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Languages

German


German is the language of technology and science. Due to its dense sentence structure, a lot of information can be contained in a short space, which is one of the strengths of the German language. It can require a some skill to unpack those information-rich German sentences into readable English. Sometimes the information in a single German sentence needs to be redistributed into two or even three separate sentences in English.

 

A good translator will not always follow German word order and sentence construction, in order to avoid German-flavored English or English that doesn't sound natural. In fact, it can be very easy to spot English texts that were originally written in German because of all the usual German phrases and sentence constructions. A good translator will know how to bring out the meaning, while avoiding all these features that make German so wonderful in its own context, but do not ring true in an English translation.

 

One example of this is the way Germans list features. Where we would say, "it has A and B," Germans like to say, "it not only has A, but it also has B." If they add a third feature, this will be connected with "as well as," resulting in sentences like, "it not only has A, but it also has B, as well as C." Usually, in English, we would just say, "it has A, B and C." I think the German way of thinking here is to highlight and amplify each feature. But in English, this can sound too much like the kind of invasive and annoying marketing messages that say, "You not only get this, but if you act now, we'll throw this in, and not only that, this!"

 

Another is the German language's love for words like "jeweilig," and other words which mean "respective," "corresponding," and "relevant." A literal translation into English usually ends up with a lot of phrases like that sound like, "the corresponding team members must hand in their respective reports on the relevant findings," which works in German, because all these words are being used to point out concepts that were mentioned earlier in the document, without having to repeat them again. The corresponding team is the one assigned to the specific project. Each team hands in their own report. The relevant findings are the findings from the area they are researching, according to the guidelines provided. English usually cuts to the chase and just says, "team members must hand in their reports on their findings."

 

Another German habit is stacking adjectives, which is what makes the sentence structure so dense. Where in English, we separate meanings out into their own clauses, each with their own verbs, German usually just stacks all of that information as adjectives in front of the subject. For example, in English we might say, "The Christmas presents, which were sent by train from Berlin, arrived yesterday and we opened them today." Germans might say, "The train-shipped Berlin-sent yesterday-arrived Christmas packages we today opened." I might be exaggerating here to make the point, but it's still true. This is what makes German a rich language because of its ability to pack a lot of information into a small space and it reflects a way of thinking and a worldview that is highly organized and efficient.

 

The English language has also become simplified over the last centuries. We have lost the use of "thou" and "thee" which were used to address people we were on a familiar basis with. (You was for people we didn't know well and it helped to emphasize the relational distance between us, and it was also used for talking to more than one person at a time.) We have also lost all those wonderful words that meant motion from one place to another, such as "wither, hither, hence and whence" which helped amplify the concept of motion in time and space. These words are replaced now by words which originally meant being in one place, without movement. For example, "where" has replaced all usages of "where, whence and whither," which meant: what is the specific place, from what place have you come, and what place are you going to, respectively (if I can use the word "respectively," without sounding too German). In German, these words are still used. They are, "wo, woher, and wohin," and the last two indicate movement. These and many more examples like them help keep German sounding like Shakespearean English, and that's a good thing. For translation into English however, we've got to go modern and avoid words which sound archaic to the modern reader, so no "whither goest thou?" which is what they say in German. We have to say, "Where are you going?"

 

 

 

 

Spanish

 

I translate all varieties of Spanish, but I especially am familiar with Spanish spoken in the Dominican Republic. Though Dominican Spanish shares much of the vocabulary common to the Spanish spoken in other parts of the world, it has its own terms, slang and often very unique ways of structuring sentences and expressing ideas that someone not familiar with Dominican Spanish can sometimes misunderstand.

Italian

 

Italian to English Translation.

 

Italian is the language of fashion, art and the culinary arts.