1. Anomally
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    Anomally Member

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    German / Dutch Translator

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anomally, May 27, 2008.

    In the novel that I am writing, the German and Dutch languages figure heavily into it, especially since a couple of the characters are of Dutch/German descent. I'm not going to all their lines in German / Dutch, but I would like to know where I could find a decent Dutch and/or German translator, so I can a couple lines in the book.

    Does anyone know where i could find one? There's plenty of automatic translators online, but I've had a deep mistrust of them since my grade school French days.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I am a Spanish / English interpreter. A real one, made of flesh and blood. I work for a company called Language Line, feel free to check them out on the web. I can tell you that all freebie web translators are very suspect. Bad for you, great for me because I would be out of a job otherwise.

    The best thing to do is find someone who speaks these languages. Translators on the web can give you grammaticly correct translations, but these translations may simply not be that way the native speakers of these languages would actually say these things.


    http://languageline.com
     
  3. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    As Wreybies says, be very careful with this sort of thing. Make sure that the person or people you ask to assist you know exactly the context of your dialogue (so include some of the preceding text of your tale, or a summary of the character, to assist in this). Most languages have idioms or coloquialisms which radically alter the meaning of what is said, and Dutch and German have very noticable regional differences in dialect depending on where in the counrty someone comes from, notably, there is a massive cultural divide between northern and southern Dutch regions. Furthermore, there have been famous cases where poor translations have led to real trouble!

    If you don't like the idea of paying for the translation service, which to be fair, may ultimately be the smartest way to go, then you could perhaps contact a college or organisation in your area which deals with those languages. For example, in Manchester in the UK near where I live, there is the Instituto Cervantes, which is a cultural centre for Spanish people that also promotes the learning of Spanish and Catalan; were it not for the fact that many of my relatives are Spanish and I can speak a bit of it, I'd be tempted to ask someone there to assist me if I needed something put into Spanish. The phone book or Yellow Pages will be a good place to start, maybe looking for an expatriot's club or something of that nature.

    Al
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just google for websites, chatrooms and blogs where german and dutch folk would hang out... and then post your plea for help...

    but be careful how you add such stuff to your book... too much will annoy the readers... i don't know why you think it's necessary to do it, but be sure your reason is a valid one... otherwise, don't bother... a sprinkling of commonly-known words in either tongue, amid their english dialog will be enough to set their characters, i should think...
     
  5. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    Ich kann deustch...aber nicht sehr gut. I could probably give you what you're looking for in a way that would be understandable to native German speakers but I can't guarantee the grammar would be flawless.
     
  6. Anomally
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    Anomally Member

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    To Wreybies
    Thank you, I'll go have a look at that website.

    To Al B
    I'll keep that in mind, and though I don't really want to pay out money, if it means making my book more realistic, then I'll probably do it

    To mammamaia
    The first place I plan to use german is when a german air pilot accidently lands in the midst of a canadian army encampment outside london. For now, I just want him to be pleading for his life in German, so that the English speaking characters don't understand what he is saying. I won't overuse it, I know first hand how frustrating it gets when you can't understand what you're reading, but I wanted to add some emphasis on the language barrier between the two armies.

    To TheFedoraPirate (love the name)
    That would be great! I only have a couple sentences to turn into German right now, but later, when the German speaking and English speaking characters interact, I'll need your help even more. That's alright if it isn't completely gramatically correct.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To do this, you don't need actual German. You only need to say what your Canadian characters are seeing and hearing. They won't hear words, just a string of syllables in a strong accent. They'll see the fear in his eyes, hear desperation in his voice, and they'll be dealing with their own fears as well.

    The chances are pretty good that your readers may understand German better than your Canadian characters, in which case quoted German will NOT have the impact you are seeking, because your readers will subconsciously expect the characters to understand as much as they do. But German spoken rapidly by someone terrified for his life is much harder to understand than German that your readers can see and take their time with.

    Think of it like Expressionist painting - sometimes what you paint around comes through more strongly than what you would paint in minute, photographic detail.
     
  8. Anomally
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    Anomally Member

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    Oooh. That's a very good point! Thanks Cogito! The German soldier actually has an interesting impact on my story, and I want him to be very memorable for the readers, and describing him the way you suggested would be a great way to do it!

    ~ Anomally
     
  9. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    A thing to be aware of, is that a large proprtion of Luftwaffe pilots were highly educated, and there's a good chance that he would have some English (I've read a lot of biographies by German pilots, which is how I know that).

    So, you could actually have him talk in broken English with just the odd word of German in there. I'd recommend reading the autobiography, 'Spitfire on my tail' by Ulrich Steinhilper, it's about that very thing - he was shot down over England during WW2. It would also help you to avoid silly technical errors in reading a book such as that, since you could steal some detail from it to add realism. and it would also help you to avoid the silly 'arrogant teuton' cliches you see in war films and novels all the time; most German pilots were flying because they wanted to fly, not because they were goose-stepping robots.

    If you need any technical crap about that sort of thing, give me a shout, I am actually a pilot and it's an area of interest for me, so I might be able to help with detail.

    Al
     
  10. Masli
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    Masli Member

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    If you still need it... I'm ducth, so if you need something translated, just let me know, and I'll be glad to help.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it shouldn't be 'alright' if you don't want readers who know the languages well enough to notice that you've goofed...
     

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