The last set of presentations at the recent ProZ Regionalkonferenz in Vienna was related to language and translation itself:
- "Übersetzen für die Wiener Börse" by Edith Vanghelof
- "Übersetzen aus dem Deutschen -- Wortstellungsprobleme" by David Wright
- "Deutsche Rechtschreibung" by Dagmar Jenner
Edith Vanghelof spoke mostly about different types of markets and the terminology related to them, as well as to other financial instruments. Translating for the Vienna stock exchange (Wiener Börse) involves mostly rendering legal texts into non-country-specific English. It is not clear to me, however, how such English is arrived at, since financial products, as well as the specifics of a given economic system, differ among countries. Since stock exchanges are highly regulated environments, I'd imagine that the different legal systems producing such regulations would also play a role in how a particular term is rendered into English. Thus, it seems to me that translating such texts without reference to any one country would, at best, be difficult and frequently impossible.
David Wright showed examples of how text is easier to understand if the sentence starts with information already known to the reader. He said that German was more flexible with regard to word order than English, but that in German a particular word order also carried a certain connotation. While Mr. Wright is certainly right that some German word orders are simply ungrammatical in English, keeping the original word order does make text comparison easier. That seems particularly important with legal texts, where some clients may lay the two versions of the text side by side to ensure nothing was skipped or added during translation. With marketing texts, on the other hand, both word order and the actual words (or even phrases) may need to be changed to convey the same mood in another culture. To change word order, or not to change it: it all depends.
Dagmar Jenner had participants complete a short exercise filling in blanks on a business letter with the correct post-reform spelling. [The German-speaking countries changed how things are spelled a couple of times during the last decade or so.] Having left Austria before these spelling reforms, I find that much modern German text looks "misspelled" to me. That's one of the reasons why I prefer to translate into English, rather than into German. After this workshop (and while still in Austria), I did go out and buy the latest standard German spelling dictionary -- the brand-new version of the Duden's "Die neue deutsche Rechtschreibung". Now let's just hope the powers that be won't change things on me again ...
That concludes my notes on this conference.
Until next time,