Thursday, 17 December 2009

Uplifting, devastating

Today I’ll let you take in a blend of praising, grumbling and dissomething.

I was delighted to read the report published on, in which Maciej Samsik, journalist of Wyborcza’s business column, x-rays commercials, mostly those of banks, shark loans, financial advisors and telecom operators. Such actions are essential in the education and in the civic society, cause people should be aware of the pitfalls of advertised “bargains” and all “catches” in the suspiciously beneficial contracts. I hold it dear and would love to see more such analyses.

The opposite feelings in me were evoked by the real estate guide by TVN Warszawa. Their report on residential area of Nowa Iwiczna is full of factual errors and misrepresentations. Many of the shots in the footage do not actually show Nowa Iwiczna, bus service 739 does not run through Nowa Iwiczna, its nearest stop is half a mile away from the boundary of the village and distance from the nearest public facilities are much higher than given in the video. And the language, both the voice of the lector and the very content of the report are stilted. Dabbling in translating has sensitised to me that ugly style of Polish – clumsy syntax, bombastic, but trite collocations and illogical sentences are asking for being polished up. I got worked up and posted a comment on journalists’ dependability and erudition.

Ludność wzrosła poprzez budowę nowych osiedli i chęć mieszkania na obrzeżach Warszawy.

This is the most appalling example. In English, a population can rise, but in Polish we use “liczba ludności” and in the context of a small village, it is better to use “liczba mieszkańców”. The corrected sentence will read: Liczba mieszkańców wzrosła na skutek budowy nowych osiedli i mody na mieszkanie na obrzeżach Warszawy.

The poorly written texts lie the core of translators’ ordeal. If the source writing is crappy, the target one is more likely to sound badly. Unless a translator cares and does the editing job. This sentence might also illustrate what many translators grapple with, when they are translating from Polish into English. Polish language gives its user a large dose of freedom when it comes to syntax, German has very strict rules, English lies in the middle, but somewhat closer to German. The fact that it has a correct syntax and lots of constructions is used stylistic devises is often omitted in the teaching process, just like another issue of “natural flow”. The basic problem of the sentence I’m taking into pieces is posed by illogical links. It sounds very dubiously that the rising population is the effect of the new development. Those building were put up because there had been the demand on houses or flats in NI.

A Pole could translate the original sentence without taking any pains to produce anything up-to-standard:

The population grew through the construction of new estates and the willingness to live in the suburbs of Warsaw.

It would be also possible to translate the sentence edited by the author of this blog:

The number of residents rose, as a result of the construction of new estates and the fashion for living in the suburbs of Warsaw.

This also sound poorly, “of” appears three times in one sentence and it surely lacks natural flow, not to mention the syntactic trap.

I came up with two, rather decent translations.

1) Newly built estates and the trend to settle down in the city outskirts have brought about a rise in the number of residents.

2) Springing up development and the suburb-living fad have led to a rise in the number of residents.

It took me around a quarter to get to grips with one sentence, still the biggest flaw is the link between newly built estates and the number of residents. Some elements of those two sentences may be combined to reach a better outcome. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this translation, I will welcome your advice. But fifteen minutes? I think I wouldn’t make a living on translation working in such sluggish pace.

And why the hell haven’t the mentioned clogged up Puławska and commuting nightmare that has become a part of living here?!

The Wednesday afternoon brought the news that Ben Bernanke, the governor of Fed had been awarded the prestigious Time’s Man of the Year title. He is credited with averting a total collapse of financial markets, but the prize reflects only on his past accomplishments and leaves out the ramifications of the current US central bank policy. Economy will sooner or later bear the brunt of excessively low interest rates and quantitative easing. Those who benefit from such policy are the government, which finances and will pay its debts cheaper and financial industry, which uses cheap money to speculate. The ordinary people will sooner or later damn him, like they did with Alan Greenspan (look at the amount of criticism towards him in his wikipedia biography note), if not for the next crisis, then for the inflation tax they will have to pay.


Island1 said...

1) Newly built estates and the trend to settle down in the city outskirts have brought about a rise in the number of residents.

1s very good. I would have said: "the trend towards settling in the outskirts of the city" but I couldn't possibly explain why.

2) Springing up development and the suburb-living fad have led to a rise in the number of residents.

is horrible :D Sorry. (Still a hundred times better than I could do in Polish of course.)

I often see constructions such as "Springing up development" and "suburb-living fad" in Polish translations. A grammarian could tell you what this is called; I can't, but I can tell you it doesn't work.

student SGH said...

1) Because you have a sense of natural flow and English is your native language

2) No need to sorry. I can learn from your critical comments so I'm oddly happy to read it is horrible ;)

Maybe I have picked them up from those PL->EN translations. They are used in English as stylistic devices and Poles may tend to overuse them. Actually I might have gone overboard with the second sentence.

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