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Re: Do Translators Make Better Writers?

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Community Guru
Gabor K Member Since: Apr 1, 2015
11 of 19

I second that and thank you for this post, Ronald.

I started my career at oDesk by writing some eBooks (but was looking for translation jobs).
My work is of a not widely searched for niche (English-Hungarian translations, as I'm a native Hungarian person), but there were lots of times, when I got invites for creative article writing (and have got some long-term clients in the process as well). I think translators make great writers, as we are interested in bringing out and caring for the small details. Smiley Happy


Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
12 of 19

A translator who is not a good writer in his or her target (and native) language sucks. I could write a book about this, but right now I only have enough time for two sentences.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
13 of 19

As a writer who is not a translator, I may be biased. But, there is much more to good writing than impeccable use of English. There is a creative element, an ability to adopt different voices, an ability to simplify complex concepts, etc. Some of those elements may also come into play in translation, and I don't doubt that many translators, immersed as they are in the language, are excellent writers. I'm not at all sure, though, that it's a direct and consistent correlation.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
14 of 19

I've edited many material written in French and translations done in French. And I see the same pattern emerging in badly written texts and in poorly translated texts. To me it is absolutely obvious that people who produce bad translations are bad writers.

 

Other factors can weigh in poorly done translations: lack of time spent on the task (overloaded translator), lack of translation skills, lack of command of the source language (amateurs). But the lack of writing skills transpires through a translation.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
15 of 19

@Rene K wrote:

I've edited many material written in French and translations done in French. And I see the same pattern emerging in badly written texts and in poorly translated texts. To me it is absolutely obvious that people who produce bad translations are bad writers.

 

Other factors can weigh in poorly done translations: lack of time spent on the task (overloaded translator), lack of translation skills, lack of command of the source language (amateurs). But the lack of writing skills transpires through a translation.


 I fail to see the connection.

 

Poorly written texts remain poorly written texts no matter how many times they are transalated into any number of other languages. Any attempt to "improve" a poorly written text through translation comes down to a rewrite, regardless of how skilled the translator is.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
16 of 19

Reinier B wrote:


 I fail to see the connection.

Poorly written texts remain poorly written texts no matter how many times they are transalated into any number of other languages. Any attempt to "improve" a poorly written text through translation comes down to a rewrite, regardless of how skilled the translator is.


My point was: bad translators make the same mistakes while translating that bad writers make while writing. Thus the correlation between translators' writing and translation skills.

 

I am not saying anything about the initial quality of texts being translated, but I agree 100 % with what you wrote about this.

 

 

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
17 of 19

I completely agree with Tiffany.

 

And, for what it's worth, most of the translators I've studied still have grammatical issues with their English writing (especially when it comes to prepositions/prepositional phrases; but, truth be told, even "native" English speakers have the "prepositional issue"). For a quid pro quo: if I tried to translate something into Spanish or French, I'm sure the pro translators would laugh me straight out of the forums!

 

While I've studied several different languages, I know I'm not a translator. Though, if trained, I could be. I am, however, a writer and having studied French, Spanish, German, Sanskrit, Gaelic, Japanese (among others), knowing at least bits and pieces of other languages certainly BOOSTS my writing vocabulary.

 

Of course, there are exceptions. But, as Tiffany stated, there isn't a direct correlation. 

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
18 of 19

@Kat C wrote:

I completely agree with Tiffany.

 

And, for what it's worth, most of the translators I've studied still have grammatical issues with their English writing  


I think there is a misunderstanding here. When we talk about the writing skills on translators, we are talking about the writing skills in their native language. Not in their source language.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
19 of 19

Where was that explicitly stated in each post in this discussion?

 

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