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A typical quality of book translation from English to Polish?


catsoldier 62 | 596
31 Oct 2011  #1
When a book is translated from English to Polish are there any problems reading the book? Do the translators do a good job or can you find mistakes?

Do the translators go for a literal translation or would they use the corresponding Polish saying? Or would they go for corresponding Polish version first and then if that doesn't exist do the best job that they can translating the author's words.

For example in English we would say that it is raining cats and dogs while in Polish you might say leje jak cebra. By the way I don't get how it can rain like a zebra!

I found this in the first page of a book that I am reading(I will have many questions no doubt if I get beyond the first page!!! This is unlikely so no worries)

skrót RPF, do Reprezentacyjnego Pokoju Frontowego. Do salonu in Polish I guess.

zebra in Poland
pawian 155 | 8,477
31 Oct 2011  #2
Of course the Polish saying is used in translation.Who would understand thatit is raining like cats and dogs? But it needn`t be leje jak z cebra - we have an animal saying for that, too: leje żabami - it is raining frogs.
Cosmopolish - | 7
31 Oct 2011  #3
Lol
It's not zebra
Ceber (phonetically: tzeber - kinda) is sort of a wooden bucket with 2 handles. Leje jak z cebra means that it's like somebody poured a bucket of water on you :-)
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
31 Oct 2011  #4
Leje jak z cebra means that it's like somebody poured a bucket of water on you :-)

Hi Thanks Cosmo, I get it down, cebra is a dopełniacz version of ceber like z kranu, z cebra etc. many thanks. it is funny how I got it so wrong, imagine if I had asked someone in real life about this they would possibly die from laughter!
Richfilth 6 | 415
31 Oct 2011  #5
It depends what sort of book. If it's a classic piece of fiction, such as Ferdydurke (from Polish to English) then one translator will do the whole job, and you will see little slip-ups were some things were translated literally. Specifically for that book, the translator refuses to translate the Polish word "pupa", for reasons most Polish high school students will sympathise with.

If it's a mass market book like the appalling Harry Potter farce, then a team of translators will do chunks at a time, while some controlling editor will compile (or oversee) a glossary of terms, to make sure the translation is consistent. Once done, the whole work will be proof-read for errors, but even then mistakes happen.

I can't comment too much on English to Polish translations; my other half does that side of things, but certainly idioms will be translated as long as they make sense to the content; there are some books where the idiom forms a joke, and then some "creative translation" has to take place...
Polish Translat - | 2
1 Nov 2011  #7
When we translate we always have reader in mind so we you phrases that are being used in given language not especially the same as in source language.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
1 Nov 2011  #8
Then kindly correct your sentence, PT
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
1 Nov 2011  #9
When we translate we always have reader in mind so we you phrases that are being used in given language not especially the same as in source language.

Thanks, that is good to hear.
onesuch - | 2
2 Nov 2011  #10
I think it very much depends on the quality of the translator.

I have started a publishing company with a focus on Polish (and other European books). Our first Polish book is The Comédienne (Komendiantka) by Wladyslav Reymont.

We updated and re-edited the text. We found outdated spelling, unused neologisms and clumsy idioms that we attribute to a translator who was not a native English speaker. We made changes like; (‘gaiety’ for ‘gaety’), (‘mechanic for mechanician’) and (‘discarded’ for ‘thrown into the discard’). There were over 300 such items in the book. This is a pity because it is such a great story and window into our Polish heritage.

What I did find interesting is the number of works by great Polish writers that have never been translated into English. There are French and German translations but I don't understand why they have never made it into English. Once we get established we would like to commission some translations to see if there is a market for them.
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
2 Nov 2011  #11
When a book is translated from English to Polish are there any problems reading the book?

I just finished teaching a course from the materials really badly translated into English by a Polish translator- it was horrid!!!!!!!!

I think it very much depends on the quality of the translator.

seems to be the case.
Richfilth 6 | 415
2 Nov 2011  #12
What I did find interesting is the number of works by great Polish writers that have never been translated into English. There are French and German translations but I don't understand why they have never made it into English. Once we get established we would like to commission some translations to see if there is a market for them.

I'd certainly be interested in that, even taking part in it. Considering the number of excellent writers Poland produced, the availability of translations is pathetic. I can't even get my hands on the works of Lem in English.
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
2 Nov 2011  #13
I can't even get my hands on the works of Lem in English.

just checked and some are available on Amazon:)
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
2 Nov 2011  #14
Specifically for that book, the translator refuses to translate the Polish word "pupa", for reasons most Polish high school students will sympathise with.

So what did he do with "pupa" then? Just left it as it is? I wouldn't call that a minor slip-up! I would call that a reason not to publish the translation.

If it's a mass market book like the appalling Harry Potter farce, then a team of translators will do chunks at a time,

AFAIK, one person did the whole HP translation into Polish - dunno about the quality.
Richfilth 6 | 415
2 Nov 2011  #15
Susan Sontag translated Ferdydurke, and she explains her reasons for not translating "pupa" in the foreword of her book. I'm not sure I agree with it though.

