wrong translations! changing names, facts...

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alisonp

Senior Member
English - UK
On the question of kilometre-mile conversions, I'm going to be severe with the "Anglo-Saxon" community (horrible term). I feel that, in translation to English, metric units, °C etc. should be maintained because they are international units and by now everybody ought to be familiar with them.
"Ought to", perhaps, but aren't (isn't?). It depends very much on the unit and the value being measured: in the UK, °C have been used on weather forecasts for years, and I think most of us are familiar with them (to the extent that when I recently heard a forecast in °F I was totally flummoxed), yet for body temperature? It's still pretty much °F - at least, I wouldn't have much idea of what counted as "dangerous" in °C - and I have difficulties in marrying up the two (okay, I know you can subtract 32, divide by 9 and multiply by 5 or whatever it is, but I don't do it on a regular basis). And then, of course, there are the Americans, who still seem to judge everything in °F, so again your target market is important. Oven temperatures are another thing: some recipes use °F, others °C, and it seems to me that most don't give both any more (I use gas, so don't pay too much attention). Mileage, again: I don't think many Brits have any great concept of distance/speed in kilometres, and I'm pretty sure that speedometer dials on UK cars still show miles as the main unit, and km in a secondary position.

On the other hand, in translating from English, miles and °F are not international units and will sooner or later disappear (in GB now all weights and measures are metric and °C have been used for decades), so they need to be translated.
Yes, that's true, although I suppose technically that's localisation as much as translation - and do you round up, down, or give an exact figure? Again, that's going to depend on the target and purpose of the text. But UK weights and measures are no longer solely metric: we only recently got some sort of dispensation, from the EU, I assume, to go on using the avoirdupois system. It's so much easier to ask for a quarter of something than two-hundred-and-fifty-whatever grams :)
 
  • Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    [...] yet for body temperature? It's still pretty much °F - at least, I wouldn't have much idea of what counted as "dangerous" in °C - and I have difficulties in marrying up the two [...]
    Around 37ºC is normal; 40ºC or higher are cause for alarm. Just in case it may come in handy... ;)
     

    aleCcowaN

    Senior Member
    Castellano - Argentina
    Around 37ºC is normal; 40ºC or higher are cause for alarm. Just in case it may come in handy... ;)
    This made me remember my childhood, when I was watching old TV series dubbed only God knows where, and there was a person taking a thermometer and saying in Spanish "You got 100 degrees. Stay in bed!". I wondered some time what kind of illness might make you boil.

    By the way I remember lot's of instances where the tradutori traditori made the calculations the other way round, and you had people fined for driving 23 km/hour in a 16 zone, and planes flying 350km/hour, just "below sound speed".

    In some Antiques Roadshow episodes you hear the valuer saying "in a public auction this could reach 18240 to 21888 dollars" (Gee! Valuer or fortuneteller? No, just 10 to 12 thousand sterling pounds converted with the exact exchange rate of the translation's day). Is this the kind of faithfulness, truthfulness and exactness what we want to promote?
     

    stella_maris_74

    Mod About Chocolate
    Italian - Italy
    A very VERY common mistranslation into Italian is the English "silicon" translated as "silicone", and the English "silicone" translated as "silicio". Go figure computers made with "silicone" microchips, and babes with luscious "silicon" boobs! :D

    Another terrible, terrible adaptation off the top of my head is the wonderful and poetic movie title "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" adapted into "Se mi lasci ti cancello" (If you leave me I will delete you). It makes me cringe every time.
    I once read it was made to attract the usual audience of Jim Carrey, but it just resulted in a lot of people, clueless about what the movie really was about, going to the cinema expecting something like a sequel of Ace Ventura or Dumb & Dumber.

    Ciao :)

    dani
     

    Prometo

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The dubbing with which I am familiar is terrible. But there is something worse in the movie/television translation world: in Poland, you can hear the original soundtrack, but just barely, as there is another simultaneous voice, in Polish, that "explains" what is being said. This male announcer "interprets" all voices, male and female. I hate to listen to simultaneous interpretation, one language blends into the other in my ears.

