Any language interpretors here?
Are there any language interpretors in this forum? Anyone has a job as a translator or interpretor?
Moderator487 343Another talented guy is @alsuvi. He works as a translator, not sure whether he also trained as an interpreter.
(Aside @MediumCORE: do stop confusing me with your names, please..)March 2014
Moderator487 343I nearly forgot @MikeBond, he is an Italian translator (and perhaps interpreter, too?)March 2014
14 80 689@SanneT
I though he was only a tutor. Well.... I guess he might do some translating and interpreting too, for some extra cash. I would work as an interpreter for some extra money, if I had the chance.March 2014
627 17123 111I am a professional translator. I took a few "liaison interpretation" exams at university with contrasting results: good marks in French-Italian-French, not so good ones in German-Italian-German exams. My German interpretation teachers dissuaded me from pursuing a career as an interpreter. It was neither what I wanted to do nor what I could do best, but a posteriori I admit it may have brought me more job opportunities.
Anyway, I would be able to perform as an interpreter in rather simple contexts.March 2014
0@mikebond, thanks for your notice. It's great to meet a professional translator. I have a passion for becoming one as well. Could you recommend me some books you feel can shine and make more realistic on the idea of becoming a professional translator or interpretor?
@OzzyHellBack, @SanneT, @MediumCORE , thank you for your reply.March 2014
37805 23820 13845@Eric
"Robert Bigler talks about his experience, working as an interpreter and translator at the Polyglot Conference in Budapest. This videos gives a good insight into the work and life of someone working in this field."
Moderator51559 7603 179I think Robert is a bit of a language compiler as well as a language interpreter!March 2014
37805 23820 13845mmmm ;-)
I would say: he has the right nick name: lovelanguages or sprachbegeistert.
40 2 137ad Colin and Jolanda: Looking forward to our next "language compiling session" so we can express our love for languages ;-)March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179By the way, my previous post was a joke, just in case you missed it (which I'm sure you did). Spatterson would get it.March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...) ...By the way, my previous post was a joke, just in case you missed it (which I'm sure you did). (...)
Ah, bad, bad, little Colin always making terrible assumptions ;-)
P.S. I know that "to compile" means "to gather, to collect" and I'm aware of compilers as software programs. But, of course, it is possible that you meant something else ;-)March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robb
You are on the right track withthe software program thing. Anyway, I spent most of the day today teaching your little brothers and sisters how to do scientific 'visualisation' with IDL. I didn't teach them about Python because I know jack about it, but i told them to check it out if they want a free alternative to IDL.
By the way, I wrote a long Robert style post on this thread
One thing that I was wondering about when I wrote it was whether or not it is possible to simultaneously interpret a technical scientfic talk. Given that most of these talks are understood usually by a small fraction of the audience, do you think it would be possible for a professional to interpret them? My guess is no.March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...)
By the way, I wrote a long Robert style post on this thread
I read it. You learn quickly (I'm referring to the length of your article not to its content).
There are some things where I agree with you and others where I don't. No big surprise, here, I guesss.
I don't think it is a "good thing" as you put it that English is used for most scientific publications. And, as a matter of fact, it is not, at least not in the way you suggested.
I also believe that a lot of content and information gets lost due to poorly written documents. They are poorly written because a scientist might be an expert in his field but this does not automatically make him an expert in the English language. Porsche is one of the big companies where people have understood that forcing English as a "lingua franca" upon its non-English speaking employees is extremely counterproductive.
I have had the same experience at many conferences. People who would have loved to participate in discussions remained silent because they felt uncomfortable speaking in English. Many misunderstandings result from the use of poor English, both written and spoken English.
Much of my work with legal translations results from the fact that people fight over contracts which were originally written in "English" (with both of the parties of the agreement speaking another language as their native tongue) and obviously contain numerous linguistic mistakes which give rise to a lot of misinterpretations. Of course, this can also happen if you sign a contract with someone who drafted the document in your mother tongue. I'm not talking about legal tricks here, however, but about true misunderstandings and believe me, there are many of them.
As for articles published in English by non-native speakers, the vast majority of them are proof-read by native speaking experts or an expert in the field and a linguistic expert toghether. People don't save as much money as you think. My friend works at an EBM (Evidenced Based Medicine) centre where he has to deal with many studies written in poor English. A large number of them are often simply discarded because they are so imprecise linguistically speaking that they don't meet the required scientific standards.
(...) One thing that I was wondering about when I wrote it was whether or not it is possible to simultaneously interpret a technical scientfic talk. (...)
Of course, it is possible. It happens all the time. As long as you provide the interpreter with material he can use to prepare himself beforehand, things should be fine.
I am not a technician myself but I have translated thousands of technical patents covering many different fields. I have been working at conferences where they talked about highly specific surgery, nano technology and I'm sure many of my colleagues would be able to properly interpret any presentation you or any other expert in your field give, as long as you provide them with material to prepare beforehand.
I have done similar work too. There are areas where I feel that it is better somebody else does the job. But there are interpreters out there who have studied law, physics, chemistry etc. or who have had many years of experiences working for experts in these fields.
The problem with interpreting is not so much any potential lack of knowledge of the matter at hand on the part of the interpreter, but the poor presentations. I have been at many conferences where even renowned experts failed to follow the entire presentation because of the terrible English it was presented in.
If I have time enough to prepare for a specific topic I am confident I can interpret a technical presentation. It is not necessary for me to be able to give the same speech as you. Besides, you can always give a presentation in a way which won't be understood by anybody but yourself ;-)March 2014
6511 13 0A convincing rebuttal of Colin's English-only plea.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
I will take your word for it that technical scientific talks can be interpreted. I have never seen it tried. Such talks usually have lots of very speciallised vocabulary that means nothing outside of a small circle of experts and often can't be found explained in any dictionary or website. It took me years to learn most of the technical vocabulary of my own field and I still come across in any talk that is slightly outside of my own focus within this field, I can't understand a huge amount of their vocabulary. The only way I would be able to learn the vocabulary would be to spend months or years reading their publications and talking about these subjects with them.
"You learn quickly (I'm referring to the length of your article not to its content)."
