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Translation direction

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atama warui
Triglot
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 Message 33 of 46
2012 06 March at 7:50am | IP Logged 
Guess I should just move on, but I'd like to let you know what I think:

1) What are you quoting here?
2) What, you didn't read his question?
3) Thank you for ignoring me completely
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Arekkusu
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 Message 34 of 46
2012 06 March at 12:53pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
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.
You're an experienced learner, though. And really even for me it's difficult not to be
limited by the original wording when translating. If an idea does appear in my mind in the wrong language, I
often have to formulate it differently before I'm able to translate it.
Now think of a newbie who still doesn't properly realize that a sentence is more than just a sum of words
and/or that people who speak foreign languages fluently don't translate everything in their heads...

In order to move away from the exact wording and concentrate on the meaning, doing this type of exercice
orally, without looking at the original sentence, might help.
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Iversen
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 Message 35 of 46
2012 06 March at 1:45pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
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.

LaughingChimp wrote:
I don't get it. Why should correct translations tempt you to make errors?


The example was:
Is fuath le hEilís caife
Is! hated with [h]Eilis coffee
Eilis hates coffee

The last sentence gives the meaning of the Irish original, but if you inadvertently used it as a pattern to form Irish sentences you would end up with something that was seriously unidiomatic (like Google Translate's suggestion "Eilis fuath caife"). If you use the hyperliteral translation as a pattern you can't avoid learning the special Irish construction. That's why I say the free translation is misleading.

Iversen wrote:
You may like hyperliteral translations or not, I don't mind, but free translations are something any language learner should avoid like the plague.

LaughingChimp wrote:
Would you prefer imprecise literal translation over more precise free translation?


Two bad choices indeed!

I suppose that by claiming that the hyperliteral translation is imprecise you refer to situations where an idiomatic expression has some totally unexpected and unforeseeable meaning - which hardly is the case here (except maybe concerning the preposition "le", 'with'). In such a case I would still know to know how the original expression is constructed, because otherwise I have no idea about what goes on in the brain of an Irish speaker ... but I may need some supplementary information about the meaning - and luckily Kauderwelsch has added free translations in their books to give me that.

Basically the dilemma is choosing between form and meaning. Saying that the Irish example and the free translation have the same meaning doesn't tell me what the Irish speakers actually say. You can of course learn "Is fuath le hEilís caife" by heart, but next time you may need to say that Padraig loves coffee and then you are stuck. To learn to use a language productively you need to know how things are expressed in that language, and then it is just irrelevant how your own language would have expressed the same things.

Edited by Iversen on 2012 06 March at 1:51pm

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LaughingChimp
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 Message 36 of 46
2012 06 March at 4:28pm | IP Logged 
Balliballi wrote:


Yes, I know you don't agree with this, but you agree with Arekkusu who said this:

Quote:
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.


which is paraphrasing what I said in the quote above.

This is illogical.

As I said, I think you really need to work on your reading comprehension.


No, you don't understand. I'm saying that not everyone's thoughts appear in English (or their native language). My thoughts are thoughts and if I want to share them with someone else, I have to formulate them in language. This process is exactly same for all languages, including L1. Formulating the thoughts in Czech first and then again in another language would make no sense for me, it would be a waste of time.
If I want to translate something, I have to understand the meaning first and then produce something with similar meaning in the target language. So it's not different from sharing my own thoughts. That's what I belive Arekkusu had in mind.

You should not assume that everyone thinks in the same way.
Typical mind fallacy
http://lesswrong.com/lw/dr/generalizing_from_one_example/

Iversen wrote:

The example was:
Is fuath le hEilís caife
Is! hated with [h]Eilis coffee
Eilis hates coffee

The last sentence gives the meaning of the Irish original, but if you inadvertently used it as a pattern to form Irish sentences you would end up with something that was seriously unidiomatic (like Google Translate's suggestion "Eilis fuath caife"). If you use the hyperliteral translation as a pattern you can't avoid learning the special Irish construction. That's why I say the free translation is misleading.


Why should I think it's "Eilis fuath caife" if I just read it's "Is fuath le hEilís caife"? That's illogical. With several sentences like that, it should be easy to spot the general pattern. If you learn how to say "Eilis hates coffee", "Padraig loves coffee", "Eilis loves tea", you should have no trouble producing similar sentences like that. You may need more examples if it's highly irregular, but that applies to hyperliteral translation as well.

