Highlighting borrowed words

A brief aside purely for translators here: if the author has italicized something merely to emphasize that it’s borrowed from English, there’s no need to take that formatting across into the English translation!

That may sound obvious, but in fact it’s something I see time and time again: a leenwoord still highlighted after going back into the original language. Translators are just too used to being picky and making sure every nuance of formatting is reflected in the target language – and keep on doing so even when it’s not appropriate.

  • italics are widely used to emphasize borrowings from other languages. But don’t leave them in the target if it’s no longer a borrowed term…
  • …and that also applies when something that was emphasized as e.g. Latin or French in the source is converted to the target language during translation
  • single or double quotes are also commonly used to emphasize a linguistic borrowing. They may need zapping too!

The tools we use (CAT = computer-assisted translation) admittedly don’t help with this, as they often show the formatting only as beginning and ending tags, issuing warnings and errors if they don’t match. But there’s still nothing to stop the translator including a redundant empty pair of tags in the target sentence!

Prevalence: moderate. Only where translations are being assisted by using specific tools, such as Studio or memoQ.
Frequency: high. Just about anyone who uses a CAT tool is liable to do it occasionally.
Native: yes. Very much so: it’s a technique issue, a bit of common sense – nothing to do with knowledge of the language.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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