Ouch! You may not be improving your English by posting in this forum much, but you are certainly learning some good trash talking skills.
"that English is used for most scientific publications. And, as a matter of fact, it is not, at least not in the way you suggested."
In which science are most of the publications not written in English? I should be more clear that I am only really talking here about the natural sciences within academia. I should have been more clear about this.
I am interested in what kind of scientific conferences you go to. None of the conferences I have been to would ever have had the resources to hire a team of expert interpreters.
"As for articles published in English by non-native speakers, the vast majority of them are proof-read by native speaking experts or an expert in the field and a linguistic expert toghether."
Well you would have to ask the scientific journals what they do during the editing process, but I don't think most scientists who publish in journals like Annalan der Physik pay for their work to be proof read before submitting. I have never heard og anybody doing this. I proof read a lot of stuff because I am one of two native speakers working in my intitute, but I have never been paid. It doesn't take so much time to proof read something and correct the English, even when the English is pretty bad. The journals themselves proof read all articles and make quite a few changes to fix the language in them.
"People don't save as much money as you think. My friend works at an EBM (Evidenced Based Medicine) centre where he has to deal with many studies written in poor English. A large number of them are often simply discarded because they are so imprecise linguistically speaking that they don't meet the required scientific standards."
I have never seen such a paper in astronomy, but I don't read medical papers so I don't know.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
You have discussed inaccuracies in the literature caused by the person writing not having a high level of English, but what about inaccuracies caused by the translator not understanding the thing they are translating, which if they were translating physics papers would be about 99.9% of the time?
I have no experience translating, but I do have a lot of experience correcting English for technical writing. It doesn't usually take much time and isn't usually so difficult, but I do usually need to consult the author of the work several times about what they mean in certain sentences that I can't correct because I don't understand them. I recently corrected large parts of an Italian guy's PhD thesis in Vienna. The thesis was about numerical simulations of how meteors and comets fly about the solar system. This is outside of my own expertise and in the end, the only way I could correct it was by actually sitting with the guy and discussing with him what he meant in the bits I didn't understand. If it is this hard going from from English to English, I wonder how hard it is going between languages.
Another good example is a paper I recently published in the British astronomy journal MNRAS. These papers are all proof read and edited after being accepted and before being published by the journal. After the proof reading, they send back the edited version for the authors to check. In my paper, despite being written by a native speaker (me) and proof read by many times by three other native speakers (and a French guy), there were still typos to be fixed that they found. However, they also added mistakes to two sentences that they clearly didn't understand properly, usually in the form of changing the verb from the thrid-peson singular to the third-person plural or the other way round.March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...) I will take your word for it that technical scientific talks can be interpreted. I have never seen it tried. ......I am interested in what kind of scientific conferences you go to. (...)
How do you think such talks are handled by the UN? ;-)
I have worked for the UNIDO quite a few times and believe me, they have some pretty technical talks there too.
Conferences of the "European Association of Nuclear Medicine" also get quite scientific, so do meetings organised by Greenpeace since they too invite scientists to give speeches (including natural scientists).
In my previous post I also mentioned a conference about nano technology where I interpreted.
The European Biomass Conference I worked at a few weeks ago also was fairly technical, with quite a few experts from the field of natural sciences.
(...) ...The only way I would be able to learn the vocabulary would be to spend months or years reading their publications and talking about these subjects with them. (...)
You are confusing things here. First of all, I don't think it will take you months or years to learn specific words. It may take you that much time to understand the underlying scientific concepts in detail, but this is a completely different matter.
While an interpreter needs to have some knowledge of the field he interprets in, it is YOU who gives the speech. I don't need to actually comprehend the scientific concept of what you are saying. My job is to make sure that my interpretation renders exactly what you say and I can say things without being able to understand the scientific logic behind it. This does indeed require a good grasp of the language and some basic understanding of the matter at hand, but I need not be an expert.
As I said, preparation is the key. If I know the word for a specific scientific process I need not understand how that process works. Again, I'm not the one giving the speech, the content is your job. I also doubt that there are many words you won't be able to find on the Internet.
Dictionaries are one, but definitely not the only source of information. Parallel texts are often a much better source and you'll find plenty of them on practically any subject. I don't think astronomy is that much of an exception here.
I would certainly not be able to interpret a speech given by you ad hoc but with proper preparation I see no reason why I or any other trained interpreter should not be able to do so.
(...) I have never heard og anybody doing this. (...)
These might the people who end up publishing incomprehensible articles ;-)
(...) ...I proof read a lot of stuff because I am one of two native speakers working in my intitute, but I have never been paid. (...)
That's what I meant. Articles need to be proof-read, you say so yourself (...I proof-read a lot of stuff...).
It doesn't matter whether you get paid or not and as a matter of fact you are getting paid, if you do the proof-reading during your working hours (even if you are not paid a specific fee for the actual proof-reading job your employer pays for the time you spend at your place of work).
(....) ...It doesn't take so much time to proof read something and correct the English, even when the English is pretty bad. The journals themselves proof read all articles and make quite a few changes to fix the language in them. (...)
Exactly, now you even have two steps of proof-reading. This very much confirms what I said in my post. Editors would certainly also correct certain formulations if the text had been written by a native speaker but there is much more work involved if the writer is not a native speaker (unless he has reached a high level of proficiency in English and this is not as common as you seem to suggest).
(...) ...I have never seen such a paper in astronomy, but I don't read medical papers so I don't know. (...)
Well, then your field of expertise seems to be an exception. Scientific papers written in poor English abound in many fields (unless they have been proof-read by native speakers and that is exactly what I said in my post).March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...) ...but what about inaccuracies caused by the translator not understanding the thing they are translating, which if they were translating physics papers would be about 99.9% of the time? (...)
Of course, this is a potential source of mistakes. However, I think you extremely overestimate the "uniqueness" of your field of expertise and grossly underestimate the qualifications of trained translators. As I told you before, there are translators who have studied physics, medicine, law etc. and even if they haven't, many of them have worked many years, sometimes decades, in their fields.
