Thursday, 8 January 2009

Editors needed!

My time in China has shown me that the Chinese language is not easy to translate into English - and that more quality editors are needed. So often there is a literal translation from Chinese to English and the folk think that it is a quality translation.

For example the word "river" - it seems that in China an element of water that in the English language in the UK, or Australia, a river would be a large flow of river, a
natural water course. Here "river" is used to describe waterways that clearly are not natural, and don't resemble anything I would call a river.

Recently while staying at a hotel that was described as 'overlooking a river' I discovered it was a "canal" - a somewhat polluted man made waterway.

I've written elsewhere about that - but additionally when things are printed - the come out different, because the printers do not know the difference. If they are typesetting in English, it is very hard for printers. Thankfully things are more computerised now, but still no one can pick up the errors.

I have had students in exam consistently write some bad English - when I refer to the text book, the errors are there. The students are learning incorrectly from text books that should have been edited and corrected.

If a Chinese company hires a translator to translate from Chinese to English, they usually do not know that the resulted words are Chinglish, and don't make sense in English. It is impossible to translate directly from Chinese to English without editing. Impossible!!!

As well, with Chinese English teachers, they often have to rely on material that is prepared without an editor. Not only that, Chinese naturally have difficulty pronouncing some sounds "th" and "l" in particular. So "mother" becomes "muzer" and "fall" and "tall" become "for" and "tor".

Then comes a foreign teacher whose native tongue is English and it is somewhat of a nightmare. The students believe their Chinese English teacher!

It is a nightmare for a foreign teacher to mark examinations because in many cases one knows that the errors are because the students have been taught incorrectly. The longer I am here the more I understand.

What to do about it? I have no idea!!!


James Hermans said...

Hi Di,
Nice to read your blog. I have had some of the material written about Q magnets translated to Chinese for a Chinese website. One expert in Chinese language and culture I met suggested anything that has been translated from English to Chinese, have someone else translate back to English again and see how accurate it is compared to the original.
Look forward to catching up when you are back.

Di Hill said...

That is for sure!!!! Look forward to catching up.