As the UK faces EU elections some promised to end, Germany offers us the lesson of the Dolchstosslegende, a myth much used to paint defeat as the work of backstabbing traitors, rather than failed leaders. After First World War defeat in 1918, Germany’s militarists promoted the Dolchstosslegende, or Stab-In-The-Back Myth, contrafactually claiming that they could and would have won the war if weak-kneed pacifist politicians had not undermined them and stabbed them in the back, robbing the country of a great victory.
What is Energiewende and where does it come from?
English is getting a new word as energiewende creeps in and cleans up. No, not energy for a Wendy house, but the turning point and transition to renewable energy without the cost of nuclear. The most concise word for this today comes from German, where the national energy policy of Energiewende is leading the way towards… read more…
Imports are making English rich, and HE Translations are assembling an online treasure-trove explaining words that English has imported from German. Technology, sustainability, psychology and even food are fueling our appetite for new terms, and Germany is serving them up freely. Lost for words? Try some
new ones and go with the zeitgeist!
When you need a translation of a technical text or manual, what you really are looking for is a specialist expert in this field to do the job right. A serious translation ensures the accurate and usable rendering of descriptions and instructions into the target language, preventing time-consuming and expensive misunderstandings which could arise later. To achieve this an effective translator needs to understand not just the words on the page, but the technical processes and functioning of a technology or product.
Mastering this technical task calls for specialist understanding and experience, as well as an ability to be clear and unambiguous. And of course a well-written and clear original text is the best starting point, so here we offer a few tips from our long experience to get you going in the right direction. Just as you would not print blurred instructions just to save on ink, you wouldn’t want your meaning to be lost in translation.
The five Es for excellence in translation:
How social media partner Mike Gayler cycled into an Open University French degree
By Mike Gayler
I shared this story with an email contact recently and thought it might be interesting for readers of the HE Translations blog to know a little about my journey in language. It’s an unconventional tale, but I hope that you find it interesting, and, perhaps a little motivating if you’ve ‘failed’ in a skill at a younger age. At school I had a persistent French teacher. I was an enthusiastic but clueless language student, and I failed French ‘O’ levels in both 1971 and twice in 1972!
I started work for the National Health Service in the autumn of 1972 and the following summer I took my bicycle on the ferry and cycled through France for a fortnight. Being on my own, and staying in Youth Hostels it was very much a case of “speak French or starve”! I did survive, and the following year cycled round the coast of Brittany. From that point on I was aware that I could ‘get by in French’. And ‘get by’ I did – we took family holidays to France, and I took part in many cycle-tourist events in France and Belgium where my rudimentary language skills came in very handy.
German technical texts tend to be liberally littered with the abbreviation “ca.” to indicate that what follows should be read as an approximation. Usually our preference has been to render this Latin term for “about” or “around” as “approx.” when translating into English. This can, however, be awkward, as that may appear too long in tables and other contexts. Is there an alternative? If we seek an expert opinion, The New Oxford Style Manual has this to say on the matter:
“The Latin circa, meaning ‘about’, is used in English mainly with dates and quantities. Set the italicized abbreviation c. close up to any figures following (c.1020, c.£10,400), but spaced from words and letters (c. AD 44). In discursive prose it is usually preferable to use about or some when describing quantities”.
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