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Translation direction

  Tags: Translation
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
46 messages over 6 pages: 1 2 3 4 5
s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3937 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 41 of 46
2012 14 March at 12:31pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
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.

I find the debate about the usefulness of (hyper)literal vs free translations quite interesting. I don't, however, see a conflict in using both. They have very different purposes.

If I understand correctly, the purpose of using a literal translation is to get insight into the mechanics of L2 language by seeing how corresponding elements of L1 are organized in L2. Sounds like a good idea to me, and I think we all do it to some extent because we can "see" how L2 works. But there are limitations and caveats.

The assumption behind literal translations is that you can map in some form of one to one relationship elements of L2 to L1. This works only to a certain point. Let's look at some examples. Here something that works well in French (L2).

Je vois le chien
I see the dog

Let's put it in the past.

J'ai vu le chien
I've seen the dog

Not bad, but one could question whether I've seen is the appropriate translation of J'ai vu depending on the context. Now let's make this a question. There are two ways.

Avez-vous vu le chien?
Have you seen the dog?

This works quite well in appearance. Here's the other form?

Est-ce que vous avez vu le chien?
Is it that you have seen the dog?

In this last sentence, one could question whether Est-ce que should really be translated by Is it that it really is more of a pure question marker than should not be broken down into three elements. For example, when we look at a similar English phrase:

Did you see the dog?

What does Did mean? How would it be translated literally into French? I really don't know. One could argue that Did here has nothing to do with the verb To do and is just a question marker with a tense aspect.

As long as you stay with relatively simple structures where one can readily match elements in the two languages, literal translation can work and certainly can be useful. But there are limits when L2 has very different structures. Here's a very common example with the idiomatic translation:

Il faut que vous veniez tout de suite. (You must come right away)

Frankly, I have no idea how one could translate this literally. Maybe somebody here can have a go at it. Similarly, constructions with pronominal verbs tend to be meaningless.

Je me suis loué une voiture. (I rented a car.)
I me am rented a car.

One could argue that the literal translation here gives us insight into how French syntax works. Maybe. I tend to think it confuses more than it helps.


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DaraghM
Diglot
Senior Member
Ireland
Joined 4658 days ago

1947 posts - 2923 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French, Russian, Hungarian

 
 Message 42 of 46
2012 14 March at 3:01pm | IP Logged 
A quick attempt at literal translations.

s_allard wrote:

Il faut que vous veniez tout de suite. (You must come right away)


It is necessary that you come right away.

s_allard wrote:


Je me suis loué une voiture. (I rented a car.)
I me am rented a car.


I (for me) rented a car - I rented a car for myself. However, I thought 'se louer' also meant to be pleased, so I may have mistranslated.

Edited by DaraghM on 2012 14 March at 3:11pm

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Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3888 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 43 of 46
2012 14 March at 4:21pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
Il faut que vous veniez tout de suite. (You must come right away)

Frankly, I have no idea how one could translate this literally.


Il faut que vous veniez tout de suite.
It must-be that you come right away.

I suppose some people may find this type of in-between translation to be a good temporary tool to help them remember the underlying structures of their L2. Might help get an instinctive feel for where the words go when you need to use these structures live.

I guess I sometimes do that to make sense of complex structures, but only as a temporary crutch until I can access the resulting sentence directly.
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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3937 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 44 of 46
2012 14 March at 6:27pm | IP Logged 
I don't want to go offtopic with this question of literal translation, but I would like to point out that according what would seem to be the definition of hyperliteral translation, one would have to translate at least word for word. So, we would have something like:

Il faut que vous veniez tout de suite.
Il must that you come all of next.

Or for example, how could one translate literally something like the following into another language?

The system will be up and running in an hour.

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Balliballi
Groupie
Korea, SouthRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3199 days ago

70 posts - 115 votes 
Studies: Korean

 
 Message 45 of 46
2012 15 March at 12:17am | IP Logged 
LaughingChimp wrote:

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.


You should write the same post that you wrote to me TO YOURSELF.

Remember you agreed with me when you agreed with Arekkusu.

And whether you meant to put the two quotes (one disagreeing with me and the other agreeing with Arekkusu)
next to each other in the same post is completely irrelevant.

Do keep on ignoring the fact that you contradicted yourself.

(That is what I mean by your having faulty reading comprehension.)

Edited by Balliballi on 2012 15 March at 12:18am

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LaughingChimp
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3206 days ago

346 posts - 594 votes 
Speaks: Czech*

 
 Message 46 of 46
2012 15 March at 12:46am | IP Logged 
Balliballi: I'm sorry, I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.


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