Why I do not like translation

    When I just started reading books about programming, I read them in Russian, but, disappointed in the quality of the translation, I switched to the original language - English. Why? If it was only spelling mistakes ... I can put up with this. For me, the main problem is the distortion of the meaning of the original.

    Translators are taught that it is not necessary to translate word for word, it is enough to convey meaning. My wife, a student of a linguist-translator, informed me about this after I poured my soul on her about the quality of the translation. Apparently, the translators learned quite well that word for word need not be translated, but what needs to be conveyed also makes sense ...


    Example One: The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master - A pragmatic programmer. The path from apprentice to master

    I first read this book a little in electronic form in English, after which I decided to buy a paper copy (I was more pleased to read real books that I could hold in my hands) and bought a translation into Russian. Already in the 3rd section, “Soup made of stones and cooked frogs”, I felt something was amiss. But first, I’ll give the story of the soup itself, so that you know what it’s about, and then we will analyze a paragraph full of errors:

    Three soldiers were returning from the war and hungry. When they saw the village ahead, their mood rose - they were sure that the peasants would feed them. But as soon as they arrived in the village, all the doors were locked and the windows were closed. After a long war, the peasants were in poverty and hid everything that they have.

    This did not bother the soldiers, they boiled a cauldron of water and carefully put three stones in it. Surprised peasants went out to see.

    “This is stone soup,” the soldiers explained to the peasants. “And is that all you put into it?” - asked the peasants. “Absolutely everything - although it will taste much better if you put a little carrot in it.” One of the peasants ran away and quickly returned with a basket of carrots from his cellar.
    So they cooked a large cauldron of steaming soup. Then the soldiers took out the stones and sat down with the whole village to eat their fill - the first time in many months.

    And now for the fun part:

    You may find yourself in a situation where you know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. A general plan of the system appears before your eyes, and you realize that this is how it should be. But if you ask permission to study the aspect as a whole, then you will come across red tape and empty eyes. People will form commissions, the budget must be approved, and everything will be complicated. Everyone will hold on to his chair. This is sometimes called "initial fatigue." It's time to pull the stones out of the boiler . Work out what you can really ask for. Work out the details. Once you do this, show people and let them wonder. They will say : "Of course, it would be better if we added." PutThat is not important. Relax and wait until they start asking you about adding the functionality that you originally intended. It’s easier for people to join the coming success. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel and they will rally around you.

    And having felt this most unfortunate thing, I decided to look again at the original to make sure that either it was buggy or the translation, as often happens, was a success. So, the original called "Stone Soup and Boiled Frogs":

    You may be in a situation where you know exactly what needs doing and how to do it. The entire system just appears before your eyes - you know it's right. But ask permission to tackle the whole thing and you'll be met with delays and blank stares. People will form committees, budgets will need approval, and things will get complicated. Everyone will guard their own resources. Sometimes this is called "start-up fatigue." It's time to bring out the stones . Work out what you can reasonably ask for. Develop it well. Once you've got it, show people, and let them marvel. Then say "of course, it would be better if we added ...." Pretendit's not important. Sit back and wait for them to start asking you to add the functionality you originally wanted. People find it easier to join an ongoing success. Show them a glimpse of the future and you'll get them to rally around.

    So, in order:
    • It's time to bring out the stones - It's time to pull the stones out of the cauldron. The authors of the original mean that it is time to get the stones (for example, from the sinus) in order to put them in the cauldron and start cooking soup. But do not get them out of there. This can be understood by the fact that after this phrase there is a description of the actions that form a parallel with the actions of cooking the soup: work out, work out, show and so on.
    • Then say - They will say. Stumble! I am sure you yourself will understand this mistake.
    • Pretend - Put it. Firstly, not “put it down”, but “pretend”; and secondly, do not “pretend”, but “pretend” (yes, yes, it is you!)
    • Show them a glimpse of the future - Show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Umm ... The first thought that gets into my head is that the light at the end of the tunnel is seen before death. Kindly tell me, if I showed you the light at the end of the tunnel, would you rally around me or would you rather try to quickly send me to the next world? One of my options for translating this phrase is "show them a glimpse of the future." But the translator, unfortunately, has a glimpse into the future associated with the light at the end of the tunnel. Gloomy translator, gloomy. Although I myself with such translation skills would also not really enjoy life.

