Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

About translation in general and of specific fragments
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Pax
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Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Pax »

This thread is in continuation of the video recently posted by Ott: Ott and Stafford 4

I shared the criticism mentioned in the video. My overall argument is this: it is a mistake to include archaic and dialectal idioms and uncommon sentence structures in the English translation of the Oera Linda book in order to make the language more “beautiful” or closer to Fryas. The target demographic of the English translation is the international audience, not just anglophones. By including words and phrases like hark, blush of dawn, brood, tale of woe — these are just random examples of an overall trend — the translation becomes less understandable to foreigner speakers of English. Currently, in order to understand every sentence in the translation, one needs C1 or C2 proficiency on the CEFR scale. Even then, I, a non-native speaker of English with certified C2 proficiency, still encounter sentences where I would need a dictionary.

It was said in the video that because the book is old, then modern, easy-to-understand English would be inappropriate in the translation, and that instead, a style of English that somewhat imitates 1600's English as found in the King James Bible is more appropriate, especially in parts that are poetic. Assuming I understood this argument correctly, I disagree with it. It is perfectly possible to write beautifully using modern language. Moreover, there are translations of the Bible which are written in more modern language because the word of God, in the Christian sense, should be easy to understand so that it reaches one's heart immediately. In my own experience, those translations are actually much more enjoyable to read because it no longer feels like I am deciphering the text, but instead taking it all in like I would when reading any other book published in the last 50-100 years. Even the King James Bible has a version, called the New King James Bible, where the only change was to update the archaic language to modern English while still remaining faithful to the original intent behind every sentence.

Translating the Oera Linda book to a style of English that is easy to understand for people with, for example, B1 or B2 proficiency, should not be seen as dumbing down the language, but rather as meeting (what I presume to be) the goal of the translation: to make the book understood by an international audience. So, my suggestion is to stop tailoring the translation to anglophones and changing sentences to resemble their Fryas counterpart word-for-word. Instead, the language should be changed so it uses normal-sounding sentences that convey the original intent, written in a way that can be understood by people with B1 or B2 proficiency, which are realistic targets for most non-natives to reach.
Last edited by Pax on 18 Jun 2023, 11:06, edited 2 times in total.
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ott
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by ott »

Thank you for the more detailed explanation, which helps me understand your position better. I look forward to read what others think about this, both native English speakers and Scandinavians, Germans, Dutch, etc.
Escapeyourcage
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Escapeyourcage »

Thanks for the response. And, most importantly, thanks for sharing it via the forum!
As a general reply, I think that the audience is sophisticated enough to use the many resources at their disposal to understand the text as translated. Mirroring the style of a source text is an important aspect of translation, and anything else would detract from the work. Granted, an easy language version might be useful, for instance, when the target audience is children.
As for "brood", "tale of woe" etc.: Those are perfectly useful and common idioms. After all, it is a translation into English, no matter who the audience may be!
Using the argument presented, one could protest that the Standskrift font is unusable because people will not be able to read it without effort - a bogus argument.
I'm the first to admit that there is still editorial work to be done (the first time around, we were up against a tight deadline and had to discuss many things at length). But, I am also aware that my editorial skills are of the highest calibre, and I am proud to say that there are sections of the original Fryas that I was the first to correctly translate. The assertion that using proper English vocabulary and syntax makes for an "awkward" result, I reject.

Therefore, I will continue into the next phase with the same aims (aesthetic and otherwise), trusting that the efforts will be appreciated by many, if not by all, who wish to immerse themselves in the language of Codex Oera Linda.
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Pax
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Pax »

Since no-one else has replied, I will address your points.
As a general reply, I think that the audience is sophisticated enough to use the many resources at their disposal to understand the text as translated.
In other words, you expect non-native speakers of English to need an English dictionary in order to understand the translation; so they have to translate your translation?
Granted, an easy language version might be useful, for instance, when the target audience is children.
I think it is wrong to compare the needs of foreign speakers of English to the needs of anglophone children; those are two different groups. (Granted, anglophone children could also benefit, but that is beside the point.)
As for "brood", "tale of woe" etc.: Those are perfectly useful and common idioms. After all, it is a translation into English, no matter who the audience may be!
What are, in your words, perfectly useful and common idioms are not perfectly useful and common idioms to foreign speakers. Thus, it is a translation into native-level English, not simply “English.”
Using the argument presented, one could protest that the Standskrift font is unusable because people will not be able to read it without effort - a bogus argument.
What a strange twist of logic. Reading a transliteration is not the same as reading a translation; those are two different things. People worldwide are not learning to read Standskrift letters; they are learning to read English.
But, I am also aware that my editorial skills are of the highest calibre,
You ought to let others judge that rather than be your own judge.