Iversen wrote:
I suppose that by claiming that the hyperliteral translation is imprecise you refer to situations where an idiomatic expression has some totally unexpected and unforeseeable meaning


I mean that the free translation may be closer to the intended meaning than the literal translation. Literal translation will tell you what words they used, but not necessarily what they actually said. Words and grammatical contructions often don't have exact equivalents, so a too literal translation may distort the meaning.

Edited by LaughingChimp on 2012 06 March at 4:55pm

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Iversen
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 Message 37 of 46
2012 07 March at 11:39am | IP Logged 
LaughingChimp wrote:
Literal translation will tell you what words they used, but not necessarily what they actually said.


In my perspective they said exactly what they said with the words they used - but speakers of another language (which could be English or Danish) would have said something totally different with words that added up to another literal meaning. However the purpose of the two messages might still be the same. The same thing can happen within one language - there is more than one way to skin a cat.

My first thought after reading LaughingChimp's latest reply is that he likes free translations because he uses them as I use translations from for instance Chinese, which I don't intend to learn - to get the meaning, and to get it as precisely as possible. And this he keeps isolated from the actual task of learning the target language. How he generalizes from the sentences he learn is not my business, but he does mention generalizing from examples. OK, I use hyperliteral translations as part of this generalization process and to function as an intermediary step where I cut out certain harmful influences from constructions in my base language. And if there are informations about the meaning which I can't guess from the hyperliteral translation then I make a note about it - for instance in the form of a free translation of a short passage. But basically I don't see the necessity of a free translation, because I mostly can guess the meaning AND the intention when I know the elements.

In other words, LaughingChimp is using an extreme top-down-approach, where I use a bottom-up approach starting with the basic elements (words, constructions) and then looking at the meanings that come out of the soup. So when he says
Quote:

"Why should I think it's "Eilis fuath caife" if I just read it's "Is fuath le hEilís caife"? That's illogical."

..then my answer would be: no, it would actually be perfectly logical to expect "Eilis fuath caife" if you let yourself be inspired by the standard free translation. There is no way you could guess the Irish construction on the basis of the English one. But LaughingChimp doesn't see this as a problem because he apparently doesn't use the translation to summarize the form, but just the meaning. How he does his generalization without this tool is none of my business (and he is of course not alone in doing whatever he does), but I suspect that the picture of a disgusted Eilis with a cup of coffee might be as relevant as a free translation when only the general meaning is used.

I remember with some irritation a concrete situation where I had borrowed a bilingual edition of Petronii Satyricon (in slightly Vulgar Latin with a 'free' Italian translation). I had expected some help from the translation, but spent more time on trying to see what parts of the Italian text actually concorded with passages in the Latin text than I spent on learning Latin words and constructions (traduttore tradittore, as they say down there). At the end I completely dropped the translation and just used my dictionary and my grammar to get through the Latin text. In contrast I have profited greatly from bilingual texts in other languages, where the translation was an errorridden Google translation. Having a very literal (if not downright hyperliteral) translation made by a competent human being without literary aspirations would of course be even better.

Edited by Iversen on 2012 08 March at 12:32pm

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LaughingChimp
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 Message 38 of 46
2012 12 March at 10:37pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Quote:

"Why should I think it's "Eilis fuath caife" if I just read it's "Is fuath le hEilís caife"? That's illogical."

..then my answer would be: no, it would actually be perfectly logical to expect "Eilis fuath caife" if you let yourself be inspired by the standard free translation. There is no way you could guess the Irish construction on the basis of the English one. But LaughingChimp doesn't see this as a problem because he apparently doesn't use the translation to summarize the form, but just the meaning. How he does his generalization without this tool is none of my business (and he is of course not alone in doing whatever he does), but I suspect that the picture of a disgusted Eilis with a cup of coffee might be as relevant as a free translation when only the general meaning is used.


No, it makes no sense. You obviously haven't explained some crucial part of your reasoning. Why should I think it's "Eilis fuath caife" if I was directly taught it's "Is fuath le hEilís caife"??

