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Old 07-20-2009, 10:40 AM   #1
Michael Rowley
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Default Typographic competence for translators

In another thread i asked about 'typographic orthography', which I took to mean the same as 'orthotypography' or 'typographic syntax'. Bokor in America and Schöpp in Finland have published papers (the URLs are given in the other thread) emphasizing the importance of some knowedge of the typographic conventions of their target languages—the languages into which they translate.Schöpp has said in one of his papers:

Therefore translation studies should contain a module giving the students (and future translators) something like what I would call a typographic competence (see Schopp 1996: 193-195), which consists of basic typographic knowledge and skills. This competence would enable translators to avoid visual translation problems, to “overwrite” a layout-formatted file but at the same time take into account the typographic conventions of the target culture.

What do you think the syllabus of teaching in 'typographic competence should include?

   
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:02 AM   #2
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For translators? It would be nice for them to at least be aware of serif and sans serif but in most cases they will use the same font usage that was used in the source language, unless that font does not support the alphabet they use. I don't think most translators are interested in doing their own layout adjustments because it's really a whole different skill set, although I'm sure they do it in a lot of cases where the budget is tight.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:01 AM   #3
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they will use the same font usage that was used in the source language
Yes, but that's the point; they often do, disregarding the undoubted fact that say, French, has quite considerable differences from English typographical usage. How much should they know about that? And how much should they be taught? That was really my question.

PS: A sans serif font may be required in French (or German), but would be fairly unusual in English.

   
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:01 AM   #4
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This question might best be answered by translators but in my opinion I think it would be pretty low in the priority list:

Expertise in field(s) of study (may be lower priority, depending on level)
Expertise in translation, terminology, language structure, grammar, etc
Knowledge in usage of MS Office
Knowledge in usage of CAT tools (Trados, etc)
Knowledge in layout conventions, design
knowledge in layout software (FrameMaker, InDesign, Illustrator, etc)

I'd like to see these papers and other work by these publishers to see if there are any consolidated formatting conventions for various languages that you could even teach from.

I work almost entirely with Trados and layout applications so my perspective might be different than others. It's likely that there is a large population of translators who don't work with CAT tools and just overwrite text in Word docs or go from PDF to Word. For them, layout and design should be a higher priority since nobody else will be doing it before it gets submitted and possibly printed.

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Old 08-11-2009, 11:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Michael Rowley View Post
In another thread i asked about 'typographic orthography', which I took to mean the same as 'orthotypography' or 'typographic syntax'. Bokor in America and Schöpp in Finland have published papers (the URLs are given in the other thread) emphasizing the importance of some knowedge of the typographic conventions of their target languages—the languages into which they translate.Schöpp has said in one of his papers:

Therefore translation studies should contain a module giving the students (and future translators) something like what I would call a typographic competence (see Schopp 1996: 193-195), which consists of basic typographic knowledge and skills. This competence would enable translators to avoid visual translation problems, to “overwrite” a layout-formatted file but at the same time take into account the typographic conventions of the target culture.

What do you think the syllabus of teaching in 'typographic competence should include?
After reading your other thread it seems clear to me that typography and orthography are very different. The translator, or at least the editor or proofer, should be reasonably well-educated in the usage of their alphabet, punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization—the orthography—just as a high-school-level American student would be expected to do the same in class or any professional in their profession. He/she should be a master at their own language. This is separate from layout because it's at the character or word level rather than page level. Typography, being the arrangement of the text and layout of the document, takes some, but much less, design sense of the native population of that language, depending on the language (Arabic comes to mind).
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rowley View Post
Yes, but that's the point; they often do, disregarding the undoubted fact that say, French, has quite considerable differences from English typographical usage. How much should they know about that? And how much should they be taught? That was really my question.
Are translators expected to set type and lay out pages? If so, they are being taken advantage of.

These are also specialized trades (and areas of expertise), although the translator would be responsible for using the correct spelling, including special characters.

   
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:33 PM   #7
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It's likely that there is a large population of translators who don't work with CAT tools and just overwrite text in Word docs or go from PDF to Word.
CAT tools were no use to me when I was still translating for a living, because I seldom got texts to translate that were like a preceding text, and there are plenty that are in the same boat.

Some languages have semi-official standards of typography, which is some help if you know that publishers and printers stick to them. Most translators have only one target language, so it's not too difficult to learn the basics of 'orthotypography'—if you can find someone to teach them.

   
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:42 PM   #8
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KT:
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Are translators expected to set type and lay out pages?
Many translations are not formally 'set' by anyone; the author's (i.e. the translator's) text is printed 'as is', except for the layout, which is generally the same as for the source text. So spelling, punctuation, and the typographic conventions of the target language have to correct—and often they are not.

   
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Old 08-11-2009, 04:46 PM   #9
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Typography, being the arrangement of the text and layout of the document
it includes those, but typography involves other things. And don't forget that English has to suit people whose typographic conventions may vary considerably.

   
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Old 08-12-2009, 03:25 PM   #10
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CAT tools were no use to me when I was still translating for a living, because I seldom got texts to translate that were like a preceding text, and there are plenty that are in the same boat.

Some languages have semi-official standards of typography, which is some help if you know that publishers and printers stick to them. Most translators have only one target language, so it's not too difficult to learn the basics of 'orthotypography'—if you can find someone to teach them.
True, I think it's useful to separate the groups of translators—one that does not use CAT tools and translates in MS Office, the documents are likely somewhat simply formatted and and could be touched up by the translator with relatively little effort—and the other group that translates complex documents, often tagged text extracted from FrameMaker or InDesign, using CAT tools. The types of documents that the second group would translate would be for a different type of client, probably a language service provider (agency), and the final documents would be adjusted by desktop publishers with knowledge of the conventions of many languages and followed by at least one round of quality assurance by a qualified native speaker. Translators in group one should focus on orthotypography as well as basic typography and layout while group two should focus on orthotypography and CAT tools.
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