El Canny Collar – dog training in Spanish

El canny collar is an invention by Brian Smith for training and managing difficult dogs. These videos translated and recorded by Braulio Ramos explain the benefits of the canny collar and how to use it. These videos are also posted on YouTube.   El inventor Brian Smith y su historia...

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Luis Alberto First Interview at Liverpool – Spanish

Luis Alberto First interview at Liverpool in Spanish. Braulio asks the questions from a document provided in English. Luis Alberto currently on Loan to Malaga C F (2014-2015 season)

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Mistranslations may be funny, but damage your reputation

At a recent seminar for an MA degree in translation at University of Salford, Manchester, I asked the students to explain how the following mistranslations would be interpreted by potential customers: In a Bangkok dry cleaners: Drop your trousers here for best results Outside a Hong Kong dress shop: Ladies have fits upstairs Although these caused great hilarity for the students, who immediately appreciated that the translations suffered from being more literal than grammatically correct, understanding how the target language of a translation is understood by native speakers requires nuance only gained from experience. So why do people treat translations so lightly, and what are the consequences? Clearly, when you don’t understand how your translation will be read by the target audience you don’t give the translation as much attention as you should. The consequences though are more serious than just causing amusement, as the quality of your products and services are called into question. The examples above are just small samples of translations found by people while on holiday. They contain most of the right elements, but they are certainly not right, rather like the famous television sketch says “all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order”. What impact would such sloppy translation have if included in your company brochures, documents, leaflets or manuals? To have your customers point out the problems with your translation such as spelling and grammatical errors will leave them with an impression of lacking professionalism. They may well think you are taking on tasks beyond your capabilities, thinking that they are behaving as Del Boys. The image on the left shows an English owned shop selling to Spanish natives, where the English is clear. However, for Spanish customers they get to read ‘Plug socket of the Hotel Furniture’ which is a mistranslation of the word outlet, compounded by grammatical errors. David Jason (Del Boy Trotter) would be proud of this, but if you don’t want to be seen as a Wide Boy, you should get a proper translation done. Good quality translation requires a comprehensive knowledge of the source language in general, but also of particular trade of professional nuances that alter general meanings. Having a nuanced understanding of the target language is by far the most important aspect of translation and is the area where a translation becomes a gaff. Translators who have a native understanding of the target...

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Spanish Title Deeds Are Legal Documents

Why do English people sign title deeds in Spanish without a proper translation? Stories about English people who buy property in Spain and later regretted it are a regular staple in Sunday newspapers, so why do we not learn from the mistakes of others? I ask myself this question often as even professional English people used to signing important legal documents in the UK act totally out of character in Spain. The signing of Title Deeds in Spain should surely warrant greater scrutiny when it’s in a foreign country and foreign language. It seems that the opportunity to try and avoid taxes by not registering the property properly is too enticing. Thinking they can get away with something they can not get away with in their own country reminds me of the little ditty “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”. What makes these people act in this way? In Spain a building has to have the proper permits before construction can take place. At the end of the construction it has to be inspected and passed before it can be connected to utility services such as electricity, gas, water and sewage. A certificate of occupation is then issued (fit for occupation), and without this it is illegal for the property to be inhabited. For some unknown reason some English people manage to persuade others to buy property, not properly registered, sometimes even accepting that the sellers do not have proof of ownership (being told this is normal in Spain), and in many cases signing documents in Spanish without having them first translated by someone independent of the seller. On occasions some vendor agents will sell their properties without them being properly registered in order to avoid taxes. Also some buy a plot of land and build on it without a permit, or take extra land that does not belong to them to build something bigger. Spain does have a land register called Catastro, and it has a record of ownership and Spanish notaries will usually do a search before final signing. I can tell many personal experiences of people coming to my office, but I will refer to one who did it correctly. I was involved from the beginning, we encountered potential problems when preparing the pre-purchase contract, and it had to be amended three times. In Spain these contracts are legally binding and detail...

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Translation Aid Software

Can Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Software and other tools replace the human translator?  The development within the translation industry of computer aided translation (CAT) software tools, is claimed by some as wonderful, while others with experience of it think otherwise. I belong to the latter group, those who see the limitations which should be of concern to the final user or customer! Translation aid software and CAT tools need a human to operate them. These products are database dependant whilst language is a living thing and is evolving all the time. A document translated today may be different from a similar document translated the previous year due to language changes and other relevant factors. For the translator these tools, therefore, present a number of challenges that can seriously affect the quality of the final translation, one of them is the fact that any mistakes introduced will be replicated by the database because machines do not  recognize mistakes and will keep on repeating the error or errors. This is a potentially serious problem, if it is not seen and corrected promptly, the resultant document could end up full of errors. Correcting a database can cause problems and errors can be introduced, if not done properly, which will affect the quality of the final translation. A further problem faced by the translator is that generally these software programs present material for translation in segments, a segment can be from one full stop to another, these segments vary in size and present a before and after context problem, this is serious and will probably affect the quality of the final translation and usually does with negative results. It is difficult, I would say impossible, to translate with accuracy without considering before and after context. Another factor to consider is; the software and computer do not recognize and are not able to deal with nuances and subtle changes that will affect the accuracy of the translation itself (please see the posting “Translations have consequences”). The final translation itself will resemble a series of statements without correlation to each other. The machine is no match for the human brain!!!  I have tried translation aid software myself, just in case, and found it defective in many areas, including the conversion back to the original format, when some unusual changes are introduced by the software. A major problem for the professional translator is that agencies and companies who use these software programs will...

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Translations have consequences

Translation work is as varied as business itself, as business relations and transactions transcend national boundaries and languages. An interesting example that shows the importance of experience and appreciation of context, specifics and nuance can be drawn out through some interpreting work I did way back in 2001. An engineering company based in the North West, producing pulp moulding machines for packaging were in negotiation with a Spanish company about packaging for eggs. When the Spanish clients came over to look at, and test-run the machine they had ordered, I was employed as an interpreter for their whole visit. Throughout the schmoozing period of meals and familiarisation tours, I interpreted all the conversations between the English hosts and Spanish guests. The interpretation work went fabulously right through to the demonstration of the equipment, when my translation skills came into their own. The contractual arrangements were in place before I was involved but included a bomshell of a mismatch in translation. You see, the Spanish clients produced a contract ordering egg boxes, yet the translated English contract read egg trays. The distinction between egg boxes and egg trays is clearly crucial and I was able to explain the mismatch and how it was down to the literal rather than contextual translation. Thankfully the mistake was resolved amicably and rectified such that the moulding machine produced boxes, but at great cost contractually. With some more thoughtful appreciation of the importance of specificity and context in translation, a great deal of money, time and effort could have been saved. This example may be from the world of fibre packaging and pulp moulding, but the importance of quality in translation and interpreting cannot be overstated. Understanding context requires experience and nuance that is often only possible to native speakers of the language – mother tongue translators really are worth their weight in Spanish...

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