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Subject/agent splitting and personification in translation

One special case of the old rule to never use the passive voice is what I call “subject/agent splitting.” German loves not just passive clauses without agents, but also scattering the subject all over a sentence. It’s a bad writing habit few are aware of and occurs in many other language pairs, not just DE>EN. … Continue reading Subject/agent splitting and personification in translation

Moral dilemma of translating bureaucratic euphemisms

If you ever had to deal with the German welfare system, you’ve probably heard the term “Bedarfsgemeinschaft” (BG). Wikipedia says the construct dates back to the 2005 Hartz IV reforms and refers to people with special personal or family relationships who live in the same household. It basically means (and I’m not a lawyer) if … Continue reading Moral dilemma of translating bureaucratic euphemisms

Politeness – lose it in translation

Your multilingual ad copy sounds it swallowed a walking stick? By far the most common translation mistake is not losing things in translation but keeping them. Here are two stylistic devices that don’t work the same across languages. Talk to readers directly German and French organization still tend to speak of themselves and of their … Continue reading Politeness – lose it in translation

Notary translator for property purchase contracts

Oh, so you’re buying in Friedrichshain? Well, before you can “be Berlin,” the German bureaucracy has some more of that welcome culture for you. One of our cherished traditions is having a notary read out the purchase contract to the buyer and the seller (or their real estate agent) in German. It might not make … Continue reading Notary translator for property purchase contracts

New EU regulation on official document translations from Feb 2019

EU Regulation 2016/1191 will take effect on 19 February 2019. The EU passed a regulation to simplify the circulation of certain public documents between EU member states in 2016. It will take effect on 16 February 2019. This regulation aims to reduce administrative overhead and promote free movement for EU citizens. It requires authorities of … Continue reading New EU regulation on official document translations from Feb 2019

German to English translation remedies

As in all writing, shorter is better, even in translation. Many will not believe all the gunk you can clear out of the average German source text. The red thread in all these tips is: write it shorter! I. Translate nominal to verbal style German often uses nominalization to save space. Official English language also … Continue reading German to English translation remedies

Collocations – more frequent, more natural

Translation scholar Peter Newmark (A Textbook of Translation, p. 45) equates naturalness with frequency. Sounds basic, but often ignored. If an expression is not frequently used in target language (excluding translated material!), it will sound unnatural. The great thing about frequency is that you can measure it, unlike naturalness. This is great when you’re translating … Continue reading Collocations – more frequent, more natural