If what you said were true, there should not be a single professional paper on physics out there which was not originally written in English and I'm sure you know that this is not the case. There are good translations of highly scientific papers and books available and I don't think that the people translating these works failed to understand 99.9 % of the content as you suggested.
(...) If it is this hard going from from English to English, I wonder how hard it is going between languages. (...)
Being a native speaker is not a qualification per se. I'm translating a German text right now which was written by a German attorney-at-law and, believe me, there is nothing "unique" or "excellent" about his command of the German language ;-)
As a matter of fact, it often is the lack of linguistic skills of an author that requires the interpreter/translator to make an even greater effort to ensure the accuracy of his translation/interpretation. And this applies mostly to cases where people have to give a presentation in English or write a text in English without possessing the necessary linguistic skills to do so.
When I work with a client, I always do so in close cooperation with him. Whenever I am in doubt, I will talk to him and ask him to explain things to me. Again, I need not be able to understand how X-rays work to be able to translate a text about them. After all, I'm not writing the text myself, I am translating and while this requires high linguistic skills and a basic understanding of the subject at hand, I don't have to be an expert in the field.
One thing is true, however: The less accurate your presentations are, the bigger the challenge for the translator/interpreter.
I have worked for the European Patent Office for 12 years and many of the inventions patented naturally involved novelties people sometimes even had to find new words for. I still managed to translate these texts because I worked in close cooperation with the author.
Translating and interpreting are jobs for professionals but you need not be a rocket scientist to do a good job ;-)March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
Du hast ein großes Schnitzel gekocht und ich brauche viele Zeit, um es zu essen. I will just discuss the posibility of translating and interpreting technical science stuff in this post and will get onto the actual feasability of it on the other thread when I get some time.
"How do you think such talks are handled by the UN? ;-)
I have worked for the UNIDO quite a few times and believe me, they have some pretty technical talks there too."
I doubt genuinely technical talks in the way I mean it are given at the UN. It may be technical for the audience who does not have the expertise of the scientist who is speaking, but for the scientist it is probably babytalk. The language they use in presentations to non-specialists is always going to be simplified, even in applications for things like funding and I suspect also patents.
Are you sure you are able to tell the difference between a simplified review talk given by a scientist for the sake of non-specialists and a technical talk given by a scientist about his or her latest results to a group of specialists? People outside of the sciences generally have very little idea of what read science looks like. For example, my mum was shocked when I gave her a copy of my phd thesis and she found equations in it!
"You are confusing things here. First of all, I don't think it will take you months or years to learn specific words."
It will when the only way you can learn those words is by reading, and understanding, huge amounts of technical literature and by having endless numbers of conversations with experts in the field. The really technical vocabulary that gets used by experts in their field cannot be found in dictionaries. There are dictionaries of physics terms, but these are very general. A lot of the time, a term that might have a specific meaning to the general scientific community has a very special meaning to a set of experts. A lot of the time, a term might have an obvious meaning that is in fact wrong. People will often be working within the subject for a long time before they realise that the term has a funny meaning. How would an interpreter preparing for a conference do it when they don't even know which terms have peculiar meanings in particular fields? Such terms will generally not be used by specialists when talking to non-specialists but they will be used heavily in any technical science talk.
"However, I think you extremely overestimate the "uniqueness" of your field of expertise and grossly underestimate the qualifications of trained translators."
I think you are extremely underestimating the uniqueness of fields of expertise.
I am not saying that real technical science talks cannot be interpreted reliably, I don't know. I am just saying I have never seen it done and am not convinced that it can be done reliably enough. When I say reliable enough, I mean more reliable than a non-native speaker who is not at a really high level of English saying it themselves. I'll take your word for it that simplified talks given to non-specialists can be interpreted.
It is clear that translating science, even the stuff of the most technical nature is possible. As I said on the other thread, there are some journals in physics that publish papers that are not in English and have them translated. This is especially so in Russia. I don't know how reliable the translations are since I don't think I have ever read one. I will ask a Russian I know about it when I see him.
Regarding the proof reading, I proof read a lot of stuff because I am here and am only one of two people who can. If I was not here, almost all of the stuff that I proof read would not be proof read. It is not a necessary step. I do it as a favour to people. It has nothing to do with my job. I am not being paid to do it. My proof reading other people's stuff is in no way an extra expence for the university. I am sure it is an expense for the journals, and maybe even a big one, but you can't compare the expense of proof reading a paper written in English to check the English with the expenses they would pay translating the article into 10 languages, but I will discuss this in another post.March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...) It may be technical for the audience who does not have the expertise of the scientist who is speaking, but for the scientist it is probably babytalk. .....Are you sure you are able to tell the difference between a simplified review talk given by a scientist for the sake of non-specialists and a technical talk given by a scientist about his or her latest results to a group of specialists? (...)
With all due respect, Colin, and you know I like you, this is about as arrogant as one can get. You need to get off your high "scientific" horse. So, in your mind there is the "scientists" on one hand and all those oh so ignorant laymen on the other hand who are so inferior to the "scientific species" you seem to belong to that we don't even realize how limited our understanding of the world is.
(...) I doubt genuinely technical talks in the way I mean it are given at the UN. (...)
Clearly you have never attended any of the meetings of scientific committees of the UN.
(...) ...People outside of the sciences generally have very little idea of what read science looks like. For example, my mum was shocked when I gave her a copy of my phd thesis and she found equations in it! (...)
First of all, as wonderful a person as your mother probably is (and I have no idea about her educational background), I very much doubt she qualifies as a benchmark for the rest of non-scientists in this world.
Secondly, you use the term "scientists" and "sciences" as if you were talking about a homogenous group of people or field. How do you define a scientist? Does a university degree make you a member of this supposedly elite group or is it the ridiculous point system that makes people climb up the ladder in your "world of sciences" based on the number of "scientific articles" they publish?
(...) ...This is especially so in Russia. I don't know how reliable the translations are since I don't think I have ever read one. I will ask a Russian I know about it when I see him. (...)
You seem to think very highly of "scientists" and yet you constantly question the quality of the work of other people who, like trained translators, can be experts in their fields as well. So, you think if you "ask a Russian you know" this is going to be enough to judge the work of a translator?
