Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Can you translate

five pages of Italian? Well yes, I would like it yesterday but, since that has passed, this evening would do nicely. What do you mean you are not a translation service? What do you mean you don't speak Italian?
I really do get some odd requests from people. I have a minimal knowledge of Italian. I can say a few obvious phrases. I can use a dictionary intelligently - meaning I know enough about the language to translate something for myself. I do not do translations for other people. Apart from the fact that they take time there is the accuracy issue. Translation is an inexact science at the best of times, with me at the helm we could be way off course. Translations also take time. There is a vast difference between the single words on communication boards and entire pages with all the grammar and the syntax and all the other issues. In this case there are also regional issues. Italian varies from north to south and south to north. It probably varies from west to east too.
To get five pages professionally translated would be expensive of course, very expensive. I was once quoted $130 for a single sentence in Russian because that was the hourly rate and the charge was for not less than an hour. Needless to say I went elsewhere - a dictionary, a grammar and someone who knew a little bit of Russian. There are ways around these things.
I suggest finding someone who actually speaks Italian and suggest a few names.
I go back to a much more difficult problem, a misunderstanding that is causing a major diplomatic rift.There is always the danger of being misunderstood and it is not necessarily because you speak a different language at the surface.
Surface language can be the same. Subtext can be quite different. Learning to communicate is a lifelong process.

6 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

I was once quoted $130 for a single sentence in Russian because that was the hourly rate and the charge was for not less than an hour.

Who by - the Russian Mafia? Heck, I'm giving up trying to earn a living from writing and will become a Russian something or other!

catdownunder said...

No, too many Russian translators around Donna - try something more unusual like Armenian or Zulu! Top ranking instant interpreters can charge huge fees.

Rachel Fenton said...

Donna made me laugh!

"Can you translate"

"Yes, if you are an editor for Random House" ;)

Hey, I'll translate it anyway, you can't read Italian, how are you going to know I made it up?! :)

catdownunder said...

:-} Rachel!

Holly said...

and as we all know -

the Americans and Brits are two countries divided by a common language.

The price you quoted is pretty constant around the world for what is charged by certified translation personnel.

Most with whom I am acquainted charge by the page. Doesn't matter how many sentences are on that page....

catdownunder said...

Tell me about it Holly! I am more aware than most people I know and I still make blunders! Sigh...