    As far as translating Spanish for Italian with Woody Allen, the fact is that Spain -- as contrasted to the USA -- has had very little immigration from Italy. The idea of Italians being stud "stallions" which "everybody knows" (at least on the light side) in the USA is quite foreign to Spanish culture. On the other hand, Spaniards at times boast, often in good humor, about their sexual prowess vis-à-vis other nationalities.

    Not to have rendered Spanish for Italian and consequently paella for pasta would have left the audience blank and done a disservice to the oeuvre of Woody Allen.

    ~

    In my translation work I insist on editorial freedom and "poetic license". My rival is what I call "Euro English", a sort of stubborn independent new tongue with its own syntax and grammar, and sometimes I find myself having to defend my own unique eclectic, quirky, catholic lexical and style choices against the autocracy of that language.

    The thought of TIME as a helpful resource in translation work is plumb right. It's almost a trade secret that the quality of a translator's labor is proportional to the time frame allowed for it.
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    It's so much easier to ask for a quarter of something than two-hundred-and-fifty-whatever grams :)
    You'll have to invent new words, perhaps a calque on the Swedish kvartskilo.

    But worse to me than any example given so far is the miles per gallon for motor vehicles. We use litres per 10 km. Not only two conversions (and which gallon?), but the inverse! Fortunately, it won't appear in my niche (chemical, medical). But if it had been frequently occurring for me, I suppose I would have made a Word macro, like the one I have for deg F to deg C.
     

    alisonp

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    A very VERY common mistranslation into Italian is the English "silicon" translated as "silicone", and the English "silicone" translated as "silicio". Go figure computers made with "silicone" microchips, and babes with luscious "silicon" boobs! :D
    I saw a reference in English only the other day to "silicon" breast implants, and thought they must have been quite painful! But I think this is quite often caused by ignorance that silicon doesn't equal silicone. It must be a translation problem in many languages, I should think.

    The dubbing with which I am familiar is terrible. But there is something worse in the movie/television translation world: in Poland, you can hear the original soundtrack, but just barely, as there is another simultaneous voice, in Polish, that "explains" what is being said. This male announcer "interprets" all voices, male and female. I hate to listen to simultaneous interpretation, one language blends into the other in my ears.
    We had that on several children's TV serials (probably all imported from the then-Eastern Bloc) on the BBC when I was a child. Certainly "The Singing Ringing Tree" (GDR) and "Three Gifts for Cinderella" (Czech?), I seem to remember. You'd have a narrator (in beautiful BBC English, back in those days, natch) reading things like "She asked him how she was supposed to pick up all those grains before midnight" over the top - I assume it was cheaper than either dubbing or subtitling.

    My rival is what I call "Euro English", a sort of stubborn independent new tongue with its own syntax and grammar,
    I suspect that's what's coming to be known as "International English" now - a sort of dumbed-down mid-Atlantic language that's expected to be easy for non-English-speaking natives to understand :(
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    We had that on several children's TV serials (probably all imported from the then-Eastern Bloc) on the BBC when I was a child. Certainly "The Singing Ringing Tree" (GDR) and "Three Gifts for Cinderella" (Czech?), I seem to remember.
    Yes, we had exactly the same thing in Portugal! I remember in particular a Polish children's show. I don't know the original name, but it was about a bear named Teddy; the title was translated as "Teddy the Bear". I didn't think it sounded so bad. It was interested trying to listed to the faint original soundtrack, and I liked the original theme song. :)
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    In a book recently I saw "fruit machine" (in a pub) translated into Italian as "distributrice di frutta". Can you imagine putting in a coin and getting out an orange or a banana? We used to call them "one-armed bandits" when they had a lever on the side. When this was replaced by a button we called them "fruit machines" because of the fruit symbols used. The term "slot machine" used in Italy actually means any machine into which you can insert a coin, e.g. for cigarettes.

    THe word "cop" for policeman was originally "copper" (at least in GB) while "cop" was the action (catch, arrest). The classic phrase for a thief caught red-handed (in books and comics) was "It's a fair cop!", meaning "I can't complain about this arrest". I saw it translated as (in Italian) "He's an honest policeman!"
     

    Joca

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    ...

