1. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Which of the two translations do you native speakers think is better?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ohmyrichard, Feb 11, 2015.

    Hi,guys. Someone asks me to translate the Chinese name of a provincial-level key scientific research lab into English. I'm not sure of my translations and I need your help. The two translation versions I come up with are as follows:

    1. The Key Laboratory of Energy-Efficient Functional Ceramics and Applied Technology of Guangdong Province
    2. Guangdong Provincial Key laboratory of Energy-Efficient Functional Ceramics and Applied Technology

    By the way, Guangdong is a province in southern China which is also known as Canton. I personally like tranlation #1, but awkwardly I am unable to tell why or how. Please tell me which of the two translations is better and offer your comment on any part of the two versions. I am also concerned about whether it is better to use "for" than "of" in the name and whether I should change "Energy-Efficient" and "Applied Technology" to "Energy-Saving" and "Application Technology" respectively.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random remarks:

    Is "Key" someone's name, or an adjective? If it's an adjective, I feel that perhaps the translation of that word is not right.

    I would keep the "of" rather than changing it to "for".

    If the province is part of the lab's name, I'd go with the second translation; in the first, that's not clear. to me.

    If you instead go with the first, I think that "the" should not be capitalized.

    Is "applied technology" related to the ceramics? It feels to me like a separate topic--like, say, "the Smith Laboratory of Heart Surgery and Tooth Implants." . I don't know the standard way to say "topic, and applied technology related to that topic"--maybe it is exactly as you have it, but that's not what I intuitively get.
     
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  3. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I should note that I have no special expertise in organizational names. :) These are just opinions.

    Key: I don't know what to use instead of "Key". I assume that this is real, not fictional, so we can't just make things up? Is "key" a word that's usually used to translate the original word, so that you're following a convention here, or did you choose it from among various synonyms?

    Province: Sorry, yes, it should be

    Guangdong Province Laboratory of ...

    rather than "Provincial..."

    Province again: When I say that it's not clear that the province is part of the name when it comes at the end, I mean that if the lab is referred to in a sentence, I wouldn't know if you were just adding more descriptive information about the lab by mentioning the province, or if the name of the province is part of the lab. If the province is at the beginning, I feel clearer on that point.

    "The": On a plaque, I don't think you'd have the The, even in the first one.

    Applied Technology: Related Applied Technology is better than anything I came up with while thinking about this. It makes a very long name even longer, but only by one word. I'd say definitely Related rather than Relevant, yes.
     
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  5. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for your further reply, ChickenFreak.

    "Key" is part of the name of the lab and here it implies that there are other labs of the same nature, but this one is one of the few or even the only one that has been selected by the provincial government to grant funds of a not-negligible amount. And "Guangdong Province" is also part of the name of the lab and its inclusion, to the understanding of many Chinese, means that this lab is not an unimportant one receiving only a small amount of funding from the government of any lower level or from other sources which may not be generous. This may be difficult for you to take, but we Chinese think this way although there are also many important research labs financially supported by big corporations or organizations. But being patronized by the provincial or even central government highlights the importance of a lab or a research program.

    So, if I place "Guangdong Province" at the beginning, can I say "Guangdong Province Key Laboratory of ..."?
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If "key" is a description - eg. it describes the importance of the lab, then it's not part of the name and probably shouldn't be capitalised.

    Maybe you need a different word other than "key".

    Would the word "Primary" or "Main" suffice?

    I personally prefer the first translation with "of Guandong Province" at the end of the name. It just sounds like it flows better.

    @Wreybies - you're a translator. Perhaps you could enlighten us!
     
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  7. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Throwing this into Google, "State Key Laboratory for..." is to be a common English translation used at Chinese universities. The phrases that's giving you trouble seems to be 国家重点 (or Guangdong in place of guojia), and I have to admit that I also wouldn't know how to translate that. However, if there is a standard within China, even if it isn't perfectly natural in English, I think it is fine to use that yourself. I prefer "for" over "of", and I don't think you have to say Guangdong Province. Guangdong alone should do it, in my opinion.
     