    Dear readers, we have made out just one paragraph! To manage to make so many semantic mistakes in one paragraph! ..

    Thanks to the translator for at least not thinking of renaming the section in “ Porridge from the Ax ” at all and not replacing the original text with the contents of this fairy tale.

    Maybe the author of the translation does, like my former colleague, who watches films during programming, placing a small window on the player in the lower right corner? Maybe this is what distracts him from thinking about the text and understanding its meaning? If you are lucky enough to meet this translator, who, by the way, is called A. Aleksashin, do me a favor, ask him about it - I will be glad to know about the veracity of my assumption.

    Having found so many mistakes at the very beginning of the book, I completely lost confidence in its continuation. I thought that the translator could be very misleading, so it all ended up throwing the translation away and ordering the original from Amazon. (Or maybe he threw it in vain, because during the crisis it would be possible to save on toilet paper ...)

    How qualitatively it looks in the original! The book, by the way, is a classic one of those that should be read by any self-respecting programmer. It is only a pity that the book reached the masses in such a terrible form.


    Example Two: Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship - To leave or stay?

    Such a wonderful book, the author of which is trying to help you get out of the uncertainty of your relationship - a state where you constantly revolve around the question: leave or stay? She gives a description of the problem, asks you a question on this problem, gives real life examples of people who have come across this problem, who turned to her for help, and, depending on your answer to the question, she says: “Based on what I showed the experience of most people in your situation, your relationship is too good to leave"Or" As the experience of most people who faced a similar problem showed, they were happy that they left, and therefore I can say that your relationship is too bad to stay in them . "

    There are 36 such questions, each of which is like a sieve: you go through each until you get stuck in at least one. If you have successfully answered the question, and your relationship is too good to leave, you proceed to the next question; otherwise, the book can not be read further - well, if only out of curiosity or desire to understand what should be in your relationship and what shouldn’t.

    I read the book in the original, but when I told about it to one person who cannot read English, at his request I found a translation for him; that is, I did not read the translation itself. But it was enough for me to read only one name: "To leave or to stay?"

    What is wrong with this title? And the fact that the whole point of this book is that your relationship is either too good to leave , or too bad to stay in - the whole book is saturated with these phrases. So the title of this book was to be translated: “Too good to leave; too bad to stay. ” I think the author of the original would be smart enough to name this book “Leave or Stay?” If it really reflected its essence. Indeed, in the name of the original lies the wholemeaning ! You can’t just take and take away from the book its main feature with such an irresponsible translation!


    Example Three: Employee of the Month - A Date of My Dreams

    A good film about hypermarket employees, where competitions for the best employee of the month are held every month ; that is exactly what the translation of the name should sound: “Employee of the month”, well, either “Employee of the month”, or “Worker of the month”.

    But please, explain to me, dear readers, what logic could translate what should sound like “Employee of the month” into “Date of my dream”! Brilliant translation! I understand that you do not need to translate word for word, but ... there are simply no words ...



    I could give many more examples of such genius of translators, but, I think, this will be enough. Judge for yourself how well our translators cope with their duties. But I made my choice: if possible, I read the original. It is the original, and not just in English; recently read “Masters and Margarita” and read in Russian, in the original.

    So far, only two languages ​​are available to me: Russian and English; therefore, if I want to read some of the works in other languages, first of all I will try to find a translation into English, and only if the search fails I decide to read the translation into Russian - if I can’t adequately translate from English, what will happen For example, with Chinese or Japanese.

    I am not saying that all translations are bad. There are good translations, and even excellent ones. But I prefer to start right away with the original than spend time figuring out the quality of the translation and extra money on something that could soon be thrown away.

    PS If you, dear readers, have a desire to find out how I mastered reading in English, I could write a separate post about it. Please express your desire in the comments.

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