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Translation direction

  Tags: Translation
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
46 messages over 6 pages: 1 24 5 6  Next >>
Serpent
Octoglot
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 Message 17 of 46
05 March 2012 at 4:46pm | IP Logged 
Balliballi wrote:
You are involuntarily translating in your head even if you think you aren't when you are learning a new language (either from TL to NL or NL to TL). This is because when you want to express yourself in the target language, the thought you want to express appears in your mind in English (or the native language that you speak) because as a native speaker of English you think in English.
Are you sure it's possible to fool yourself into thinking you don't translate when you actually do? Newbies are usually well aware that they can only translate but not produce/understand directly, and often they try to just learn to translate faster.

D'ye spaek Scots?
That's an example of Scots. Did you need to translate this properly into English?
More example sentences from omniglot: Guid mornin! Whit's yer name? Will ye dance wi me?
In my Romance languages and in Dutch it's pretty much like this. I understand without translating, and if I do translate some bits automatically it's into another language, not my native Russian. Actually rather than translate, I just remember what the word is like in another language, often in its basic form.
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
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 Message 18 of 46
05 March 2012 at 5:02pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
The only translation that's potentially detrimental is word-for-word translation where one completely ignores the requirements of the L2.


Just for the record: the kind of word for word (or hyperliteral) translation I advocate is the one where you butcher your native language while sticking as closely as possible to the target language version.
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atama warui
Triglot
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Japan
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 Message 19 of 46
05 March 2012 at 5:20pm | IP Logged 
Wulfgar wrote:
Agreed.

You use translation, as most people do. Your idea of where the line should be drawn seems to be about the same as mine.
There's no need to imply that translation is bad in general; almost everybody uses it. Making posts like your last one, explaining
when translation should be used, is much more useful. Why do you want to encourage people to buy Rosetta Stone?

By no means I want to encourage people to do that ^^
I would however encourage them to lend it from their library to get their feet wet and see how to use simple things in a simple way, like.. where to put the verb in Japanese sentences. They could also use it to learn a bit of vocab, if they manage to not fall asleep during those lessons.

Instead of translations, what I would do with texts, is just skipping the L1-translation and shoot for a straight re-formulation.

When you understand the gist of something, putting it in other words (and then have it checked, easy nowadays with pages like Lang-8), you'll have the best of both worlds. You'll stay in your target language (and don't have to hop around, breaking the flow) and, while you see one way to say it in action, you can make a conscious effort to express the same while trying to avoid to just apply the same patterns. You would be able to effectively fight to behave like water (going the path of least resistance), which would work counterproductive for studying and training purposes.

P.S.: I have the tendency to talk a lot without saying much, sometimes I try to compensate that by being very frank and brief. Maybe learning Japanese also made me a bit ambiguous sometimes.

Edited by atama warui on 05 March 2012 at 5:24pm

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LaughingChimp
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 Message 20 of 46
05 March 2012 at 5:52pm | IP Logged 
Balliballi wrote:
You are involuntarily translating in your head even if you think you aren't when you are learning a new language (either from TL to NL or NL to TL). This is because when you want to express yourself in the target language, the thought you want to express appears in your mind in English (or the native language that you speak) because as a native speaker of English you think in English. Also, when you try to understand the meaning of a target language sentence, the meaning is expressed in English in your head because you think in English (once again) or in the NL you speak. That is what I am getting at. I do not mean you should do written translation exercises from NL to TL per se, which is what many people think I mean. You may but that is not the focal point of my discussion. I am not debating doing written translations versus not doing written translations in this thread.


Not all people think this way. Don't generalize from a single example.

Arekkusu wrote:
I see no difference between translating into L2 and pure oral L2 production... You have a specific meaning in mind and you need to produce accurate L2 language to convey that meaning. It's an essential skill.


Exactly. I don't understand the advice that translating can help if you don't understand. How can I translate if I don't understand?

Edited by LaughingChimp on 05 March 2012 at 5:56pm

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atama warui
Triglot
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Japan
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 Message 21 of 46
05 March 2012 at 5:59pm | IP Logged 
I don't think I translated when I started with my L2. What happened, happened on a more intuitive level. Add to that, that most of the learning material is in English (also not my L1), abstract ideas forming were probably the most common thing happening even during my very first steps.
This won't apply to words or set expressions. Maybe, at some point... but I don't have experience with learning via phrases. For some reason, it feels wrong and I have yet to try to point my finger on why it seems to not work for me.
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cathrynm
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 Message 22 of 46
05 March 2012 at 6:12pm | IP Logged 
LaughingChimp wrote:

Exactly. I don't understand the advice that translating can help if you don't understand. How can I translate if I don't understand?



With a dictionary, I guess?    I don't know. I'm pretty flighty with methods, to be honest. I've been working on Japanese for 4 years, and I never did any translation until this year. So far it doesn't seem that bad. Basically I think when I just read I tend to kind of 'blah blah blah' over subtle points and unknown connecting words that I don't know well, and if I actually try to translate sentence by sentence it forces me to think about this stuff.
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Iversen
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 Message 23 of 46
05 March 2012 at 8:47pm | IP Logged 
Let's be a little more concrete. A sentence from Irish Gaelic (from Kauderwelsch, which has pronunciations, word for word AND ordinary translations - I give the English equivalents in my own notation below):

Is fuath le hEilís caife
Is! hated with [h]Eilis coffee
Eilis hates coffee

The exclamation sign is my own invention. It helps me to avoid the nagging feeling that the sentence ought to be a question because of the inversion. The [h] (a variant of the system of consonant changes known as aspiration or lenition) reminds me that there is aspiration/lenition in this context ([h] is used with initial vowels after certain 'grammar words' - here the preposition "le" - while a h is put after most consonants in the writing: d -> dh etc.).

Maybe you don't need this kind of procedure, but for me such a hyperliteral translation has (or rather had) a mnemotechnic function akin to the translations of isolated words - I so to say formulate a translation af the Irish construction rather than a direct translation of the words. Which is one reason for using the term "hyperliteral" instead of "word for word".

It is fairly evident that the 'ordinary' meaning oriented translation into English not only doesn't tell you anything about how the Irish language functions - it is simply misleading because it tempts you to make a gross translation error if you trust it. You may like hyperliteral translations or not, I don't mind, but free translations are something any language learner should avoid like the plague.


Edited by Iversen on 05 March 2012 at 8:52pm

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atama warui
Triglot
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Japan
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 Message 24 of 46
05 March 2012 at 10:10pm | IP Logged 
Inline translations are quite funny actually. I ran a forum with 2 native Japanese speakers for a while, where we would help each other out, effectively learning from explanations given to the other party as well.

I first wrote a sentence in Japanese, then the inline translation, then the natural version, then an explanation of what I thought was going on. We then discussed the points and almost always both sides learned something through this process.

Unfortunately, I was offline for half a year. This kind of contact could never be established anymore.

However, I still think that, at a certain stage, going straight L2 without interference of your mother tongue, helps you stay in the flow, making it easier to start to think in your L2, which in turn speeds up the process of making your version of the L2 closer to the original (yes, I read the text that Wulfgar linked, and some parts of it, I found particularly fitting).


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