Translation Portfolio

About me

My name is Susan Bradley, a 22 year old Arts student in UCC. I study final year Spanish and English, with an end goal of working in HR, whether that be in Spain or Ireland. This project has definitely provided me with an insight to the translation process, which I’m sure will be very helpful for my future career.

Why I Chose This Topic

I originally wanted to do my project on a place called Spanishtown in Jamaica. While steeped in Spanish history, every piece of information I could find on the topic was in English, seeing as Jamaica is an English speaking country. Knowing that time was limited, I chose to translate an information booklet for the University of Andrés Bello in Chile. The reason I chose to translate a University booklet, is that we often hear about many Spanish universities for Irish students to go on an exchange to, but I for one have never been tempted or even informed enough to want to go on a university exchange to Chile. My initial thoughts towards a Spanish speaking university outside of Spain were that maybe the university in question was not as good as the more well known Spanish universities. I wondered if it would have the same legitimacy when it came to accreditation, as well as wondering if its campuses, sports areas, libraries and other services were of the same prestigious level as the more popular Spanish speaking universities across the world.

While Irish students are promised a fun filled Erasmus year with a focus on learning Spanish, I wanted to find a university which emphasised its accomplishments and the importance of academics. This of course had to be in Spanish, and never before translated into English. I had huge difficulty in finding a Spanish information booklet  that did not have the option of automatically changing the language to English. In a world where you can do almost anything you desire with the click of a button, it was infuriating to find a good source text only to realise that there was an option at the end to translate the whole text into English.

What is the text about?

I eventually found the Andrés Bello University, and was happy to find out that not only had the text never been translated into English before, but it gave exactly the sort of information that I desired – factual, clear information with an emphasis on the university in question’s achievements. The text introduces us to the University and its campuses, with lots of detailed examples of why students chose this place of study. While the booklet in total was 70 pages long, I only translated the first 7, which had all the basic information about the university that you might need. The other 63 pages went into further detail about different courses and degrees.

Translation process

To begin the task of translating my text, I initially planned to translate using only my knowledge of Spanish. This was of course impossible, as there was some new vocabulary that I did not understand, which would have changed the overall meaning of the text had I not sought out other ways to translate. So the next part of the process for me was to use translating websites, two of which stood out for me. I found that ‘Wordreference’ and ‘Spanishdict’ were very helpful, in that they not only offered me a direct translation of the word I was looking for, but these sites gave me about 3 or 4 different translations for words with an example of context. This was a fantastic translation tool as it helped me to choose which English word I wanted to use depending on the context, which in this case was obviously a university setting. These two websites provided an educational version of a lot of seemingly non-educational words. An example of this would be ‘inverstigación’, which translated directly means ‘investigation’, but Spanishdict informed me that it is simply another word for ‘research’, which actually makes more sense in regards to the fact that research would be carried out profusely in a university, as opposed to ‘investigation’, which sounds more like a term used in crime situations.

Translation Barriers

My next task was to change various words an phrases that just didn’t sound right in English. Wordreference and Spanishdict could not help me with this, as I needed to familiarise myself with the language of academics. I used the UCC website to see if there was any correlation between the words I needed to change and the words commonly used when referring to a university. ‘Casa de studios’, for example, can be translated directly as ‘home of studies’. This confused me as I thought that the creators of the website were referring to the university in general. It was not until I went on to the ucc website that I began to realise that ‘home of studies’ could be translated as ‘department’, i.e.. department of English.

There was one word in particular which kept on re-occurring, and that was ‘postural’, in English meaning ‘nominate’. The text kept on referring to the fact that students could ‘nominate’ to a course or ‘nominate’ to a degree. Again, I could not find any other translation than ‘nominate’, but it soon became clear that the world ‘apply’ was meant. Another example of this would be the word ‘reprobación’, meaning ‘reprobation’. I still didn’t understand this in English, so after googling the definition of ‘reprobation’ in English, I came to the conclusion that it actually meant ‘high fail rates’ when talking about tutors and classes.

The translation barriers that I was faced with really made me think about the way in which different cultures use different phrases to describe the same thing. I found the phrase ‘camarines para damas y varonas’ to be particularly difficult to translate. I had to take it one step at a time, where I translated the phrase literally to ‘alcoves for ladies and men’. I knew that the context was that of a swimming pool, meaning that these ‘alcoves’ (which are defined as a small space or room inside a bigger room) in fact were referring to changing rooms. This made it clear that the sports centre in UNAB had ‘male and female changing rooms’.

Analysis of Source

The original booklet for Andrés Bello University is full of so much information about the university that one might get lost in reading it. I had originally thought that the process of translating would be the highlight of the project for me, and while I did enjoy learning about the differences between Spanish and English, I must admit that I was surprisingly impressed with the information given. I of course knew nothing of the Chilean University before reading the booklet, and to be honest I thought it would be just like translating any other universities booklet. UNAB, however, impressed me so much so that I have began telling my friends about it! For example, I find it fascinating that there are mock trials for law students and mirror room for psychology students. Some parts of the source text were slightly challenging, as it is obvious that there are many linguistic and cultural differences, not only between Chile and Ireland, but also between Chile and Spain. An example of this is the fact that Chile is in South America, meaning it uses dollar signs instead of the euro sign. Another example would be 2.000 to Chileans means 2,000 to English speakers.

Helpful Translation Project Tools

Wordreference and Spanishdict were certainly insightful in regards to helping me with vocabulary that I had never seen before, however they did not give me everything I needed to achieve a smooth and flowing translation. To do this, I incorporated skills I had learned in my translation class. This class was a fantastic way to get me thinking about the important difference between a literal translation and a translation that made sense. I was able to apply my knowledge of restructuring sentences and phrases to my project to achieve a more realistic and grammatically correct text in my final draft. The first part of this module also helped me greatly with this process. I will always remember the advertisement that Helena showed us in class, where a woman was wearing a perfume, translated as ‘swine’. It really helped me to understand the importance of translation, and the fact that even after something is translated, one must take a second if not third and fourth look at their work to see if it would make sense to the target audience.

While I found the second half of the module interesting and fun as a whole, I have to admit that as soon as WordPress was mentioned and I was shown how to use it, I could not see myself using the Wiki page I had set up for myself. WordPress is so incredibly user friendly, and you could get lost in choosing a theme and changing the layout of your page. I really enjoyed the process of being able to edit or change anything I wanted up until the project due date, as it really does exemplify what the translation process is all about.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed doing this project, and this module as a whole. I was nervous that my translation would not be perfect, but hearing my class teachers say that no translation is ever perfect really set the tone for my project. I was able to take a relaxed approach to the project, which helped immensely when I thought no more could be done, only to find something else I could change having went away and then gone back to my site on WordPress. I have found that my vocabulary has increased significantly, as well as my typing skills, and obviously my overall translation skills. I also think that Andrés Belo University is a fantastic place of opportunity and study, and now that its information booklet has been translated into English, perhaps it will be seen on a wider scale across the world.