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd suggest:

    Guangdong State Laboratory for Energy-Efficient Functional Ceramics

    or perhaps:

    Guangdong Centre for Energy-Efficient Functional Ceramics

    That's assuming that it's the ceramics that are energy-efficient, rather than the laboratory?

    My logic behind all the deletions is:

    Key - is there a Guangdong laboratory for unimportant ceramics?

    Province - Google Guangdong and you find out that it's a province, something that I'd assume everybody in China would know.

    Applied Technology - Functional implies that the technology is applied.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah I'd echo what others are saying re Province - there's really no need for the word. Most people know Guangdong is a province, and those living and working in China should most definitely know this. Gunagdong - or Canton - is a well-known province, given the prominence of Cantonese.
     
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  10. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks for your response.

    Here I am talking about the name of a lab which may be inscribed on a plaque, and for this very reason and even for no reason, "key" should be capitalized even when the name of the lab which has "key" in it is in running text, in my view. "Key" here not only describes the thing and also is an intergral part of the name, and here I do not see a conflict between the two. As for subsitutes for "key", "primary" or "main" seems to be too plain a word for this situation. I can only think of "strategic" which is seemingly suitable but I'm not sure of it.

    I agree with you about placing "of Guangdong Province" at the end of the translation.
     
  11. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks a lot.

    It is a pity that there is no such standard translation code for this purpose over here in China. I had done some research online before I came here. In my research I saw a lot of chaos in the ways my Chinese compatriots do the job of translating the names of research labs. This is why I came here to seek advice from you, especially native speakers of English.
     
  12. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks. But I have no idea what has caused you to think that it would be the lab which is energy-efficient. "structural ceramics" and "functional ceramics" are special terms for different ceramic applications. Also I find it hard to follow you when you ask whether there is a Guangdong laboratory for unimportant ceramics. To be frank, I am confused about your point.
     
  13. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thanks.
    The difficulty I find in translating this name stems from the fact that in China we tend to include place names in names for a lot of organizations or facilities. I have noticed that in English speaking countries at least, you name a laboratory after a prominent figure in the particular field. My problem with this translating job arises from our Chinese naming practice which is quite different from yours. In China, by using some adjectives like "key" or "strategic" we intend to indicate very clearly whether a lab is a state-level(in China here "state" means "national" rather than what is equivalent to "province") or a provincial level or a municipal level lab. And usually the importance of a state-level lab, a provincial level lab and a municipal level lab decreases. In stark contrast, you do not use these adjectives in the name of a lab; you may tell about its importance in the brief introduction or you do not give a brief introduction on the plaque or anywhere, everyone in a certain field and even many amateurs know it. You may say that some Chinese love to boast about their own stuff. I agree with you on this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  14. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Shadowfax is agreeing that it's not the lab which is energy efficient.

    I think the problem many are having is with the word "key". This word comes up more often in English with key points or that something is key, but not with laboratory. I think possibly "main laboratory" would be better in English. However, if "key laboratories" is good enough for other respected universities, it should be good enough here.
     
  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If there is no "lab for unimportant ceramics", why do you need to call this one the "key lab...."?

    I think that the problem I'm having is one of culture. My suggestions were intended to be brief and to the point. From what's been said since I posted them, I get the impression that the title you're looking for should be as grandiose and impressive as possible.

    Incidentally, I wouldn't include "Provincial" in the title - it has connotations of not being very sophisticated.
     
  16. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    I have read my two original translations agian but I am still at a loss as to in what sense my two translations would cause such possible ambiguity. In my two translations, "energy-efficient" is immediately followed by "functional ceramics" and separated from "laboratory" by "of", so why would there be any ambiguity? Please enlighten me. By the way, learning English never fails to give me a headache.
     