Well, I'll have a look at some of your work and ask a teacher I know to have a look at it so he can tell me how accurate your work is ;-)
(...) ...It is not a necessary step. I do it as a favour to people. (...)
If you think it is not a necessary step you have no idea of what real proof-reading is about. Anybody who is serious about what he does has his work proof-read by a colleague (even if he writes stuff in his own native tongue) before he publishes it. This should be a minimum standard even in the realm of astronomy.
That you do your proof-reading as a favour to others may actually be true.
(...) How would an interpreter preparing for a conference do it when they don't even know which terms have peculiar meanings in particular fields? Such terms will generally not be used by specialists when talking to non-specialists but they will be used heavily in any technical science talk. (...)
First of all you keep making assumptions and secondly there is one major flaw with your line of argumentation. You seem to be suggesting that only people of your "own kind" can understand what you say because of some peculiar meanings that you seem to attach to specific technical terms. I don't think that is the case and you are not the first scientist I have met in my life.
Science is first and foremost about knowledge and the value of knowledge lies in its capacity to be transferred. If you fail to do that properly, then shame on you, you ever so clever people.
What are you guys? An elite group of necromancers? Gee, I've heard of scientists living in an ivory tower but you seem to be out of this world.....
Ah, Colin, I'm glad I don't suffer from high blood pressure because if I did you would have made my pressure rise faster than a rocket gets off its base ;-)
(...) ....check the English with the expenses they would pay translating the article into 10 languages, (....)
That is true and about the only thing I agree with you in your post. Translations are indeed expensive, no doubt about that.
And, just for the record, I still think you are a very likeable person and quite a funny one on top of that. But you seem to base many of your views on an incredible amount of assumptions.
I'm sure you are doing a fine job in whatever your field of expertise is (people who know what you do would not have invited you to come to Vienna if that were not the case), but in my opinion you need to get a broader view of things. You are not a "chosen people" as much as some scientists might think they are and you are not "out of this world" either. Get your feet on the ground again, Mr. Science :-)
P.S. And, of course, there is a chance that I did not grasp the actual meaning of what you wrote because, while you undoubtedly "simplified" your post to make it intellectually accessible for such poor laymen like me, your explanations might still have been way above what is within my reach and if that should be the case, I admit I don't really mind :-)
Nichts für ungut, du bist ein lieber Kerl, aber manchmal glaub ich, mich tritt ein Pferd, wenn aus dir der "Wissenschaftler" spricht :-)March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179“With all due respect, Colin, and you know I like you, this is about as arrogant as one can get.”
I was wondering when I would first be called arrogant. It’s an accusation that’s so common it’s boring. When I wrote that a talk “may be technical for the audience who does not have the expertise of the scientist who is speaking, but for the scientist it is probably babytalk”, I was writing a very simple and well known fact. I know from my own experience that when I speak with somebody who does not share the same specialty as me that I must speak in a very simple way, explaining things I have known for years and find simple, and avoid basically all specialised words. When I speak to somebody who has no experience with physics, I have to basically throw out all of the vocabulary I have learned in the last ten years and assume nothing about what they know. The same would be true for a biologist who was speaking to me about their work. I sit through many technical talks by people who work in fields that are slightly different to my own and usually understand nothing they say. If I watch a talk about the physics of lasers, which I have had to do quite a few times, it is like it is in a different language.
I also was not distinguishing between scientists and non-scientists here. The “audience who does not have the expertise of the scientist who is speaking” could easily be, and usually is, an audience of other scientists. My concentration in all of these posts on the natural sciences is simply a result of this being what I know about.
When I asked you if you are sure you are able to tell the difference between a simplified review talk given by a scientist for the sake of non-specialists and a technical talk given by a scientist about his or her latest results to a group of specialists, I ask you this based on my own experience, not arrogance. Even when I started as a phd student, after doing my masters, basically all astrophysics I heard sounded the same. The simplified reviews where most of the technical discussion was left out sounded exactly the same to me as the highly technical discussions. This is probably still the case for me when it comes to other areas of physics and other sciences.
The irony is that I am continually told that I must be some sort of super genius or whatever by people I meet who then almost always go on to tell me that they could never understand any of what I do, to which I always reply that it’s complete nonsense and that one does not need to be a super genius to do astrophysics and they can understand what I do if they put in the time. Then when I write something as banal as what I wrote in the previous posts, I am called arrogant.
“You need to get off your high "scientific" horse.”
z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z (that’s the sound of me sleeping)
“So, in your mind there is the "scientists" on one hand and all those oh so ignorant laymen on the other hand who are so inferior to the "scientific species" you seem to belong to that we don't even realize how limited our understanding of the world is.”
My posts and your interpretation of them have long since parted company.
“First of all, as wonderful a person as your mother probably is (and I have no idea about her educational background), I very much doubt she qualifies as a benchmark for the rest of non-scientists in this world.”
That was just one example to illustrate my point, not to prove it. The general public’s understanding of what scientists do and how science works is terrible. Who is to blame for this is an interesting question.
“Secondly, you use the term "scientists" and "sciences" as if you were talking about a homogenous group of people or field.”
No I don't.
“How do you define a scientist? Does a university degree make you a member of this supposedly elite group or is it the ridiculous point system that makes people climb up the ladder in your "world of sciences" based on the number of "scientific articles" they publish?”
I never said it was an elite group. I am defining scientists here in the normal way, i.e. somebody who does research into one of the sciences. I have also explained several times that I am talking about the natural sciences.
“So, you think if you "ask a Russian you know" this is going to be enough to judge the work of a translator?”
Well, I will ask the Russian I know who has, for political purposes mainly, published some of his work in Russian journals. This person is at a level of English that is indistinguishable from a native speaker, putting aside his strong accent. I will ask him if he thinks the translations of the articles he published in Russian, if indeed they have been translated, are accurate (if he has bothered to read them). I think he will be able to determine quite well if they are accurate and does not have to know anything about translating.
“You seem to be suggesting that only people of your "own kind" can understand what you say because of some peculiar meanings that you seem to attach to specific technical terms.”
