Re: Spanish translation of manuals

Subject: Re: Spanish translation of manuals
From: JIMCHEVAL -at- AOL -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 8 May 1997 17:32:30 -0400

In a message dated 97-05-08 12:44:22 EDT, svictor -at- HOUSTON -dot- GEOQUEST -dot- SLB -dot- COM
(Stephen Victor) writes:

<< Companies pay big bucks to have their manuals translated into all sorts
of languages, including Spanish. It looks like you're suggesting writing
simultaneously (sort of) in both languages? >>
The question is, are you really and truly bi-lingual?

I speak fluent French, but still had to have a secretary correct manuals I
wrote in Paris. The conventional wisdom is that one should only translate
INTO one's native tongue. Of course, with technical manuals, enough of the
terms are often derived from English, that the result otherwise may be
comprehensible even if it's not idiomatic. However, if you weren't actually
brought up speaking and writing both languages, you run the risk of creating
a Spanish-language equvalent to those much-mocked manuals from Japan.

Never mind the variations in regional Spanish - Christina, the
Spanish-language talk show hostess, has talked about the perils of trying to
broadcast one form of Spanish to all these different countries - "Taking the
bus" in one area's idiom translates as "Getting pregnant" in another.
(Remember Jimmy Carter 'making love' to the Poles? Or Kennedy saying "Ich
bin ein Berliner", which I'm told means "I'm a condom"? Somehow these things
ALWAYS come out sexual.)

Not that the risk doesn't exist within English itself. When I was visiting
London for Wang, I asked why they used "Wang Guard" to refer to the service
contract known elsewhere as "Wang Care". Even as I pronounced the latter
phrase, though, I realized its homophony with the common English term for an
auto-satisfying individual.

Jim C.
Los Angeles
<A HREF="";>Chez Jim: Jim Chevallier's Home Page<

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