    A few decades ago I read regularly Technical News Bulletins from UK. Expressions like "about one inch" were systematically translated "about 25,4 millimetres". I found it ridiculous.
    Hi Hakro

    Excuse me in advance my innocent question, but in this case, what would the best translation?

    JC
     

    Lingvisten

    Senior Member
    Denmark
    I think, that if you start introducing foreign cultural elements, instead of replacing them with local cultural equivalents, in a little while people will get accustomed to hearing those things and eventually get a better understanding of the foreign culture. Beside enhancing cultural understandment, this will also make future translations even easier. In Denmark (my home country) dubbing is only used for childrens cartoons. Through sitcoms, documentaries and movies, danes has gotten so accustomed to american culture, that most would understand the cultural references. Of course this is easy for me to say. I don't do subtitles, and with the time at hand for people making subtitles i can see, that there's little time to take the bigger picture into considerations
     

    L4ut4r0

    Senior Member
    Chile, castellano/español
    A few decades ago I read regularly Technical News Bulletins from UK. Expressions like "about one inch" were systematically translated "about 25,4 millimetres". I found it ridiculous.
    Excuse me in advance my innocent question, but in this case, what would the best translation?
    The rule when the original uses the word "about" is: use as many numbers different from 0 as the original source.

    "About 123,000 miles" translates to "about 198,000 km" (not "about 197,949 km"). "Approximately 123.01 miles" translates to "approximately 197.97 km".

    "About 1 inch" should --using this rule-- be translated as "about 3 cm". However "about 25 mm" is also correct. Since 25.4 is an exact number, "about exactly 25.4 mm" is contradictory.
     

    Piotr_WRF

    Senior Member
    Polish, German
    The dubbing with which I am familiar is terrible. But there is something worse in the movie/television translation world: in Poland, you can hear the original soundtrack, but just barely, as there is another simultaneous voice, in Polish, that "explains" what is being said. This male announcer "interprets" all voices, male and female. I hate to listen to simultaneous interpretation, one language blends into the other in my ears.
    Your comment may give the impression that the lector (the male voice) explains what is said in the movie using indirect speech. This is not true. It's in fact a simultaneous interpretation, done by a single male lector.

    This kind of localization is done for foreign language movies on TV and DVDs. In the latter case you also have the possibility to watch the movie in the original language, either with or without subtitles. In case of cinemas, only subtitles are used.
    It's a different situation when the movie is intended for children. Then it's always dubbed. "Shrek" is a good example of an excellent Polish dubbing.

    On a personal side note, I prefer subtitles over a lector though I must admit that sometimes I spend more time reading them than watching the actual action.
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Hi Hakro

    Excuse me in advance my innocent question, but in this case, what would the best translation?

    JC
    "About an inch" translates as "2-3 cm".
    "About a mile" could be "a kilometre and a half", or even "about a kilometre" if it doesn't change anything in principle.

    alisonp says: It's so much easier to ask for a quarter of something than two-hundred-and-fifty-whatever grams.
    A similar measure to a quarter of a pound is 100 grams. This is a hectogram, in Italian ettogrammo, which is shortened to etto, plural etti. No one has any difficulty with that! Something similar will be thought up in Britain, sooner or later.
     

    NotTheDoctor

    Senior Member
    Español - English - Français
    I think both dubbing and subtitling for the cinema have improved greatly since I was a child. At least as far as Spanish is concerned: now we have versions for Latin America, whereas before we had to listen to John Wayne (among others) speak with a Castillian accent :eek:.

    Television, however, is a different story. Here are three (bad) examples that I have not been able to forget:

    1.- from E! Latin America
    This was shortly after Barbra Streisand married James Brolin. She was preparing for a concert or shooting a new movie and the host of E! News said something like "she had to leave her new hubby behind" - Spanish subtitles read "she had to leave her new hobby behind".

    2.- CSI subtitled for Latin America by Sony Entartainment Television
    First season I think, Grissom and Catherine searching the vic's home come across a music box collection. Turns out her husband used to give her one every year for their anniversary. Grissom makes a comment and Catherine says something like "my ex used to give me a Teddy every year for our anniversary". Spanish subtitles: they translated Teddy as osito de peluche (Teddy bear).