As for the HP stuff; the books were translated so quickly that I can't believe one person did it all. Even combining machine translation with proofreading would have been a massive task, so I'm sure other people were drafted, under the supervision of (for want of a better phrase) a Master Translator. If one person did it all, they have my infinite respect simply for reading all those books twice. I barely managed to get through the first one.
PWEI 3 | 612
2 Nov 2011  #16
Considering the number of excellent writers Poland produced, the availability of translations is pathetic.

Krajewski's stuff is being translated and released slowly but the translator manages to make three mistakes in just the info page and the title page!
Richfilth 6 | 415
2 Nov 2011  #17
I read the three Breslau books, and I know what you mean. There's things in there that you don't notice at first, but if you read them without your living-in-Poland glasses on, you see the language is a little weird in places.

But which of those books has that many mistakes?
PWEI 3 | 612
2 Nov 2011  #18
But which of those books has that many mistakes?

All of them have that 'Breslau, that same September 4, 3am' mistake repeated over and over and over and over again!
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
2 Nov 2011  #19
I just finished teaching a course from the materials really badly translated into English by a Polish translator- it was horrid!!!!!!!!

I am surprised that there is such bad translation. I wouldn't have expected books to have mistakes.

P.S. I shouldn't worry about translation errors so much anyway, I won't notice them, if I understand 25% of the book I will be doing well and I would be really happy with myself.

Are there any books coming out for Christmas that anyone could reccomend to a beginner, in Polish by Polish authors?
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,445
3 Nov 2011  #20
I am surprised that there is such bad translation. I wouldn't have expected books to have mistakes.

well, so am I. It was not a book, but a professional material and I believe that somebody got that translation job via connections - there is NO other explanation since the quality was very questionable.
polgen28 - | 4
11 Nov 2011  #21
It's best to have a native English translator to translate text into English and a native Pole to
translate it into Polish.
I'm a native Polish translator, educated in USA since I was 12 years old so
translations into English are not a problem for me but sometimes I need help
(from my Polish husband) to translate text from English into Polish.
I would not agree to translate an English book into Polish all by myself.
Lyzko
11 Nov 2011  #22
Amen to that!
pantsless 1 | 267
11 Nov 2011  #23
ative English translator to translate text into English

How many native English speakers do you know that can translate from Polish? Or even those that know enough about writing to provide decent copy editing/proofreading?

How many native English translators, who have translated at a somewhat professional level, do you know that can translate from Polish?
How many native English translators do you know (with credentials or who are a sworn translator) thaat can translate from Polish?

The list for all 3 categories is minuscule.
Lyzko
11 Nov 2011  #24
I for one can translate only INTO English (or German!) from Polish, but NOT reverse, as I'm neither a native nor a bilingual Polish native speaker!
pantsless 1 | 267
11 Nov 2011  #25
How do you know Polish well enough to translate from it? Would using a machine translator (google) and then proofreading the text be an accurate representation?

As I'm wondering how you unscramble some of the gibberish written in Polish that even most Polish speakers wouldnt completely understand.
Lyzko
11 Nov 2011  #26
I don't pretend to know how to translate high literature or such, but I'm referring to business correspondence and the like-:)
Having read so much "gibberish" being passed off as English in Polish texts translated by Poles who allegedly know English, I'd say my translations into English as an educated native speaker are infinitely superior, idiomatically, in almost every way.
Lorenc 4 | 28
16 Nov 2011  #27
I'll add a curiosity on the word ceber: it is the oldest recorded Polish word. It is recorded in the form czebri in a text from 1118. cz then changed to c.

Sources: Aleksander Brückner, Słownik etymologiczny języka polskiego
Stanisław Westfal, The Polish Language
Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Nov 2011  #28
I can't even get my hands on the works of Lem in English.

There is one version of Solaris published in English, translated by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox 1970 which was not a translation of the Polish original but instead was translated from the French translation by Jean-Michel Jasiensko 1966. Apparently Stanislaw Lem was fluent in English and hated the Kilmartin and Cox translation believing it departed too significantly from his original Polish. How could it not be since it was a translation of a translation? He, however had originally sold all rights to the book and the Polish publisher who was responsible for granting translation rights apparently did not care that the Kilmartin and Cox version was poor. It sold well, and that is all they worried about.

Fortunately, while the Kilmartin and Cox version is still the only available print version, Audible.com earlier this year released an audio book version. Aware of the translation problems, and because it is in a non-print format they were able to negotiate rights to translate with the estate of Lem, bypassing the print publishers, and commissioned a new English translation which was done by Bill Johnston directly from Lem's original text. This new translation is widely regarded as superb and does an excellent job of bringing to life the story much as Lem intended. So while it is in audio download form rather than print, it is the recommended way to enjoy Solaris in English.


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