I appreciate your work in translating parts that previously were translated incorrectly and discovering new etymologies; but you should reconsider your efforts in slowly making the English translation less understandable to foreign speakers of English.
Last edited by Pax on 19 Jun 2023, 06:56, edited 2 times in total.
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Helgiteut
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Helgiteut »

Maybe it is better to have an English translation for native English speakers, and then as time goes by, for more languages to have their own translations also to a native level. In an age of the internet, finding the meaning of archaic English terms isn't that hard for most, even if it does break-up the flow of reading. But maybe you could suggest an edition that is based on simplified English, for non-native speakers.
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Wil Helm
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Wil Helm »

Imo, it is an enhancement to translate it with 'Tale' instead of 'Speech'.
We must not forget that a lot af interesting, and value for the ones who can appreciate it, of the OLB tale lies not only in the historical narrative but also in language (and hints to possible origin).

Maybe i would have translated into "Tell and answer" or "Talk and answer" (cfr our nowadays 'Question and answer' topics)
But "Tale and Answer" I see as even. Certainly better than Speech and Answer, which says even less in English.
It was not that much about proclaiming a speech. It was about telling a sad story, giving account of events, just talking about it by which it got known. A tale in it's original sense.

En plus:
If the translater didn't do this change, the readers would be missing these etymological links the OLB brings to ponder on.
So a very interesting part of what OLB has to offer.
If you look it this way, it is idd the opposite of belittlement but gives its full spectrum what is to discover.
And that will always be more difficult for English and certainly non-native readers.
So the remark about children's books i can give a place.

Why do the modern day English speakers don't use the word Tale for Language (lallen-gewijs)?
We use 'taal', so why don't they? ;-)
For sure they know the word, only to use for "telling a tale" when they talk, but not for the taal used? (language, tongue (tong), speech (spiek=spit when talking)). And the tongue is a lel! And so is a dick if you translate tael with speech :-)

But at this side of the ocean we derived also, we didn't perserve the usage of the word Tale in 'verhaal'.
We left out the 't'! 'Vertel uw verhaal' we say to encourage someone to speak.
Escapeyourcage
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Escapeyourcage »

My personal goal for this translation has been stated clearly: “to make the source language accessible so that it can be read directly”. The language used is proper English. The syntax and word choice are designed to form a linguistic bridge from English to Fryas, as well as being pleasurable to read. The fact that some readers will need a dictionary is acceptable to me.
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Pax
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Pax »

To Wil Helm, I understand your points about tale vs. speech. I realised since then that I was too quick in my original reasoning. I think your suggestion of “talk and answers” sounds more natural. Sounding natural is by far the most important quality, in my opinion, rather than always trying to match up words with their cognates. “Tale” was simply one example that stuck out to me.

To Helgiteut, in an ideal world, all of the Germanic languages would at minimum have their own translations, and I imagine that will be realised over time. I think, for English in particular, it would be helpful to have a version with more simplified vocabulary, since English is currently the dominant language in international communication. I should note that even though I was bothered by Stafford's remark about it being useful for children, I do agree that it would be useful for children as well, but that would apply to any language, not just English.
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by ott »

An easier to understand translation of Oera Linda would be welcome ineed. I would be most willing to help (as much as I can) create it and have it published. Also, even in the most current version there are still parts I wish improved.

Several promising projects related to OL are waiting to be finished, others to be started. Some wonderful volunteers are helping. Yet, I am approaching dangerous levels of exhaustion. Family obligations are taking up ever more of my time and energy.

Frustration about the earlier translations has been one of my personal motivators. May some of you feel inspired to contribute to further popularizing the texts and inspiring new research, in any way.
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Nordic
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Re: Why archaic and dialectal English is bad in an international translation

Post by Nordic »

What Coco suggests is ideal, but I nonetheless suggest the English language version to be in proper English. Old fashioned words are perfectly fine if the translator wants them to be still around in future (language survival) or if they have close relative in OL Frisian language (language relations teaching).

Our reserach has sometimes earlier went astray by having at first noticed seemingly similar language usage to OL from English language translations of Norse sagas, only to find later the Norse originals have nothing even remotely similar (the English translations by academics were apparently too poetic). Thus we often go for the literal or literal-ish translations, which often bears the additional benefit of showing how closely related the various Germanic languages really are.
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