Posts Tagged ‘translation’

Lost in Translation

Sunday, 9 February 2020

I recently started reading Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint, a translation of Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt[e] by Franz Brentano. My copy happens to be of the 1973 Humanities Press edition.

In the translation of the 1874 foreword, I hit a sentence

I was prompted to undertake a rather detailed study of these opinions because at the present time they enjoy an undue popularity and exert a lamentable influence upon a public which, in matters of psychology even less than in other fields, has not yet learned to demand scientific cogency.

This sentence is a muddle, with restrictions and negations working to say something contrary to what Brentano must surely have intended. A scan of the original is available on-line, the German reads

Und was mich dazu trieb, auch auf sie weitläufiger einzugehen, waren nur eine ungebührliche Verbreitung und ein beklagenswerther Einfluss, welche sie gegenwärtig auf ein Publicum gewonnen haben, das in sachen der Psychologie weniger noch als anderwärts auf wissenschaftliche Strenge Anspruch zu machen gelernt hat.

That refers to

a public, who in matters of psychology less still than elsewhere have learned to make a demand for scientific rigor

So the muddle is not in the original, but is an artefact of translation that doesn't strive to be as close to the original as possible while conforming to the conventions of the target language.

I checked a scan of the 1995 second edition of the translation, and found the same muddle as in the 1973 edition.

Naturally, I'm wondering to what extent I can reasonably trust the remainder of the translation. I reälize that passages recognized as crucial will probably have been treated with greater care and received more scrutiny, but there may be passages the importance of which has not been recognized. And even passages whose importance were recognized might be poorly translated. (I certainly saw such cases in translations of the work of Aristoteles.)

And Austrians and Swiss Must Fend for Themselves

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

On the title page of a translation of one of my father's books, I read

Aus dem Amerikanischen
Mind you that no elevators, automobiles, or bums appear in the book, and discussion probably doesn't get to a thousand million of anything. Perhaps a motion is tabled.

Llong chan Choegddynion

Friday, 31 October 2008

The Swansea Council has apparently failed to learn from the mistakes of others:

E-mail error ends up on road sign from the BBC
Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.

Conquer English to Make China Stronger!

Friday, 11 July 2008
Sari draws her readers' attention to