Today, I decided to compile some of the abbreviations that I've learned over time into a single document, because sometimes I forget them and have to figure them out all over again, which wastes time. As I was typing up the document, I realized that this was a resource that might be useful to other translators working with this company. Maybe they are obvious to the rest of you, but they were the bane of my existence when I first joined Gengo! Most of my exposure to the language pre-Gengo was in the classroom, and they didn't cover chatspeak. :)
Just in case someone else might find it useful, I've made it into a kind of community database on Google docs. It's short right now, because it's just what I thought of off the top of my head, but I'll add to it as I think of/encounter new ones. Hopefully this will save someone some time!
Right now, the document is open to anyone who has the link to edit, so feel free to add or correct as you see fit. If it becomes a problem, I can make it invitation-only, but I'm sure that won't happen!
Here's the link:
Hopefully someone will find this helpful!
This is awesome, Misty Mikes! Thanks!! I'm going to feature it in this month's newsletter :)
Hahaha, I guess I should pretty it up then! :)
As a member of the pool of translators and French native-speaker with a French key-board, I have added the accents and I hope you will not be offended by the corrections I have just made.
No, by all means! :) My native language is English, so I'm glad for the corrections! I'm mostly figuring these out through context, logic, Google searches, and a dash of assumption. I was really hoping someone like you might find the time to look at it and correct anything that was incorrect. Thanks so much!
Thanks for this great resource, Misty Mikes! I've added a few I've come across and hope to add more as I see them. These can be the hardest to figure out, especially when dealing with only limited context
Hi mistymikes - Derbies CP ... reckon this could be Claudie Pierlot brand name.
@travcurrit: Thanks for adding. I'm thrilled that other people are finding this a good resource!
@accystanley: That makes sense!
I wonder if there is some simple way that those of us who work on this client can communicate to help us improve consistency and discuss issues. For instance, do you guys write out the full brand name if it's with initials in the French? Obviously, it would have to be a closed forum or list.
@miriam - I second that idea. A central terms list could be kept in a Google Doc/spreadsheet, although a forum might better handle back and forth discussion - perhaps both?
As for abbreviations of brand names, I usually write them out - i.e. CDC => Comptoir des Cotonniers, LV => Louis Vuitton, etc, assuming that many of them are better known to the French speaking public than to English speakers.
Excellent idea, Miriam. Regarding abbreviations of brand names, I must admit I am not always 100% consistent on this. On the one hand I reckon that if a potential buyer is looking for a specific item in the fashion sector then she will be familiar with abbreviations such as CDC, LV, or Z&V etc. Also, if a potential seller is paying for the advert by the word then by using the shorthand form she will be saving money instead of spelling out the full name. We can show how clever we are that we know the brand-name and spell it out, but could this be costing the advertiser in cost-per-word? On the other hand, and taking travcurrit's point, a lazy advertiser is not going to sell the goods to a buyer who may not know all the French brands and their abbreviated forms. I hope someone will be good enough to convince me to do one thing or the other.
I've been using whatever format the original writer used for abbreviations, punctuation, capitalization, and other formatting issues. The exception is when the text has a lot of typos, etc, or particularly strange formatting that makes it very difficult to read. I try to clean up in those instances.
One thing that might help in making decisions like this would be to know the "life of a VC translation" so to speak. If I knew where the original text came from (in a general sense, at least), how it was submitted to Gengo, and where it goes (and who is goes to!) after translation, that would be super helpful! After all, if these are being posted directly back to the English-version site without editing, we'll want to be more consistent. However, if it's just an "informational" tool for he company's employees, consistency is less important than accuracy. (Or so I should think.)
I haven't had good luck getting much response from VC or Gengo about questions of consistency, so I eventually decided that they probably don't care that much either way. For now, I just assume that the original writer knew what they wanted, and go with whatever format they used.
My impression is that the text is inserted directly on the VC site by users and sent automatically to Gengo. I also think it is automatically posted to their site. When the system is clogged, so to speak, if you go to their site, the items "posted today" are untranslated. I doubt that the ad-placer is charged by word. I would assume that VC is either taking a percentage or charging per entry.
I do not follow the format of the original, as I think in the context and with the goal (selling stuff), the clearer and more readable the English, the better. Plus, English has different capitalization and punctuation rules. I tend to separate the text into small phrases with periods, "Very good condition. Never worn." But, needless to say, we're all making our own rules until they expand their guidelines. I don't think consistency is wildly important in this context, as each little description is, in a sense, a self-standing work by different, um, authors.
However, it would be nice to be able to discuss these issues and ask each other for help when in doubt, preferably in a non-public forum. It would be an excellent new feature.
Yeah, I do use English rules for punctuation and make sure it's readable. But for example, if it's a list of items and the list does not use end punctuation, I make a list of items without end punctuation, and so on.