If you tell me how to say "Eilis hates coffee", "Padraig hates tea" and "Eilis loves tea", (with pronunciation, if possible) I can show you an example of my approach.
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Iversen
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 Message 39 of 46
2012 13 March at 12:16pm | IP Logged 
The crucial element is "if you let yourself be inspired by the standard free translation". Maybe you can learn language alone from generalizations within the target language (aided by hints about the general meaning from free translations), and then good luck and feel free to ignore anything about literal and hyperliteral translations. You don't need to show me examples of this process - I already know it because I do generalizations all the time.

In contrast I have used literal and hyperliteral translations as a useful tool when I attacked new languages and needed to make sense of otherwise incomprehensible texts. I wanted to know what the sentences in front of me actually said .. and why. In some cases it was useful to see that the sum of the elements was something I couldn't guess myself, and then a free translation might be marginally useful, but mostly it was just irrelevant because it just told me what speakers of a base language would have said in a certain situation, but not how the speakers of my target language express themselves. A hyperliteral translation functions for me as a summary of the inner workings of a text, just as a map functions as a description of a landscape. If you never have used translations for this purpose then it is understandable that you can't see the benefits, but apparently you can survive without it, and that's fine.

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mrwarper
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 Message 40 of 46
2012 14 March at 2:49am | IP Logged 
As I'm sure many here know, the common belief that we think 'in language' is a pet peeve of mine, so I'll be brief about that. This belief is rooted in the fact that thought can and often does incorporate linguistic elements. However, that doesn't mean thoughts are necessarily expressed in language inside one's brain. This should become rather apparent from the fact that any healthy adult can perform many voluntary physical actions very fast. Faster, actually, not than the time it takes to name them, but the time it takes to even think of the words to name them. For example, one can point his/her finger at several given places alternatively at a pace of several times per second. Each of these individual actions is performed voluntarily so it follows thoughts, yet it is executed faster than one can think of any related words. Thought is thus non-linguistic at its core. Many other similar proofs are easy to come up with.

The interesting thing here is, though, that any language is essentially a bridge to communicate thoughts. We do so by translating whatever we think into words following a set of rules that have to be applied "backwards" by our audience to interpret the speaker's thoughts -- both "translation" processes are almost completely unknown in any meaningful level of detail, though. The only clear thing is that almost every thought can be expressed in slightly different ways, and everything we say can be interpreted in slightly different ways, which obviously implies that misinterpretation must be common in varying degrees even among people who share the same language, let alone if someone handles "the rules" even more differently because (s)he speaks some other language.

That is why I don't think it's healthy to neglect any part of the transit between thoughts and words. Effectively learning a language is mastering its elements and rules to a level that lets the learner BOTH interpret words as (in)accurately as natives, and express his thoughts so he is understood the same way, within proficiency limits. Aiming at anything else is unnecessarily adding noise to communication.

WRT spatial distribution of TL/NL pairs, we tend to be stuck with a different one in every book or whatever, so I think it's better to dedicate some time to become flexible enough to work with them however they are distributed.

I consider language-to-language translation an excellent language learning tool, with a particular preference for parallel texts: "I know exactly what this means in X, so the same thing in B is..." -- can it really get any better? L/L translation is, however, as prone as any other tool to hinder the learner's progress as it is to speed it up -- there's always the need to learn how to use properly every tool.

In that regard, I think the ideal parallel text for learners would be made from an original text plus BOTH a literal word-for-word translation and a good, meaning-preserving one (if scarce, good translators exist after all). Many people will work most of the time with one of them, but both types have different uses depending on the source text, what languages are involved and the learner's level. To understand a text piece it is necessary to understand most of the words in it and what they are doing in the places they occupy. A word-for-word translation will do for the most part, but because of the nuances lost in each individual translation, possibly different word order and others, that may not be enough to reconstruct the intended meaning. Idioms represent an extreme case, where even perfect knowledge of every word and role (through L/L translation or otherwise) may or may not, by definition, be enough to infer the correct meaning of the whole piece. A meaning-preserving translation is tremendously effective here, while it is true that it will impede to focus on how structures are built in the TL, etc. The thing is, most of the time none of these types of translations will do by itself for most learners so I think it's better to have (or look for!) them both from the beginning.

Edited by mrwarper on 2012 14 March at 2:58am



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