Dr Bittner Business English

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Presenting you the most interesting translation solutions


Why Like-Blog? Now, first of all, this blog is a blog that you should like (and read regularly) – at least, if you are interested in translation. Then, the topic discussed here is one in which the meaningful likeness between a text and its translation in the language pair English-German plays a key role. On this page, I will take a close look at some interesting translation solutions that I have come across in the course of my work as a translator and translation scholar.

A translation solution is only as good as the arguments that support it. This means that any translation criticism, whether positive or negative, needs to be justified. The quality of a translation solution shows only when we compare it to other possible translation solutions in a given translation situation. Therefore, a translation critic should not only say why a translation solution is bad, but also demonstrate what a better solution might look like. I will try to stick to these principles of translation criticism. So if you have any questions regarding my line of argument or if you disagree, please, let me know your opinion by phone at +49 4171 6086525 or by e-mail to bittner@businessenglish-hamburg.de. So much for the introduction. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this blog!

Implicit assumption (September 2022)

For the last time, I am quoting from “Hell’s bells! The joy of Morris Dancing” (The Independent, 21 September 2009) by Jonathan Brown: “Tasker believes there are three areas in which morris can become more relevant.”

The sentence is actually quite straightforward. It was translated as follows: “Tasker glaubt, es gäbe drei Bereiche, durch die sich der Morris modernisieren könnte.” Please, take a moment to think about what might be problematic about this translation.

Perhaps, you will first notice that “become more relevant” was strangely rendered using the verb “modernisieren” and that the preposition “durch” for English “in” seems to be equally out of place. In both cases, however, the translation solution is perfect in the context in which it occurs.

The problem is a different one: the so-called Konjunktiv (for which English typically uses a conditional tense) suggests that Tasker is wrong about the three areas in which morris can become more relevant. The source text does not convey this impression, though.

Thus, a more appropriate rendering is: “Tasker glaubt, dass es drei Bereiche gibt, durch die sich der Morris modernisieren könnte.”