    3.- Friends dubbed for French television
    The one where Chandler accidentally tells Rachel that Ross is in love with her. Ross has left for China and Rachel is opening her presents and she opens Ross's and yadda yadda yadda. Chandler says: "Remember back in college when he first fell in love with Carol?". French version says, instead of back in College, "quand nous étions au collège" - as far as I know, the "collège" is the first level of secondary education in France (maybe like junior high?), but I could be mistaken.

    For me, that kind of mistake is unforgivable. Nothing to do with deadlines, but rather with a very poor knowledge of the language and the culture.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I think both dubbing and subtitling for the cinema have improved greatly since I was a child. At least as far as Spanish is concerned: now we have versions for Latin America, whereas before we had to listen to John Wayne (among others) speak with a Castillian accent :eek:.

    Television, however, is a different story. Here are three (bad) examples that I have not been able to forget:

    1.- from E! Latin America
    This was shortly after Barbra Streisand married James Brolin. She was preparing for a concert or shooting a new movie and the host of E! News said something like "she had to leave her new hubby behind" - Spanish subtitles read "she had to leave her new hobby behind".

    2.- CSI subtitled for Latin America by Sony Entartainment Television
    First season I think, Grissom and Catherine searching the vic's home come across a music box collection. Turns out her husband used to give her one every year for their anniversary. Grissom makes a comment and Catherine says something like "my ex used to give me a Teddy every year for our anniversary". Spanish subtitles: they translated Teddy as osito de peluche (Teddy bear).

    3.- Friends dubbed for French television
    The one where Chandler accidentally tells Rachel that Ross is in love with her. Ross has left for China and Rachel is opening her presents and she opens Ross's and yadda yadda yadda. Chandler says: "Remember back in college when he first fell in love with Carol?". French version says, instead of back in College, "quand nous étions au collège" - as far as I know, the "collège" is the first level of secondary education in France (maybe like junior high?), but I could be mistaken.

    For me, that kind of mistake is unforgivable. Nothing to do with deadlines, but rather with a very poor knowledge of the language and the culture.
    I'm sorry, NotTheDoctor, but can you tell me what is wrong with #2, it sems perfectly good to me. Giving someone a Teddy bear (often shortened to Teddy in BE) is not that unusual.:)
     

    zebedee

    Senior Member
    Gt. Britain - English
    I'm sorry, NotTheDoctor, but can you tell me what is wrong with #2, it sems perfectly good to me. Giving someone a Teddy bear (often shortened to Teddy in BE) is not that unusual.:)
    I think we're faced with a BE/AE cultural difference here.

    Whereas British English says that a Teddy is a Teddy bear, in American English they tend to be more prosaic and call it a stuffed animal. AE says a Teddy as a piece of lingerie. See this list of lingerie terms with photos, it's in alphabetical order so scroll down until you get to the T for Teddy.

    Since CSI is an AE programme, I would assume Catherine would have said stuffed animal if she'd meant the toy and what she means is lingerie (although both items are good anniversary presents!)

    This cultural difference example ties in well with the thread topic showing how easy it is to make translation mistakes even for people with both linguistic and cultural interests and an in-depth knowledge of the target language.
     

    NotTheDoctor

    Senior Member
    Español - English - Français
    I'm sorry, NotTheDoctor, but can you tell me what is wrong with #2, it sems perfectly good to me. Giving someone a Teddy bear (often shortened to Teddy in BE) is not that unusual.:)
    Hello Porteño

    I was expecting this answer. In AE, a teddy (as defined by Merriam Webster) is a chemise (a woman's one-piece undergarment; a loose straight-hanging dress). Knowing the show, and knowing Catherine's background and the kind of guy her ex-husband was, you would find it very very strange that he would give her a Teddy bear for their anniversary, even if you didn't know this meaning of the word in AE.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    (...) 3.- Friends dubbed for French television
    The one where Chandler accidentally tells Rachel that Ross is in love with her. Ross has left for China and Rachel is opening her presents and she opens Ross's and yadda yadda yadda. Chandler says: "Remember back in college when he first fell in love with Carol?". French version says, instead of back in College, "quand nous étions au collège" - as far as I know, the "collège" is the first level of secondary education in France (maybe like junior high?), but I could be mistaken.