Exactly! Of course it is easy enough to explain to somebody the peculiar meaning a common technical term, or the normal meaning of an uncommon technical term. My argument is that it would be very hard for an interpreter to learn these peculiar meanings or uncommon technical terms. There are no dictionaries or lists or anything that describe them, and they can’t be picked up simply by looking over a few papers. Maybe it can be done, as I said in the last post, I don’t know.
“I've heard of scientists living in an ivory tower but you seem to be out of this world…..”
Back to sleep again. Z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
...aaaaand when I said the bit about the proof reading not being a necessary step, all I was saying is that in my instutute, it is not necessary for me to proof read somebody's paper before it is submitted to the journals. This is because the group of people who wrote the paper are usually perfectly able to write good English, and most of their mistakes will be caught by the journal anyway. I don't know what you thought I meant.March 2014
119 1930"When I wrote that a talk “may be technical for the audience who does not have the expertise of the scientist who is speaking, but for the scientist it is probably babytalk”, I was writing a very simple and well known fact."
I wholeheartedly disagree. Your experience is directly contrary to my own. I am glad that while I occasionally saw this attitude among scientists at UCSD, it definitely wasn't the norm. Perhaps UK physicists just aren't as well educated as their American counterparts, but the latter generally didn't hold to the idea that one couldn't understand research from some other specialty. It is quite necessary, in fact, for many: the latest work by plasma physicists might be relevant to someone working in particle physics or vice-versa. At research conferences or symposia, where the researchers were hardly "talking down," you could easily find someone listening to a presentation outside of his specialty and nonetheless demonstrating a very good understanding via his questions. I went to a research presentation on warped geometry work done by a string theorist (imagine that, a physicist presenting research in mathematics!) and saw condensed matter physicists and even chemists there.
Yes, virtually everyone specialized in something specific, but they also didn't delude themselves with the idea that specialization meant more than it did. If the research papers they published in physics journals weren't understandable by scientists outside their specialty, they wouldn't be much more than useless. Not to mention that much of the most interesting research going on crosses into multiple specialties... If one intends his research to be read only by a closed group, then he doesn't deserve to have grant money wasted on him...March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179I have never said that one scientist cannot understand the research of another specialty. Of course a chemist can learn about a difficult physics topic and gain a pretty good understanding of it. However, this takes a lot of study and cannot be done simply by listening to a few talks at a conference. If a chemist who has never studied string theory listened to a talk about string theory aimed at an audience of experts in string theory, this chemist will understand nothing of it.
"If the research papers they published in physics journals weren't understandable by scientists outside their specialty, they wouldn't be much more than useless. "
This is not true. Most research papers are only written for and only useful for the people working within one specialty.
"If one intends his research to be read only by a closed group, then he doesn't deserve to have grant money wasted on him..."
119 1930"This is not true. Most research papers are only written for and only useful for the people working within one specialty."
This will be news to most physicists I know. Also to my friends in engineering or applied research who turn those research papers into useful technology.
Why is it nonsense to suggest we don't waste money on research that isn't useful to anybody but the very researchers themselves?March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179You are certainly right when you say that "much of the most interesting research going on crosses into multiple specialties" and this is an important point. I think most scientists will agree that we concentrate way too much on our own specialties and do not do enough interdiciplinary work. However, we concentrate on our specialties for good reasons. Our specialties are all full of really difficult unsolved problems to be solved and often require really detailed and specific technical skills to be learned. These things can often only be done by working full time on one subject. I think a good mixture of people working very hard on one particular project or area and people who have multiple specialties or try to apply what they know to problems outside of their own specialty is very healthy. At the moment, we probably have too much of the former and too little of the latter.March 2014
119 1930"Our specialties are all full of really difficult unsolved problems to be solved and often require really detailed and specific technical skills to be learned. These things can often only be done by working full time on one subject."
I totally agree (in fact, I pretty much agree with that entire post). I think, however, that having detailed and specific technical skills is one thing, and being able to read and understand research is another. The latter doesn't necessarily require the former. I've really only worked in one specific area of research -- where I was a research assistant -- but I can understand (and needed to understand for that research) journal papers from a few other specialties. Put me in front of a particle accelerator and I won't know how to operate it, but I can read the paper someone else produced out of it...March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...)
Back to sleep again. Z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z z. (...)
I think you should have gotten more sleep before you wrote your earlier posts. Now on top of being arrogant you also act in a very childish way, oh, my, maybe it is just very "scientific" and you forgot to "dumb it down" for ordinary earthlings.
As for the rest of your post, well, you might actually just have found a cure for insomnia.March 2014
6511 13 0@Colin: "...I was wondering when I would first be called arrogant. It’s an accusation that’s so common it’s boring..."
Mmm....if that's something you get a lot from people...na ja...könnte es nicht sein, sie haben ein kleines Bisschen Recht?
(Remember: I'm speaking here as someone who is himself a cheerfully self-confessed "Arschloch"! :-D)March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179Arrogant? Probably.
Arschloch? Always.March 2014
1208 25761 1209And so painfully naive.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179That may be so, but I notice that most of the people on the other thread who have expressed opinions about how science should work and what scientists should do have no experience with any of the sciences and know nothing about them.March 2014
40 2 137(...) ...what scientists should do have no experience with any of the sciences and know nothing about them. (...)
And I know at least one person who seems to know next to nothing about translating and interpreting but holds very strong views on both of these professions too.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
Could you tell us which very strong views you think I hold?March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (...) Could you tell us which very strong views you think I hold? (...)
I trust people can read your posts themselves (which are full of assumptions along the lines of only "baby talk" being accessible to interpreters etc.) and I don't want to bore you again with my comments.March 2014
376 100585 144I agree with Colin that understanding scientific papers relating to a specific field of study is usually out of reach of people who have not spent a lot of time working in that field, or a closely related one, themselves.
I think that scientists need to be able to communicate about their research with people who work outside their field. This is quite different from publishing details of their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals, which exist to share research results with fellow scientists.March 2014
40 2 137ad Ginkgo58: (...) ...that understanding scientific papers relating to a specific field of study is usually out of reach of people who have not spent a lot of time working in that field, or a closely related one, themselves. (...)
