/innovation" thing mentioned above. FWIW, I tend to prefer these kinds of terms because they give a bit of air to the nuances of monozukuri that "manufacturing" or the ultra-literal "making things" don't do justice to.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:01 am

[quote="MacGyver"]I can't say I've ever had to translate ものづくり so I've never really thought about it but I've always felt it was closer to crafting/craftmanship rather than manufacturing; that is the point of ものづくり in terms of manufacturing was that large companies like to use it to say they are "crafting" something in the tradition of handmade goods by craftsmen who are part artists rather than "manufacturing" in the industrial sense. Which I guess explains the buzzword aspect of the word. [quote]

Yeah, craftsmanship is a pretty good rendition and it certainly has a nicer nuance than "manufacturing." I just recently stumbled upon a friend of ものづくり called 感性産業. It gets transliterated since a literal translation like "sensitive industry" doesn't mean anything. I found out that kansei engineering, like monozukuri, is about making things that people inherently want, i.e. they have a great design and aesthetic. A good example would be Apple's iPhone or iPad. They look cool and have great functionality that makes most people want one.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:10 am

I'm more of an editor than translator now and I'm finding myself in unfamiliar waters when it comes to editing translations. Can someone offer some advice about this problem: The Japanese love to put key words and slogans in 「」 brackets, which inevitably get translated as quotation marks. The end result is a translation with an unusually high amount of things being quoted. It just looks awkward, but what is the rule (if there is one) on this?

For example, if the translation reads: Company X was founded on the principles of "AA," "BB," and "some spiffy slogan," I want to do away with the quotation marks. Should they stay or should they go? I want them to go. Advice?

//Time to dig out my old copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. grumble grumble...

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by MacGyver » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:42 pm

There could well be something in the Chicago Manual about it (can't be arsed looking, sorry) but I do agree that 「」 gets translated into quote marks far too often and I usually don't add quote marks. Just depends on context really. In the context you list I'd prolly capitalize the words, eg "We were established on the principles of Integrity, Honesty, and Fearlessness" If you think it looks better without the caps do that.

On another note, I hate BS corporate speak like that. I edit copy like that liberally....
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:57 pm

The caps are nice idea, Mac. :clap: Yeah, I edit a lot corporate happyspeak, but at least you can play fast and loose with it.

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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Are they the lemmings? » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:39 pm

If you're an editor, then edit, man! I say wield your scalpel. After all, if there are complaints from somewhere abroad about how the English is understandable but hard to read, you're the one who'll cop the blame.
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Re: A Thread for Translators

Unread post by Shawn » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:17 pm

Are they the lemmings? wrote:If you're an editor, then edit, man! I say wield your scalpel. After all, if there are complaints from somewhere abroad about how the English is understandable but hard to read, you're the one who'll cop the blame.
Good point. The quality of the translations I see is generally good, but not great, which makes me ask myself how deep should I cut? Time spent using the scalpel means I can't do other things. I'm now seeing things from the perspective of a translation buyer. Getting a great translation means I don't have to touch a thing about it. The writing is vigorous and idiomatic, and you wouldn't know it was a translation upon reading it.

Good translations are actually a bit of problem. Everything has been translated--all the i's have been dotted, the t's crossed--but the writing lacks vigor. It' has no oomph. It makes me wonder if the translator is simply covering all of his bases or isn't that talented of a writer. I want pithy documents, dammit! :D

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