    For me, that kind of mistake is unforgivable. Nothing to do with deadlines, but rather with a very poor knowledge of the language and the culture.
    And 3 should have said "quand nous étions à la fac" ("collège" being the first 4 years of secondary as you said, NTD). Falling in love at 13 does not feel the same as falling in love at 20!
    However I would be more indulgent - that kind of mistake may happen when you don't pay attention and you don't have time for rereading or proofreading.
    But I concur with you: standards of quality expected for cinema and TV are not the same.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Hello Porteño

    I was expecting this answer. In AE, a teddy (as defined by Merriam Webster) is a chemise (a woman's one-piece undergarment; a loose straight-hanging dress). Knowing the show, and knowing Catherine's background and the kind of guy her ex-husband was, you would find it very very strange that he would give her a Teddy bear for their anniversary, even if you didn't know this meaning of the word in AE.
    Most interesting NotTheDoctor, I had no idea of the AE use of Teddy, other than with regard to Roosevelt, which of course would not have suited the context! I do follow the series but, like most TV programmes, I don't pay that much attention to minor details, so, if I had seen that particular one, I probably would not have noticed it, especially since inconsciously, the translation would have fitted perfectly.:)
     

    alisonp

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Knowing the show, and knowing Catherine's background and the kind of guy her ex-husband was, you would find it very very strange that he would give her a Teddy bear for their anniversary, even if you didn't know this meaning of the word in AE.
    That's probably just the problem: chances are that the subtitle translator may not watch the show, or at least not watch it with sufficient interest to pick up such fine details. That's why fan sites are such a great source of translation howlers: they are so keen on the show that things are obvious to them that aren't obvious to the man (translator?) in the street. (I have some wonderful Star Trek ones which pull to pieces the German translations, for example). This is where consistency in use of a translator can be of real benefit - they can develop a proper 'feel' for a show which will enhance their translation - but I wonder how many subtitling companies even make sure they use the same translator throughout a season?
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hi Hakro

    Excuse me in advance my innocent question, but in this case, what would the best translation?

    JC
    Oh, but that's a common problem.

    We in Russia use kilometres, not miles, for example. Some translators prefer to leave mile and explain in a footnote that a mile is about 1,8 kilometres. Some prefer to convert miles in kilometres. Interestingly, French lieues are always left "as is", with footnotes explaining how long exactly a lieue is.
     

    alisonp

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Ooh dear, "best" is tricky ... In this case we were originally talking about subtitles, so footnotes are out of the question. The question is really always what the reader needs to know. Do they need to have a rough measurement, an accurate measurement? Does the "foreignness" of mile need to be retained (e.g. because it's a historical text and kilometres would be an anachronism), or do you convert to km? Taking the example of a league, since you mention it, that's an archaic term, and I wouldn't update it because it wouldn't suit the register. Is the reader actually interested in what the distance is? If you had a character telling you how many miles it is to the moon, then yes, I'd convert to km. But if he's telling you that a car is currently x miles away and will be here in y minutes, then maybe I wouldn't bother because I might regard the exact distance as not being particularly important to the reader. Etc. etc.
     

    ByteofKnowledge

    New Member
    UK-en
    alisonp says: It's so much easier to ask for a quarter of something than two-hundred-and-fifty-whatever grams.
    A similar measure to a quarter of a pound is 100 grams. This is a hectogram, in Italian ettogrammo, which is shortened to etto, plural etti. No one has any difficulty with that! Something similar will be thought up in Britain, sooner or later.

    In Switzerland they use the term "Pfund" or "pound" for a half a kilo, or 500g. Whereas I know a pound as 454g. It would make sense for us to do what we did with the penny after monetary decimalisation. For a while, no more than a few years, we used the term "new penny" to describe the new unit of 1/100 rather than 1/240 of a pound. So for a few years, maybe a generation tops, we could call a half a kilo "a new pound". Then once everyone is used to it, we drop the "new" and call it a pound, and in historical terms we call the Imperial measure an "old pound". Although it would mean reducing the size of the drink, a "new pint" would be half a litre. And so on. Why the heck not. We keep our names, but we call them something different. Did people complain in the late 1960s that they'd be buying things for nought point two five of a pound? We still used the term "five bob" for that amount until the 1980s. If we can survive that we can survive complete metrication.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Do they need to have a rough measurement, an accurate measurement? Does the "foreignness" of mile need to be retained (e.g. because it's a historical text and kilometres would be an anachronism), or do you convert to km?
    I would prefer the translator to retain the original mile/league/lieue/etc., because in my opinion, it would be really strange if an 18th century French nobleman would talk about kilometres.
     

