The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 12 of 35 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 13 Allison Brown outlines some of the key challenges and strategies for translating history texts A mong the many specific challenges of translating history texts, especially given that I am not a professional historian, is that of understanding historical concepts and terminology, and rendering them appropriately in the vocabulary of the discourse familiar to English-speaking historians. Over more than 25 years of experience in translating history texts, I have built up extensive background knowledge and, just as importantly, honed my research skills in a wide range of historical fields. Part of both the challenge and its solution is the internet. Fast DSL and wi-fi have revolutionised my work, relegating my dictionaries and encyclopedias to gathering dust on the bookshelves. Not only do online dictionaries and translation forums offer definitions and translations of each word, but relevant English web pages provide background information and further reading. Invaluable, also, are primary and secondary sources with full-text search capability, which are available on the internet. This may have made my job easier, but expectations have grown along with the new capabilities. Prior to the internet, I was not expected to submit translations with footnotes, bibliography and main text all completely formatted, and it was not assumed that I would find all English- language citations or identify English- language bibliographic references to replace their German counterparts. I am currently translating Die Franken ('The Franks') by Bernhard Jussen. Published in German by C H Beck in its 'Wissen' series on scholarly topics for a general audience, it dispenses entirely with footnotes and a full bibliography. The English edition will be published by an American university press, so source information will be inserted. Translating the multitude of quoted passages of German translations of medieval (Latin) texts, and adding footnotes listing the German sources, would not be appropriate, as a translation of a translation should be avoided (even if I were to reference the original text in the footnote). Since I have no Latin skills to translate them myself, I must instead locate published English translations from the original Latin. Finding a source containing the specific passage of a cited text in English translation requires key internet research skills, plus a good dose of persistence and imagination to determine effectual search terms. For example, correspondence between kings and popes, or chronicles and annals cited in Die Franken in German translation were taken from the Latin Codex Carolinus, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) and other sources. I was able to cite English translations of the Latin from volumes in Harvard University Press's renowned Loeb Classical Library, as Re-writing HISTORY EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE: Some of the many books Allison has translated (above) While fact-checking is not the responsibility of the translator, it comes with immersing myself in the subject

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