Usually, I try to make it as "clean" as possible, but if one word is all caps, I make that word all caps in the translation. If the original is in all caps, I put it in all caps. Personally, I think the all caps thing is not very readable, but I figure if the seller wants it in all caps, it's not really up to me to decide otherwise.
I do that too with ALL CAPS and exclamation points!!!!!!!!
Something I wanted to mention was in follow-up to Lisa's Sept 5 note which said
Hi French to English translators,
I'm writing with a quick note to you about jobs for VC in your language pair. We've been conducting spot checks and speaking with the customer, and found that several translators on this project aren't adhering to instructions in the Style Guide. This is linked in the comment of every order.
We'll be addressing individual issues as they come up, so please make sure that you understand the instructions given and let us know if you have any recurring questions. I've cced Hanna, who is in touch with the customer on this project, on this e-mail.
I replied as follows, but have so far had no word back from Gengo...
I always adhere to the limited guidelines of VC...perhaps you could provide some examples of non-adherence.
The trouble is that the VC's list is so very limited. It even starts off with a translation of COULEUR which should be the American English version COLOR according to Gengo translation rules and not the Brit version COLOUR. Also PORTEFEUILLE should be BILLFOLD rather than wallet following the US English rule.
I have already pointed out that VESTE CROISÉE means DOUBLE-BREASTED (where did SCARF AND HAT come from??!!)
VC's vocabulary list offers some help to French-English translators but is by no means exhaustive.
Could you provide a list of examples of translations that customers have complained about. That would be very helpful.
One last thing, the style guide says to use a currency symbol instead of the name but I find in the French-English jobs that € comes as EURO EUROS E euro euros ... in front or following the figure. Should all these variations be changed to €xxx, or should we faithfully follow the customer's text????
Is that really appropriate to post in a public forum? I mean, is there a potential that someone could Google and VC's find this thread, now? That could cause some legal ramifications, I should think... But I'm not a lawyer.
Is this really a "public" forum? What "legal ramifications" are you talking about?
I have worked as a journalist for 30 years and think I recognize what constitutes libel.
What do you consider damaging in the few facts I have outpointed?
One might as well not bother having a so-called translator forum like this if certain pertinent issues are taboo.
Does anyone know if this forum can be accessed by anyone other than the French translators and Gengo employees? That's pertinent to my concern.
mistymikes is right — these are public forums that can be viewed by anyone on the Internet including Gengo customers. For this reason, it's important that we don't identify customers here (see the Translator NDA for more info on the requirement re. client confidentiality). I've abbreviated references to this customer in your earlier posts but please keep this in mind going forward.
If you need to include information in your posts that could be used to identify specific customers, please use the Translators Only forum. This forum is closed to translators only. If you're not able to view or access the Translator's Only Forum, please let me know.
All of the above aside, I think this is an awesome discussion! We're also really impressed by your initiative to improve efficiency and quality on this project.
Thanks for clearing that up, Natalia. I wasn't trying to be aggressive or anything, so I'm glad you could clear up my concern.
I'll be sure not to use specific customer names in the future! :)
@Accystanley. Yes, I think they've heard these questions from many of us. I gather that they are working on a proper glossary and so forth, and the client is just slow. My guess is that they are only worried about not using "new" because of some legal implications.
One thing I wonder is whether anyone on the client's end looks at comments and, for instance, corrects typos in the original French. When I'm guessing my way in understanding a typo or other garbled source, I put it in the comments, but I feel like they are going out to the void.
Have you guys noticed how scarves are the French as snow is reputed to be to Eskimos? How do we get along with one measly word in English for such a huge variety of scarves?
One question remains puzzling and unresolved for me. The Gengo translator guidelines say one must use US English....i.e. GRAY ... rather than grey. I have slavishly adhered to this but today happened to have a look at a certain UK site (not even sure if there is one in the States) where on an item I just translated the COLOR (or colour) in the ad had been changed from GRAY to grey ... quite understandable as a Brit audience would not latch on to a BILLFOLD rather than wallet, or VEST instead of waistcoat or cardigan etc etc.
Is it possible to get a definitive Gengo ruling on this .... for which market are we translating ... the American or British !!!????
From the Gengo translator guidelines (emphasis added):
"American vs. British spelling
• Gengo uses American spelling unless the customer requests otherwise"
I think we can take it as sufficiently implied that the customer is requesting British spelling, based on their list of requested translations.
I, for one, will definitely be making a more careful effort to use British spellings, now that this has been brought to my attention.
I had not fully realized that this forum was public to all the world. I am strongly in favor of moving all of this discussion to the Translators-only forum; I don't think we'd lose anything, and we'd avoid the risk of accidentally identifying specific clients or releasing confidential information. I've started an 'article' there ('French > English API Client Discussion) https://support.gengo.com/entries/22257382-french-english-api-client-discussion), which I think is how that forum is supposed to work (if anyone knows of a better way, please suggest it).
I'll include my longer thoughts on the UK vs US English discussion there, but for now I will add that I received official confirmation that this Client prefers UK English.
Thans travcurrit! :)