Have you ever given up while trying to translate something?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by srsh, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. srsh Senior Member

    Monterrey, México
    Mexico, Español
    Have you ever given up while trying to translate something?

    It happened to me when they asked me to translate a song of a mexican group named Cafe Tacuba (which, by the way, i strongly recommend), the song is "Chilanga Banda", even its in spanish (my native languaje), its just so full of slangs that I just gave up...


    ¿Alguna vez se han dado por vencidos intentando traducir algo?

    Me sucedió cuando me pidieron traducir una canción de un grupo mexicano llamado cafe tacuba (grupo que por cierto recomiendo ampliamente), la canción es "Chilanga Banda", aun y que está en español (mi lengua materna), tiene tantos modismos que llegó un momento que simplemente me di por vencido...
  2. *Cowgirl*

    *Cowgirl* Senior Member

    USA English
    Many many times.:(
  3. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English

    Why don't you please tell us more about your experience with this so we can all benefit from what you have learned?

  4. BasedowLives

    BasedowLives Senior Member

    Not really with translating, but just understanding.....I've come VERY close to just giving up in a few assignments in my Spanish Literature class. We had a bunch of excerpts and short stories from various works from the "Siglo de Oro" y "el barroco". There were so many words that I had to look up sometimes (that have never came up in conversation), i just got frustrated.

    I found, when i spend too much time looking up definitions of individual words i tend to end up "transliterating" instead of just trying to understand it and i get caught up in a circle of confusion.
  5. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    My experience is that as a student, I generally have bigger fish to fry than any single word. So I'll give it a try, and if it just wont work itself out, I jot down my notes in the margin and move on.

    sometimes, context makes it clear later... sometimes not. Either way, the really tough ones can wait until I'm better bale to handle them.
  6. ILT

    ILT Senior Member

    México - Español/Castellano
    Well, since I get paid to translate I cannot give up on a document, but I also follow nycphotography's approach: if I come to a very difficult paragraph, I'll jot down some notes and then, as I approach the end of the document, the translation will just flow by itself. I think that what happens is that by then I have a better grasp of the matter at hand, and I understand better what is being said, so it is easier for me to translate it.

    But yes, Chilanga Banda is really tough, I haven't tried it, but maybe some day I will feel like giving it a try. The process to follow with it would the following:

    - translation from slang spoken in México City to "normal" Spanish
    - translation from Spanish to English
    - translation from English to slang English

    But even this last step has its own difficulty: as the song uses many words used in México City and nowhere else in the country, we should choose a similar slang in English, but how to choose the city? New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, ... ? I mean, the options are endless, and since I don't know if any of them have a specific slang as the one used in the song, I wouldn't know what kind of slang I was looking for in English. That would have to be done by a native I guess.
  7. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish

    Si. Muchas veces cuando escucho música e intento entender lo que me dicen. A veces pongo la canción una y otra vez y no hay manera. Lo curioso es que, a veces la oigo otro día y sin hacerle mucho caso a la canción la entiendo y entonces me alucino!!! :D

    También me pasa con textos, es decir tengo una frase me la voy leyendo, e intentando saber qué me están diciendo y otro día sólo mirando de refilón ya sé lo que significa.

    No siempre me pasa esto, a veces entiendo lo que leo o escucho en el mismo momento, jajajaja


  8. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    Yes, I always had a difficulty in translating poetry. Sometimes, the words used in a poem written in English for example do not have corresponding words in arabic which convey with the same dimensions of meaning.

    In the translation course, I was once asked to produce a translation that is rhymed in order to convey the poetic sense of the original. It was really difficult for me.
  9. astronauta Senior Member

    Spain. Spanish (ES, MX) English (UK, CA, US)
    Yes! it usually happens when I have already put my 8hrs in a lenghty :eek:legal:eek: translation but it normally goes away with a drink (or three), 8hrs of sleep or a really good meal. Next day I'm like new.

    ILT's method has saved my life many times....:thumbsup:
  10. *Cowgirl*

    *Cowgirl* Senior Member

    USA English
    All right, once I was trying to translate from Spanish. The speaker wasn't native, she used words that, well, they weren't words. I gave up several times while working on that project. :(
    (It was a recorded voice)
  11. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
    I have never NOT finished a translation, although my goal in completing a translation has changed mid-project.