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  17. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Oh, I am sorry to say that I have never intended to polish things up; the orginal Chinese name for this lab means it and I have translated it verbatim. "Key" here means "important", "critical", "vital" or "strategic" but it is that this "key lab" is mentioned as opposed to "other unimportant labs" rather than "other unimportant ceramics". We have no way to define and differentiate important ceramics and unimportant ceramics, but it is possible to differentiate important labs from relatively unimportant or less important labs of the same field. You misunderstood me.

    Yes, "provincial" has that negative sense and it is also one issue that worries me to some extent. By the way, may I ask about whether you are a native speaker of English. I do not intend to offend you by asking about it.
     
  18. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I am a native speaker
     
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  19. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Incidentally, I think of this, but I am not sure whether it is relevant to the redundant mention of "province" when there is already "Guangdong". Why do you have "California State University, Fresno" rather than simply naming it as "California University, Fresno" without including "state"?
     
  20. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally prefer the first one. And I have no problem with the word "key," because I understand what key means in this case. It's THE lab. It's like the #1 Lab. It's where all the important stuff happens. It's the hub or home base. Correct? If I am correct, don't lose the word. Don't drop it or change it. Because "key" is defined as "of paramount or crucial importance." So yes, you are using the word correctly.

    The only thing that is really throwing me off is the a Energy-Efficient. If it's in the translation, then I suppose you have to have it. But if there's an option to drop it, I would. It gets too wordy with that in there.

    Also, with the Guangdong Province.. If you're looking for something that would be on a plaque, I'd consider just removing the "of" before Guangdong and insert a symbol instead. So it would look more like this:

    Key Laboratory of Energy-Efficient Functional Ceramics and Applied Technology -- Guangdong Province

    Or, you could remove the symbol all together:

    Key Laboratory of Energy-Efficient Functional
    Ceramics and Applied Technology

    Guangdong Province

    But that's just my opinion. :)
     
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  21. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's "The University of California" and then there's "California State University", both at numerous locations.

    In the city where I work, there's Birmingham City University, the University of Birmingham and Aston University. (Aston is an area within Birmingham)

    In both instances, you need the full name to differentiate between them.
     
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  22. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    OP: The question is, are you trying to make the name sound like a "real" Chinese institute as they would translate it in China, or a name given by a Western media consultant? Grammatical imperfection and a degree of dictionary translation is to be expect in the first case.
     
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  23. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    I would like a name given by a Western media consultant who takes the Chinese situation which surely has something different into consideration. After having read the previous sentence, you may say I actually want the former, but I do not know whether that is the way I actually go. You know, I cannot throw away elements which are very important in the original Chinese name of the lab given by a Chinese expert; otherwise, she or he may think I am doing a poor translating job. I mean everything in my two translations has a corresponding part in the original Chinese name and in my opinion and I am sure also in the opinion of the creator of the Chinese name of the lab cannot be omitted. The elements that cannot be dropped include "Guangdong", "key laboratory", "energy-efficient functional ceramics" and "applied technology". If I were the person who is in charge of the lab, then I wouldn't take such things so seriously and would think the omissions of "Province" and even "applied technology" are not something to make a fuss about. But you know I am not that person in charge of the lab and I am only a translator in this situation and I cannot make too many decisions.

    To conclude, I want something which roughly (not rigidly) corresponds to the original Chinese name for the lab and at the same time sounds as natural to your native ears as possible.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  24. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I would say it just like that. The Guangdong key laboratory for/of energy-efficient functional ceramics and applied technology.

    Not to get into a debate about translation, but you absolutely can drop things depending on the need of client. In your case, however, it seems important to represent the original Chinese as best you can, so do that.
     
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  25. ohmyrichard
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    ohmyrichard Active Member

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    Thank you for being patient, telling me that the inclusion of "state" in "California State University, Fresno" is intended to differentiate it from the campuses of the University of California, and telling me that you are a native.
     

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