    Baunilha

    Senior Member
    Holland (Dutch)
    For those who are interested in translation and why sometimes differences in cultural references command to "betray" the original text, I strongly recommend Umberto Eco's
    "Dire quasi la stessa cosa", a pure delight.

    I agree. In French it's called: Dire presque la meme chose (acc. circ.)
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    To my great annoyance, all too often I come across totally wrong translations even in very popular film or series dialogues, for which one would expect the employment of professional translators with proven skills.
    I'm not talking about trivial mistakes that could also be due to haste or distraction (for example, the source language talks about miles, the translator uses kilometres out of habit, forgetting to make the conversion) but about gross errors in interpretation.
    Last night I was watching a very popular American series in which a character describes a person as "annoying" and the inept translator translated annoying as noioso (boring)..Not even the average middle school student would make such a mistake.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    To my great annoyance, all too often I come across totally wrong translations even in very popular film or series dialogues, for which one would expect the employment of professional translators with proven skills.
    I'm not talking about trivial mistakes that could also be due to haste or distraction (for example, the source language talks about miles, the translator uses kilometres out of habit, forgetting to make the conversion) but about gross errors in interpretation.
    Last night I was watching a very popular American series in which a character describes a person as "annoying" and the inept translator translated annoying as noioso (boring)..Not even the average middle school student would make such a mistake.
    Even in documentaries and news you see such stupidity: "He was shot cal. .38 revolver" and they make a 38 mm out of it. That's not a revolver any more. It is a cannon! Or they translate AE "county" to "Grafschaft" in German. Basically correct if you mean the actual juristiction of a count. But there aren't any counts or barons in the USA.

    Or: "He was driving around 90 miles per hour" and they make - approx. 144 km/h - out of it.

    What is really cool, though, are the German dubbings of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. They didn't just translate. They rewrote them. They added a lot of jokes that were neither in the English nor in the Italian versions. And also The Persuaders. If you understand German, watch both versions.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Even in documentaries and news you see such stupidity: "He was shot cal. .38 revolver" and they make a 38 mm out of it. That's not a revolver any more. It is a cannon!
    True, I've noticed that too, however there's a different degree of ineptness here:
    - If I'm lazy (can't be bothered to look up information), in a hurry (very close deadline) and I don't know anything about firearms I might just translate it in a way that it looks kind of reasonable to me linguistically, although it's in fact totally wrong.
    - If I translate annoying as annoiato I make an inexcusable mistake linguistically, that is, in my field of expertise!

    In other words, I don't expect even professional translators to know every single detail, especially when the text is very technical (although nowadays every single piece of info is at hand if you are willing to spend some time searching for it) but they must know all the most important false friends!
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    True, I've noticed that too, however there's a different degree of ineptness here:
    - If I'm lazy (can't be bothered to look up information), in a hurry (very close deadline) and I don't know anything about firearms I might just translate it in a way that it looks kind of reasonable to me linguistically, although it's in fact totally wrong.
    - If I translate annoying as annoiato I make an inexcusable mistake linguistically, that is, in my field of expertise!

    In other words, I don't expect even professional translators to know every single detail, especially when the text is very technical (although nowadays every single piece of info is at hand if you are willing to spend some time searching for it) but they must know all the most important false friends!

    That is in fact a bit lazy, because if you have it as a transcript you don't even have to know anything about guns. You just have to read correctly. The point in .38 already indicates that it is a measurement in decimals of an inch. In the pre-Internet era, when in doubt how to express it correctly, I would simply have picked up the phone and called a randomly chosen armoury and asked. And then I would have it ready the next time I translate something about crime.
    With good dictionaries and the Internet I would probably not have had to make the phone call.
     
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