    For example, when translating Chilanga Banda for my students many years ago, I discovered that it was impossible to find one-word translations for every palabra defectuosa in that blasted song...:D so I changed my goal from wanting to translate it poetically, completely and everything to something very different (which was basically to recreate the style of the song in American slang, without directly translating the words).
  12. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    En mi país, trabajaba traduciendo películas y series de inglés y español. Normalmente teníamos la lista de diálogos, o sea, lo que decía la gente en la peli, pero escrito, lo que te ayudaba en entender si uno de los personajes hablaba de una forma inteligible. Una vez, me entregaron una peli (ya no me acuerdo como se llamaba), pero sin la lista de diálogos. Lo acepté, ya que no siempre nos daban las listas, y nunca he tenido problemas en traducir. Pero resulta que esa vez si que los tenía, y tenía un problemón! La pelicula estaba situada en el Wild West americano del siglo 19, con un cowboy que merodeaba por el desierto hablando con su caballo... Con un acento texano tan fuerte, que por lo mucho que me esforzaba, no entendía ni una palabra! Me quedaban dos opciones: inventar la traducción, o devolver. Opté por devolver, pque para mi es mejor admitir no poder hacer algo que hacerlo mal. Luego el otro traductor que lo cogió de mi, después de mucho tiempo me confesó que había inventado casi entera la peli...
  13. mattt777 New Member

    U.S. English
    Ay Dios Mio!

    Yes I have given up a few times translating, for example:
    when I am trying to translate someone speaking about a subject I dont really know all the vocabulary in.
    To be able to effectivly translate I have learned that you really need to know a good portion if not all of the vocabulary in that particular subject.

    I work with Mexican people that are not really educated, I mean I really love and respect them but even I know that they aren t speaking correctly. And when I have to translate for them it is hard sometimes but it is good to have to adjust, great practice.
  14. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    Translating English poetry or lyrics into another language, especially if I'm conveying the rhyme and rhythm, gives me the most problems - it's easier if I'm doing it the other way around. I'm never sure whether I've missed a more illustrative word or phrase.

    (For my money, the best translation I've ever seen of poetry is Seamus Heaney's "Beowulf" - he managed to bring every element across the language bridge, and his translation rolls off your tongue just like the original Anglo Saxon.)
  15. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    My apologies - I hadn't quite gotten into my first cup of coffee during that first post, and so forgot to say that yes, at times I have given up in a sense.

    I've sometimes used expressions or words that didn't have the nuance I wanted, but I couldn't find anything better and gave up and plugged them in anyway. They conveyed the overall sense, but not the precise sense or feeling that I wanted.
  16. gisele73

    gisele73 Senior Member

    Spanish - Peru
    Sometimes I've given up when trying to translate jokes, because in many cases either it doesn't make sense at all or loses its real meaning, it loses its charm, so to speak.
  17. Papalote Senior Member

    Quebec, Canada
    Spanish, English, French
    Hola, todos

    I must say that I have never given up translating a difficult text but I I have grown much older and balder finishing it :D ! I usually have an excellent working relationship with my clients, so I have no difficulty admitting to them that some sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs, are less than clear and could they please rewrite, or verbally explain in other terms, what the original text means. A few times, I have suggested my own version of what their text should say. They all seem to appreciate that I have their best interest at heart (and that I can also write properly ;) ).

    The only time I returned an unfinished job was for a transcription from a dictaphone. The recording had taken place in a restaurant, and dealt with an interview with 5 doctors regarding a new pill on the market. The participants hailed from 5 different French-speaking areas, the machine recorded very clearly the tinkling of wine glasses and the silvery sound of cuttlery on plates, but it was very hard to understand human sounds as the interviewer had the knack of asking a question before her interviewee had finished chewing. the surrounding noise included laughter, sneezing, coughing, someone dropping a tray, cellphones ringing, etc. Two days after I returned the tape, dictaphone and all paraphernalia loaned me by the client, I received a call from the Marketing VP asking why I and 3 other transcribers had failed to complete the job! :eek:

    Who said translators did not live on the edge? (or was it on edge :D ?

    Take care,

  18. Gremli Skremli Member

    Norwegian, Norway
    Ha ha.. who wouldn't give up translating Chilanga Banda? I think it's impossible to understand for non-Mexicans... Great song, by the way! :)
  19. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Interesting thread...to be continued?
  20. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    No, I have never given up any translation of a text I decided to translate. I rejected many. Many texts are so badly written that there is no use in translating them. It is true, however, that certain things are non-translatable, or almost non-translatable: some types of poetry, some jokes, and certain other things I cannot think about right now, so it might be better just to leave them the way they were created -- in the original.
  21. Pretty_Gaella

    Pretty_Gaella Member

    Naga City, Bicol, Philippines
    Filipino, English & Spanish
    Im barely new with the Spanish language. So far, I've never given up and I will never will. I'm doing the best that I can to translate whatever it is. The threads here in WF helps me alot:thumbsup:
    But the most challenging part is when I need to reveal the context before translating it.

    But still I won't give up:)
  22. Judica Senior Member

    East Coast, US
    AE (US), Spanish (LatAm)
    Once, while mediating two guys arguing in a Caribbean club (disco). One guy was from Jamaica, the other from Trinidad. I simply gave up. As colorful and interesting as it was to listen to, it was like trying to decipher 15th century old English vs. 16th century Pirate. (Oddly, both reminded me of "Spanglish".)
  23. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    No never. I have had phrases or single words I had to put on hold for a long time. But I never gave up.
  24. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    A police officer one told me to speak English just because I was speaking with a Jamaican accent (without all of the grammatical changes).

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