I agree too but that was not really the issue here, I think. I tried to explain how you can still interpret something accurately and correctly while not being able to comprehend every single detail of the underlying scientific logic.
Interpreters will not always be able to verify if what a scientist whose presentation they interpret says is correct or not. There are many assignments I don't accept because I feel that under the circumstances given I cannot provide for a good translation/interpretation. Me not being able to do so, however, does not mean that it is not possible.
Colin mostly argued along the line that he practically excluded the possibility of having a scientific presentation translated/interpreted correctly unless the scientist "dumbed it down" to what he called baby talk.
And that is simply not true. My friend is a medical doctor and works at a research institute. I sometimes translate studies carried out by medical scientists. Some of these studies are published in magazines that are peer-reviewed scientific journals as well.
I can assure you, these people don't "dumb down" their articles. These texts are not published in the yellow press or your usual Sunday morning paper but in magazines intended for experts.
While I'm not a medical expert myself, I have many years of experience translating similar texts and, most importantly, I closely cooperate with my clients, i. e. medical experts who can provide me with the kind of support and information I need in case my dictionaries, my own experience and my research on the Internet turn out to be insufficient to provide for an accurate translation.
These articles are translated into German if the people who have published them in English need to apply for a grant in Austria. Our government will not accept papers that are written in English and I think this is a good thing. So, there is a basic need for translation here as well.
A trained and experienced translator (especially those who have also studied natural sciences in addition to their training as translators/interpreters) can certainly provide for a correct translation if he is supported by a network of other experts. This is how translating and interpreting at a high level works and I don't think Colin has been aware of this when he was making his comments.March 2014
6511 13 0@Robert
When it comes to legal and political stuff, do you use the "Dietl Lorenz Wörterbuch"?
(I have Band II of the DL on my bookshelves - even if I only ever used it once!)March 2014
40 2 137ad Jay: (...) When it comes to legal and political stuff, do you use the "Dietl Lorenz Wörterbuch"? (...)
Yes, that is one of the dictionaries I use. Today, I mostly work with parallel texts but also with databases provided by the EU/UN. Dietl Lorenz, however, is an excellent general dictionary for legal texts.
I also use monolingual legal dictionaries such as "Creifelds Rechtswörterbuch" published by C.H. Beck or "Black's Law Dictionary".
Besides, I studied law for a few semesters ;-)
For more scientific texts I use Kucera's Dictionaries of Exact Science and Technology, Wenske's dictionaries of chemistry etc. There are many good dictionaries out there and now that they are available on CDs or online they are updated even more regularly than before.
Besides, clients often provide you with their own terminologies.
Who recommended Dietl Lorenz to you? It is widely used at interpreting/translating departments.March 2014
376 100585 144@lovelanguageslll
Thank you so much for pointing out that I had not really read the previous posts carefully enough. I also think that you are right.
A good translator or interpreter should certainly be able to do his or her job well, if enough time is spent on understanding the language used in a particular field.
I actually have a relative living in Israel whose only job for quite a few years has been translating from or to Hebrew from a number of European languages, mostly to German. He has to spend a lot more time on preparing for his work, and on working through texts, than most people have any idea of. The pay is not very high these days for this work. He is frustrated by others coming in and undercutting his rates, and then often not working to the high standard that he works to. His frustration has reached the point where he wants to leave this work and work from the bottom up in the hotel industry.
I realise that I have strayed into a topic that is outside my area of expertise, apart from this small connection that I have with one member of this group. You all need to be treated with admiration and respect. You are not the guys that do those crazy translations of instructions for Chinese (and other) electronic devices!!
As far as scientific writing is concerned, I do know that it needs to be clear and concise, in whatever language it is written, and not overlaid by personal emotion. It should be perfectly possible to translate scientific texts into any language. Is there a problem sometimes of appropriate vocabulary not existing in the language into which you are translating?I am guessing that sometimes new words may have to be invented. Is it sometimes tricky when one translator invents particular words (from other words, of course) and another translator in that field invents different words?March 2014
6511 13 0@Robert: "...Who recommended Dietl Lorenz to you? It is widely used at interpreting/translating departments..."
It was some time ago, but if I remember correctly the guys at Grant&Cutler recommended it to me. G&C used to be a big specialist foreign language bookstore in London - I think they have gone bust now. (EDIT: in fact, I see they've merged with Foyle's.)
I needed it for some translating I was doing it for someone as (let's say) just a favour. I'm not a professional - but the person in question couldn't afford a specialist.
Yup, German lawyers - those guys fall far short of Goethe! :-DMarch 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
So I spent the day in Wiener Neustadt shooting Austrians. That was just a warm up to writing this post!
I asked you if you could tell us which very strong views you think I hold about translating and interpreting because I was pretty sure that what you think I have said will not correspond to what I have actually said. Given your more recent posts, this is clearly the case.
"I tried to explain how you can still interpret something accurately and correctly while not being able to comprehend every single detail of the underlying scientific logic."
What do you mean with 'tried'? You explained it early on and nobody has expressed any doubt about this fact. I wouldn't know myself, but I will take your word for it.
"Colin mostly argued along the line that he practically excluded the possibility of having a scientific presentation translated/interpreted correctly unless the scientist "dumbed it down" to what he called baby talk. "
It is hard to know where to start here. There are almost as many mistakes as words in this sentence (an exaggeration of course). I have never excluded anything. I have said several times that I don't know if really technical science talks can be accurately interpreted. Did you read all of my posts? If so, you must have read this sentence, which I wrote on a post on the previous page
"I am not saying that real technical science talks cannot be interpreted reliably, I don't know. "
If you have read this sentence, how can you possibly think what you wrote in the above quote? Now moving on to the baby talk thing, please reread the post in which I used the term 'babytalk', and please please please try to pay attention to the *context* in which I used it. It had nothing to do with interpreting or the ability of interpreters. I was at that point talking about the language that I suspect scientists use when giving talks at the UN where they will probably not be addressing an audience of specialists in their field. I only used the term babytalk to illustrate that it was very simplified compared to what they would use talking to specialists. Once again, nothing to do with interpreting there.
