The Translation Inquirer

John Decker

Within a few months it will be 23 years since this column came under my jurisdiction, so to speak. In the early years, I was never surprised to see communication about the column appear in what soon acquired the pejorative name Snail Mail. That never happens now. I also used to fax the column to ATA Headquarters in Alexandria. Now I never do, and the fax machine gathers dust. Last year various suggestions were put forth to make the turnaround between query and response go quicker, including moving this column online. Now it has happened and the column can now be found in the Online Extras section of the new Chronicle-Online website. But through it all, you, the members have been the real stars, not I.

(Note: As always, Per Dohler’s generous assistance with proofing this column is gratefully acknowledged.)

New Queries

(Bosnian>English 2-16.1) The troublesome term in this medical query is grupna motorna snaga. The colleague posting the query explains that it is medicinski izraz vezan za zglobove, na nalazu piše cak skraćeno gms. Can someone help?

(Dutch>English 2-16.2) In civil engineering, licht-bouwvergunningplichtige must be quite obscure, so it’s worthwhile to have some extensive context. Here it is: Onderhavige aanvraag betreft geen kleine, tijdelijke or voor het rieverbeheer noodzakelijke activiteit, omdat het geen activiteit betreft die in het Besluit licht-bouwvergunningplichtige bouwwerken wordt vermeld, noch is het een activiteit in de zin van artikel 4.1.1 van het Besluit ruimtelijke ordening. What is it?

(English>Russian 2-16.3) This query brings us for the first time (to my knowledge) into Robert’s Rules of Order territory. A colleague wishes to know good Russian for the words in bold: “If the chairman of the meeting rules a resolution or an amendment to a resolution admissible or out of order, as the case may be, the proceedings of the meeting or on the resolution in question shall not be invalidated.” The colleague is troubled by the fact that a court is usually involved in such things.

(French>English 2-16.4) A puzzling heading, Lettre USIC, was found in a French hospitalization discharge. What might it refer to?

(German>Spanish [English] 2-16.5) There is a quarterly British journal devoted to this topic (Travel Law Quarterly), so perhaps the following query is reasonably straightforward: Der Kunde kann VBN an dessen Sitz in Mijas verklagen. Es gilt das spanische Reiserecht. Should the query have focused on the abbreviation instead?

(Italian>English 2-16.6) Turn over assegnato termine per note in your mind, if you can, in the context of a civil court hearing and see if it rings any bells. Here is the full phrase: Assegnato termine per note, con le quali il ricorrente replicava alle eccezioni. Any ideas?

(Polish>English 2-16.7) This military-related query centers around the words in bold: W ćwiczeniach głównym tłem taktycznym jest obrona krajów bałtyckich przed atakiem z zewnątrz. What is it?

(Russian>English 2-16.8) Техническая сторона использования древесных отходов в качестве топлива в малых котельных решена не только за рубежом, но и отечественными производителями. What is the best way to render the three words in bold?

(Spanish>English 2-16.9) Speaking about some very severe legal infractions, this text includes El incumplimiento de la obligación de adoptar las medidas correctoras comunicadas por requerimiento del Comité Permanente a las que se alude en los artículos 26.3, 31.2, 44.2 y 47.3 de la Ley 10/2010 cuando concurra una voluntad deliberadamente rebelde al cumplimiento. If possible, try to shed some light on those final eight words.

(Spanish>German [English] 2-16.10) In a document relating to the insurance field, SLAs implantados proved difficult. Here is some context: Excelente servicio post-venta, con SLAs implantados en todos los proveedores. Who can help?

(Swedish>English 2-16.11) The colleague who posted this query had a reasonable grip on the subject matter and understood förgårdsmarker to mean a piece of land used in architectural planning, but was unable to go beyond that. Here is the context phrase: vackra smalhus i tegel utmed lummiga förgårdsmarker. Who can help?

Responses to Old Queries

(French>English 11-15.8) (un encadré appelé «l’ours»): Ellen Sowcheck says this refers to a masthead. She found the following in the entry for bloc-générique when consulting Le grand dictionnaire terminologique: En France, le terme ours est utilisé familièrement dans ce sens.

Josephine Bacon would translate it as “box” or “sidebar,” depending on where it appears on the page. This is another example of one language being more specific than another. Jean Lachaud also likes “masthead,” in that it contains the name of the owner and the editor. Perhaps “boxed masthead” would fit. The French have mandated the content of the ours, specifying that it must be in a box. “Sidebar” or “box” by themselves are incorrect, since those terms do not necessarily refer to the unique content of the ours.

(French>Italian [English] 9-15.8) (faire de tes dix doigts): Given the context, Manuela Francavilla did a dictionary search that turned up ne rien faire, ne rien savoir faire de ses dix doigts: être oisif, être incapable. Julia Smucker thinks that a good English equivalent would be “with your own two hands,” the sense being of labor, whether manual or otherwise. In her opinion, the way to translate the reply into English is, “If you don’t know what to do with your own two hands, go to hell. There’s no room for you here.” To write “If you can’t pull yourself up by your own bootstraps…” would be to stray too far from the original.

(German>English 9-15.9) (bei unzureichender Wirksamkeit): Henry Jackson likes “absent sufficient efficiency” for this. Sabine Michael renders it as “in case of insufficient efficacy.”

(Italian>English 9-15.10 (schede di recupero): The first word of the query, says Manuela Francavilla, refers to a piece of paper with some kind of information on it that it is used in a number of fields. But in this context, it refers to extra pages or extra photocopies of exercises provided to students so they can learn scholastic material. As for recupero, it means to “make up, improve.” The context is fixing what students failed to learn initially, sometimes during the summer months.

            So there you have it. Just make a point of checking the Online Extras section of the Chronicle-Online website and this column will remain in good health! Thank you in advance. 

The Translation Inquirer wants to hear from you! You can post a query or response in the Comments section below, or e-mail them to (subject line: The Translation Inquirer). 


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