Finding your bearings with language


Well, I survived my latest translation job. I have to give it all a read through today and send it off tomorrow. With the aid of a translating program, I ran the science article through to literally translate it word for word and then spent the week going through it all.

The pieces of the elaborate puzzle took a while to come together as scientific reports are so long-winded, repetitive and filled with jargon.

There were many moments when I just went WTF and had no idea where to start, like when I read this phrase:

‘He highlighted the importance of microbiota acquisition from mothers prior to or during delivery that provides first stimuli for the maturation of the intestinal immune system and development and conveyed that establishment of microbiome contributes to the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis and mucosal barrier function and any aberrations in that may lead to non-optimal microbiota and predispose them to subsequent diseases.’

Other times I was surprised by my own ability to nail a sentence without pouring over a dictionary like this little beauty:

‘Microbial symbionts have been evolutionarily adapted to provide the required organic compounds (essential amino acids, vitamins) and the ability to obtain energy from different sources.’

Or my translation:

‘Nel evoluzione i microbi simbiotici hanno la capacita’ di fornire la necessaria composti organici (aminoacidi essenziali, vitamine) e possano prendere energia da fonti diverse.’

I kept myself amused by learning the Italian words for gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, gut, carrier, brainstorm, networking, a long term well being, etc.

I had a little laugh when the translating program translated the word for ‘stools’ as the defecation sense into the word ‘sgabelli’ which is in the sitting down sense, two very different meanings!

On the whole, my job was a healthy mind work out and while I was undertaking it I couldn’t wait to get it over and done with, but now that it’s done I can see the benefits!

Next time I’d like to reserve my skills for the translation of some beautiful prose or poetry. It would be lovely to translate a beautiful new Italian author into English like D.H Lawrence did for the poetry of Salvatore Quasimodo. Now that would be an awesome gig, sharing something new with an English audience. I wish!!

After my last post, I was asked how long it took me to become fluent in Italian and how I got there. The thing about learning languages is it has to be done with a certain level of passion and determination as the learning never ends.

I suggest to start off with some kind of formal language course with a mother tongue speaker and when you get a good foundation of the grammar the rest is up to you.

To become a good speaker of a language when you immerse yourself completely in the new language, watch the t.v programs, write new words and phrases down, try to read the newspaper and mix with native speakers. Don’t be shy of trying and make as many mistakes as possible, as it’s the best way to learn and you will get plenty of help as people love to see foreigners trying to speak their language.

If you want to write in a new language then read everything you can get your hands onto, do plenty of translations and try to do as many professional language courses as you can as this will take you much longer.

As with most things in life, the rewards will be seen in the long run.