John Decker

The Translation Inquirer has seen a lot of hardcover translated material, but nothing like this: One-Way Ticket to Istanbul, by 13 different authors and presumably 13 translators into English. Kalem Literary Agency of Istanbul published it in 2008. A statement toward the front of the book says that this appealingly small-format work is for promotional purposes only, and is not for sale. Nevertheless, I paid 50 cents for it at a second-hand book sale at a library. This volume only provides the reader with a tease: dipping into sample translations from 13 fictional works.

Although the excerpts appear to be examples of the notorious “wrong-way” translations, their quality is never atrocious. Any native English speaker could have cleaned up the few remaining errors. The English was just about flawless in some of the excerpts. How could this happen? Almost certainly not by virtue of machine translation. So, for the first time in my life I am becoming acquainted with Turkish culture through these excerpts. One thing comes out loud and clear: this is a culture caught between East and West–which fits in with everything we know about the nation’s geography and history.

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

New Queries

(English>Czech 11-15.1) In a document pertaining to water boilers, a colleague is seeking the Czech equivalent of “marine voltage.” The document makes reference to “marine executions 3≈220V/9.6 kW/50-60 Cy,” if that provides any additional help.

(English>German 11-15.2) The technical term in question, “association pin hole,” relates to a connection between a secondary and a primary speaker. But the untranslated term was embedded in a German text stating that, on the operational side, the speakers were already adjusted relative to each other.

(English>Italian 11-15.3) This query provides examples, which is helpful (I wish they were all like that). The problem term is “full-stress response,” and manifestations of it are rapid breathing and mental overload, impairing one’s ability to act or speak in any way that is helpful. That should go a long way toward providing proper Italian for this.

(English>Polish 11-15.4) A colleague is looking for good Polish for the term “counteracting stimulant,” which appeared in a pharmaceuticals document. Two interesting context sentences have been provided: “By manipulating sedation, or its counteractants, she [the nurse] can ease the patient to death … If the dose [of the painkiller] turns out to be fatal, then the nurse can withhold the counteracting stimulant.” This sounds like an ethical hornet’s nest, but we are only trying to provide clear cross-cultural equivalents.

(English>Russian 11-15.5) In a text related to medical instrumentation, the phrase “in a confirmatory fashion” proved to be difficult for a colleague going into Russian. Here’s some context: “The Rhythmia Mapping System will be used in a confirmatory fashion alongside other available products that are otherwise used by clinicians in such procedures, including fluoroscopy and echocardiography.”

(English>Spanish 11-15.6) In the world of health insurance, a “specialty appeal” is an appeal of a medical case that requests that a specific type of specialist review the case. A sentence that almost certainly points in the proper direction is: “Specialty appeal: the appeal is available only after we decide the initial appeal. Other examples are expedited appeals, acquired brain injury appeals, etc.”

(English>Spanish 11-15.7) This query involves slang, so it should generate quite a variety of responses. The text speaks of “4 leadership behaviors that are executive recruiting turnoffs.” Try grappling with that final word, with the understanding that it comes from “to be turned off, to be repelled.”

(French>English 11-15.8) While translating a document instructing how to maintain relations with the local media, a colleague was looking for how to render the words in bold that describes the box in which the names of the editor and journalists are listed. Here is some context: Dans les journaux: les coordonnées des rédactions et des journalistes sont généralement affichées clairement en début ou en fin de journal dans un encadré appelé «l’ours». What could it be?

(German>Spanish [English] 11-15.9) Here is a financial query, and the very long sentence below should help to provide the answer. The problem word is in bold print: Eine kostenlose Kreditkarte ist für einen Australien-Aufenthalt sowie für jede andere Reise eine sehr sinnvolle Anschaffung. Auch wenn heutzutage fast überall mit einer gewöhnlichen EC-Karte Geld abgebucht werden kann, so bezahlt man doch meist eine unverhältnismäßig hohe Abbuchungsgebühr (je nach Anbieter ca. 6 Euro) und ist bezüglich mancher Finanzangelegenheiten stark limitiert. What is it?

(Spanish>English 11-15.10) Two terms in insolvency law proved to be a problem for a colleague. They are in bold print, separated by the word “o”: Ajustes de precio: Cualquier crédito laboral adicional, créditos concursales o créditos contra la masa que no estén ya incluidos en los compromisos de empleados y pensiones. Does anyone know the difference between these two?

Responses to Old Queries

(German>French [English] 7-15.4) (Kugelpfanne): Oliver French defines this as a “ball race.” Okay, now can someone provide the French?

 (Swedish>English 7-15.10) (dogse): Paul Norlen did more than just provide an English equivalent (“capable”) for this word. He also points out that an online resource, the Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, ( functions as a Swedish equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary. This is definitely helpful and we are grateful to Paul.

             Thanks to all those who contributed to this column, but more replies would certainly be appreciated. The Translation Inquirer will be ready for whatever comes, just as he has since taking over this column in the spring of 1993. Thanks in advance for your help!

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).




  1. Ellen Sowchek says:

    In response to French>English 11.14.8:

    The term “ours” refers to a masthead. The following appears in the Grand dictionnaire terminologique entry for bloc-générique (masthead): “En France, le terme ours est utilisé familièrement dans ce sens.”

    Un encadré appelé «l’ours» would be a box containing masthead information.

  2. Josephine Bacon says:

    French to English

    “ou en fin de journal dans un encadré appelé «l’ours».” This would be translated as a “box” or “side-bar” depending on where it appears on the page, another example of one language being more specific than another.

    1. Jean Lachaud says:

      Masthead is correct, in that it contains the name of the owner and editor. Maybe “boxed masthead”might fit. In France, the content of the “ours” is mandated by law, and it must be in a box.

      “Box” or “sidebar” by themselves are not correct, since those terms do not necessarily refer to the unique content of the “ours.”

  3. Bougouma Mbaye Fall says:

    Ref. French>English 11-15.8 in this issue: “un encadré appelé «l’ours». What could it be?”

    “Ours” could be translated into English as Credits Box: names and titles of journalists or whoever wrote the article or paper.

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