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On Reading Easy Stuff

  Tags: Reading
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
44 messages over 6 pages: 1 2 3 4 5
robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3573 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 41 of 44
12 October 2014 at 2:24am | IP Logged 
Icaria909 wrote:

Unless the writing is very clear and straightforward, the translations into your L2 can
become very strange. I work at a book store and I was helping a friend find children's
books that can be found in both English and Spanish (they were a gift for his cousin, who
speaks only Spanish). Some of the easiest books were well translated, but the longer or
more poetic the original English book, the more bizarre the Spanish translation. I find the
choices many translators make in regards to the Harry Potter series to be equally
problematic.


Sure, there are some bad translations out there. However, many are good. In my experience, translations start to
feel a lot weirder when you know the original language. You start to see things where infrequent words and
constructions are used frequently because they're used to render frequent constructions in the original language.
They seem a lot more natural when you can't "see through the translation" to the original text.

Reading works written originally in the target language is preferable in a lot of circumstances, but I favor the idea
that in this particular circumstance of extensive unaided reading of easy texts in a language you haven't yet
mastered, the most important thing is for the text to be on a familiar topic and preferable something you've
already read. If there are books that fit this bill that you've already read a translation of, then great! You can then
go read the original, and get the best of both worlds.

In a lot of countries, the majority of reading in certain genres is done in translation. For instance, in English-
speaking countries most reading of religious texts is done in translation. In Brazil people read more translated
popular fiction books (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Detective thrillers, Dan Brown, etc) than Portuguese-
originals, but mostly read Portuguese-original nonfiction. I assume in a smaller language like Slovene or Catalan
a high proportion of books people read are translations no matter the genre. Perception of what sounds right and
what sounds weird will vary accordingly, but as long as you trust the translation's quality, it should not contain
any structures that are so unnatural that you should avoid learning to use them.

Another consideration is that certain language pairs are harder than others to translate. For instance, a book
translated from Chinese to English usually reads a little weird. In contrast, it's pretty hard to tell if something has
been translated from Norwegian to Swedish unless some Norway-specific content comes up.
3 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3944 days ago

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

 
 Message 42 of 44
13 October 2014 at 8:01pm | IP Logged 
I'm now reading a self-help book translated from American English to Spanish. For my purposes the translation is
very good. The problem that I see when comparing the translation to Spanish-language works is more the cultural
references that are hard to translate. I can see how the translator has tried to adapt for the Spanish reader some
typical American anecdote that one finds constantly in these kind of books. It's not exactly weird but it does mean
that this work does not have a ring of Spanish authenticity. It feels like a translation.
2 persons have voted this message useful



luke
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5719 days ago

3133 posts - 4350 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Esperanto, French

 
 Message 43 of 44
14 October 2014 at 1:18am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
I'm now reading a self-help book translated from American English to Spanish. For my
purposes the translation is very good. The problem that I see when comparing the translation to Spanish-
language works is more the cultural references that are hard to translate. I can see how the translator has
tried to adapt for the Spanish reader some typical American anecdote that one finds constantly in these kind
of books. It's not exactly weird but it does meanthat this work does not have a ring of Spanish authenticity. It
feels like a translation.


I found Los Siete Pasos para Ser Mas Feliz to be a good self-help read. Fonolibro used to release the
unabridged audio, which was read by the author and very good. I liked the book because it's not a translation
and found it really helped my Spanish.
1 person has voted this message useful



robarb
Nonaglot
Senior Member
United States
languagenpluson
Joined 3573 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 44 of 44
14 October 2014 at 5:41am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:

The problem that I see when comparing the translation to Spanish-language works is more the cultural
references that are hard to translate. I can see how the translator has tried to adapt for the Spanish reader some
typical American anecdote that one finds constantly in these kind of books. It's not exactly weird but it does
mean
that this work does not have a ring of Spanish authenticity. It feels like a translation.


As an American, I find it useful to have read examples of how to say in Spanish things that Americans typically
say, but Spanish speakers don't. Sure it's nice to be able to tell anecdotes like a native, but there are also times
when I want to say something really culturally American, but in a language other than English. It depends on your
goals; if your goal is to be just like a native all the time, it's not useful, but I want to be able to be my American
self in Spanish at least sometimes.




3 persons have voted this message useful



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