"And that is simply not true. My friend is a medical doctor and works at a research institute. I sometimes translate studies carried out by medical scientists. Some of these studies are published in magazines that are peer-reviewed scientific journals as well. "
This example and all the talk afterwards within that post are irrelevant because I never said that papers cannot be translated. I would be interested to know if you read the post on the previous page in which I wrote
"It is clear that translating science, even the stuff of the most technical nature is possible. As I said on the other thread, there are some journals in physics that publish papers that are not in English and have them translated."
I speculated a bit in one post about the translations potentially containing mistakes, and you seemed to agree that this could be a problem.
So let's have a look at these "very strong views" you think I hold about translating and interpreting. I have said very clearly that translating technical science papers is possible, and I have very good reasons to think that. So that is my very strong view when it comes to translating. You obviously agree with this very strong view. When it comes to interpreting, this discussion started with me asking you if it was possible to interpret scientific talks, obviously not knowing myself (though I did make a guess when I wrote "My guess is no"). When you said they could be interpreted, I responded that "I will take your word for it that technical scientific talks can be interpreted." I don't know if taking a professional interpreter's word for it can be counted as a very strong view. I then went on to express doubt that *the most technical talks* can be interpreted, giving clear reasons for this doubt and making it very clear that I did not know what the answer is. Do you call that a very strong view?March 2014
6511 13 0@Colin
This dispute has the makings of an epic Nerf war: in my opinion the matter should be settled with a 1-on-1 death match between the mad Scottish genius in a lab-coat and the ice cool Austrian Profi-Killer!
Ten darts each - first headshot to win! :-DMarch 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ KingKong
If you want, I can try doing a little more trash talk. Here is my first dart
"I don't know if taking a professional interpreter's word for it can be counted as a very strong view."
Or should I say a professional misinterpreter???
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Robert
I should forward you an interesting email I got today from the head of the research project I am employed by. The email was for everybody in the project and was saying that he will be giving a talk (probably in English) at a meeting of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft in Berlin next week. He wanted to know if any of us want to send him some of our results for him to present. Here is a quote from the email
"The audience will be "physicists", but not specifically "astrophysicists", so it shouldn't be too technically "astronomy related" but can easily use good physics language"
You see, he is giving a talk at a meeting of professional physicists and is warning us about using technical language that the physicists won't understand. Do you think that if you were at this talk that you could tell that he was speaking in a simplified way? Here is a talk he gave at a conference last year for astronomers working within the field of young stars and planets.
Does this sound like a techincal talk to you? This is a simplified review talk in comparison the kind of real technical talks I have been talking about in this thread. Based on what you say, I am sure interpreters can do this talk (if there was a way to pay them). Probably most of the people in the audience didn't understand it. I didn't understand huge parts of it even though this is basically reviewing the project I am working in (partly this is because I got completely trashed the night before; during this talk, I was sitting somewhere to the right of the camera trying not to chunder (I failed)).
(To be clear, this post is not about the abilities of interpreters to interpret technical talks.)March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: (....) ...professional misinterpreter.... (....)
Well, you seem to think very highly of my misinterpreting skills. Thanks for the kudos :-)
Seriously, I'm sure I often misinterpret people. With you this seems to happen more often than with others. We could write hundreds of pages and we'd disagree on certain things and probably agree on many more.
Maybe I came across a bit harsh, if I did, I offer my apologies :-)
I am convinced that anything, absolutely anything can be translated and interpreted under certain circumstances. I never said that I or the colleagues I know would be able to do all of this. I'm convinced, however, that it can be done and that was the general question.
Whatever comes out of your mouth or that of any other expert of any other field can come out with equal accuracy of the mouth of a trained, experienced and - this is very important - properly briefed interpreter. There is no reason whatsoever why this should not be possible.
I have a standard phrase for people who complain about supposedly "bad" translations and interpretations: People get the kind of interpretation and translation they deserve.
This is only my personal opinion and certainly not a motto of our professional associations ;-))
What do I mean by that? Unless we talk about some rather general presentation, an interpreter should be given the presentation beforehand (the full presentation not just an abstract of a few lines). He should have the opportunity to personally contact the speaker BEFORE the presentation in case he has any questions with regard to the presentation. He should be given a list of technical terms, some sort of terminology normally used by the company, group of scientists, researchers etc. working in that specific field.
In addition, any serious interpreter will do his own research on the Internet, with the help of dictionaries etc.
If a speaker fails to offer this kind of support to the interpreter, he shares a big responsibility for any potential disaster. (I'm talking about highly specific presentations here).
If someone wants his speech to be interpreted, he will have to make sure he gets his message across without resorting to some sort of "expert code language" which is only comprehensible to a very small group of people. Why someone would want to do that in the first place when he can convey the same message in other words which are comprehensible to a wider audience of experts, I don't know, but that is not my business.
So, yes, you will talk to your "science buddies" of your own group in a different way compared to how you'd talk to "outsiders". If you want to use terminology that you think is not comprehensible for experts outside of your field of specialty or translators/interpreters it will be your job to make sure they either have access to the resources necessary for proper research on their part or you simply will have to forget about the translating/interpreting part.
You can then use English or whatever other language is widely understood by you and your peers to a degree which allows you to follow each other's presentations in your very own field of expertise.
As for the "simplified talk" issue.
I admit that in many cases I probably would not be able to tell the difference because I lack the professional background. However, I do think that with proper preparation and if provided with the necessary tools of research and, this is essential, the cooperation of the speaker, I could interpret almost any presentation successfully. It is very likely that I would not grasp the underlying scientific concept, but I could still be a valid "assistant" to the speaker when it comes to trying to get his message across even to an expert audience.
As I said before, there are many situations where I would not even dream of accepting an assignment because I feel totally ill-prepared or ill-equipped for the job. There will be many occasions where it will be hard or even impossible to find an interpreter and translator meeting all the necessary requirements for constraints of time, money or other reasons.
I still believe in the general possibility of translating/interpreting anything that any human says or writes.
P.S. While you got my blood pressure in a bit of a turmoil with some of your posts (or my misinterpretations of them), I have very much enjoyed this exchange of opinion.March 2014
40 2 137ad Colin: As for the link to the presentation of your colleague. This is definitely doable by any experienced interpreter. I have had to deal with presentations which were way more technical.
Maybe I can find a presentation I interpreted to show you what I'm talking about (we are normally not allowed to store this material, but I might be able to find something on the Internet. I can't make any promises, though ;-)).
I find his presentation actually rather pleasant to interpret. His way of speaking is a real "gift" to any interpreter. He speaks clearly, slowly and uses a rather limited amount of technical terms. None of which you can't find in any decent dictionary.
You should never forget that I, as an interpeter, need not be able to give you a summary of what I interpreted after my job is done. I need not be able to elaborate on what I interpret. You can easily translate "faint young sun paradox" (Paradoxon der jungen schwachen Sonne) without having any idea of what this is about, for example.
And that's all I have been trying to tell you.March 2014
2050 60 3530@me mate Robert,
Good on yer! I don't wanna come off like a broken two-bob watch or anything, but I really appreciate how ya give us the drum 'n' all here on Link, and fair crack of the whip. I'd boil the billy anytime with ya or head down the local for a yabber and a coke, or whatever ya poison is. I warn you I'm a bit of a two pot screamer these days, so mostly I stick with the lolly water.
I reckon a few of me sheila friends, and a couple of me mates Bazza (he's a sandgroper), and Gazza (he's a Banana bender, but good bloke) would love to have a chin-wag with you down in South Oz.
So anytime you wanna put the knot in the bluey here, give's a yell and we'll be off to meet you like a bride's nightie to see ya. I warn you, me hubby's silly as a wheel and a bit on the bugle, but he's still a good bloke though missing some sheep in the top paddock. Mind you, he might go like a stunned mullet if he heard you talk about scientific stuff and interpreting 'n' all... :)~March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179When did Karl Kennedy sign up to LingQ?March 2014
6511 13 0"...off to meet you like a bride's nightie..."
That is a lovely turn of phrase.
Ah, to be young again (and in the sack with a 19-year-old sheila...)March 2014
6511 13 0"...Yuck, you're too old for a 19 year old^^..."
I guess that's where the "Ah, to be young again" part comes in, Julz.
As for "yuck", well, perhaps you're right - there is a kind of sadness about about bitter old men, as anyone who has seen the film "Scent of a Woman" will know.March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179I am interested to know what a banana bender is. I think I have a pretty good idea.March 2014
2050 60 3530@I-keep-changing-my-name-Canute: - except you're neither bitter nor sad!:)March 2014
40 2 137ad Julie: (...) ...@me mate Robert,
Good on yer! I don't wanna come off like a broken two-bob watch or anything, .......(...)
Now, that is what I call a challenge for a simultaneous interpreter and not any of that lame science stuff.
ad Jay: What is the matter with you?! You think you are "old" at the age of 38? I'm 46 and as happy as a bee ;-)
Don't give up so easily on yourself. Try to spend half of the energy you put into your sarcasm into looking at the good things you have going for yourself and you might actually find you are still quite a catch.
A nice character and a cheerful heart never age.
Leave the aging part to your body (you can't stop that anyway) and send your heart and soul on a wild ride through the adventures of life. Who knows, your body might be able to catch up with your wildest dreams ;-)March 2014
2050 60 3530That What's-His-Name "sign language interpreter" at a certain memorial service, you know the one, I'd bet he could still pull something off! :)~March 2014
6511 13 0@Robert: "...You think you are "old" at the age of 38..."
I recently turned 39...
I appreciate your kind words, I really do. (However I have quite a history of screwing things up - more so than the average person.)
Ich habe aber die Hoffnung keineswegs verloren - durch Gott is nichts unmöglich ;-)March 2014
1208 25761 1209I hope that Colin gets over his
self-confessed childishness and naivety,
which he will do with time,
that Robert remains happy
and that Jay,
you never lose hope.March 2014
376 100585 144And Julie, I hope you never lose your sense of humour and ability to make others laugh!
One of the few phrases I do understand in your amazing collection of Australian colloquial and slang expressions is 'banana bender'. Simply a person from Queensland, a state in Australia. Queenslanders are made fun of by other Australians by saying that anyone who wanders across the border into Queensland has to wind the clock back a few decades. Queensland grows lots of bananas. Someone has to put the bend in them, you cannot have a straight banana! I am sure there are lots of jokes about Queenslanders on the web if anyone is interested.March 2014
0 1588 715I found about it here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=...
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Maria2
But you don't care if I remain an Arschloch?March 2014
1208 25761 1209That's interesting, Colin!
Now why would you think you are an Arschloch?March 2014
376 100585 144I'd boil the billy anytime with you, Julie!
That is, if you mean we'd sit down and have a good old chinwag over a mug of tea!March 2014
Moderator51559 7603 179@ Maria2
Well, as I have proven already, I love to be mean to little girls and make them cry. I am also trying my best to give Robert a heart attack. These are just a few of the things I do for fun.March 2014
1208 25761 1209Sounds rather tame.
I also very much doubt that such an adjective crossed Robert's mind and it is certainly not what he called you.March 2014
2050 60 3530@ginko - My oath! I'd sit down with ya in the top paddock anytime and have a yarn over some damper and tea: )
Funny enough, my parents still speak like that! My uncles also share the same distinct spoken drawl - and some of that wore off on me, which isn't necessarily a good thing, as it can be interpreted as an "uneducated" accent - haha! You can imagine my girls saying "Strewth!" et cetera at school - since their mum is like twice the age of the others and has grown up hearing this...
I remember my Logic professor describing how his daughter, a Court Judge, pronounced Latin terms just like my parents during the first trial she presided over. He cringed!
I did "cut crook" at my 11 year old last night though when I heard her pronounce 'Z' as "zee" instead of "zed"! I said, "You're *Australian*, not American!" My father would have said, "We're not bloody Yanks!" :)~March 2014