Over the last few days I was working on a comprehensive wedding speech assignment. I had to translate the speeches of several family members of the bride and groom either into English or into German since the bride was German and her parents and grandparents didn’t speak English, while the groom’s Best Man didn’t speak any German. I must admit that I love wedding speech translations. They have always been one of my big favourite translation projects – no matter whether it is a translation into German or a translation into English. In either case it is a challenge to convey the feelings of the person giving the wedding speech into the target language. Particularly, if it is a Best Man’s speech, which is almost always a very humorous wedding speech and quite often full of tricky phrases and wordplays that would completely lose their meaning in a literal translation. And not only that, they wouldn’t be funny anymore!
Every person giving a wedding speech always wants to express something they feel quite deeply about the bride or the groom or both of them, something that they think could contribute to the very special and festive atmosphere of the wedding celebration and the happiness of the bridal couple, their families and guests. They know that they can express this in their own language but if they don’t master the language that is not their mother tongue then they rely entirely on the skills of the translator to get their message across in the translation. That is why I always feel somehow honoured in having been chosen to be that translator. Please don’t get me wrong: I like every kind of translation and I always do my very best for each and every client no matter what the subject of the translation into German or the translation into English may be but with wedding speech translations there is very often something quite special happening. It is probably the fact that these translations are used for a very happy and joyful occasion and that the clients who are giving me the translation assignment are generally very excited about their speech at the wedding and inclined to communicate with me, as the translator, about the speech texts in order to make absolutely sure that everything goes really well and that all text ambiguities are clarified. And so far everyone was extremely happy that they not only received the wedding speech translation in writing but also a free mp3 recording of the wedding speech translation so they could practice their speech in the language that is foreign to them since they could listen to the right intonation of the words and phrases. Having the opportunity to practice their speech in the foreign language also made them much more confident to give their speech and helped to ease the anxiety that a speaker might naturally have with regards to this unusual task.
To cut a long story short I must say that I had some very pleasant telephone conversations or email correspondence with clients who needed their wedding speech or Best Man’s speech translated into German or English during the course of the translation project. I also quite often received some very positive and grateful feedback from these clients after the wedding and their deliverance of the wedding speech. All in all I must say that for me these wedding speech translations are always fun to do and on a personal level very rewarding.
If you want to have a look at an example that a client kindly allowed me to publish then click here or if you’d like to read what people have said about having their wedding speeches translated then click here.
The task of giving a speech in a foreign language, for example, an acceptance speech, inauguration speech, after-dinner speech, award speech, public speech, business speech, society speech, annual dinner speech, chairman’s speech, best man’s speech or wedding speech can be a very challenging task if the person is not fluent in that language.
Apart from the need of having an accurate and eloquently phrased translation tailored for the target audience it is also necessary for the client to know how to pronounce the sentences correctly in order to give a good speech and not make a fool of themselves.
In order to help the client with their pronunciation, in addition to the translation, I provide an mp3 recording of the translated speech in the language it was translated into – as an extra service free of charge as part of my translation and proofreading service. This translation recording will offer the client the opportunity to practice their speech in the language that is not so familiar to them and will give them more confidence when they are delivering their translated speech in front of an audience. To find out more please visit my website: Translation of Speeches or the German version: Übersetzung von Reden
my new translation website (click for larger image)
Hello everybody. It´s been a long time since my last blog post. But there was a reason (apart from translating!). We were working hard on my new website. Now it’s finished – and I am very pleased with the result.
On the right there is a screenshot of the new website. Please have a look. Everyone who has visited the new site tell me that it is much easier to navigate and that it looks really cool and professional. But, judge for yourself 🙂
We fixed one problem I had with the old website – the bilingual content. Before the relaunch it was quite a hassle to publish all the articles and pages in both English and German. Now there is an easy way for me to administrate all this and you can swap between the languages (Deutsch / English) with just one mouse-click. That´s a really cool new feature for those who are bilingual. German visitors will see the German website automatically.
PS: If you need a new website yourself why not contact the web designer who designed my new site 🙂
When I read articles on the Internet that are posted in “green“ blogs or relevant coverage in the media I am always pleased to see how much the consciousness of European people has evolved since my youth with regards to the environment, organic food and green products. However, I can imagine that it is still a bold move for manufactures of organic or green products, who have secured their share in their domestic market with hard work, to expand their business operations into foreign markets. If they want to go into the German market they cannot possibly approach it with an English website and English promotional materials. Although a fair few Germans speak or at least read English they still won’t be very impressed if the supplier hasn’t taken the trouble to make life easier for them by communicating with them in German. Between those Germans who are put off and those who know no English a lot of business will be lost. Therefore, it is imperative to have all the marketing materials and websites translated properly and professionally.
But if the translator has no familiarity with the target market and/or no sympathy with “green” objectives how good will that translation be? What is needed is a “green” translator. Here is where I come into play. Although I am certainly not coloured green I do have a dark secret or, more accurately, a “dark green” secret! 😉
Back in the 1970s together with my then husband I opened the very first health food shop in Emden in Northern Germany called “Mutter Erde” (Mother Earth). This shop, which was one of the first of its type in the whole of Germany, was established and built up by our hard pioneer work. So successful was it that not only does it still exist but still has the same name and is on the same premises! If only life had not dragged me off elsewhere …
Mutter Erde then and today!
The first thing we had to do when we decided to open our health food shop was to convince the owner of the shop in the middle of the town that a health food shop was not a “Hippy-phantasm” but a business with a future and was not going to “die” after a few unsuccessful months. To convince him wasn’t easy but compared to the pioneering work we were in for after the opening it was a piece of organic cake! 😮
It was not enough just to set up the health food shop in accordance with all the statutory requirements applicable for a food shop. Nor was it enough to decorate the shop window in an appealing and inviting manner to lure in the good citizens of Emden to part with their hard-earned cash. These good citizens were, at that time, completely ignorant with regards to wholefood, ecology, health foods or any of the other green issues we are all so aware of nowadays. It was crucial to our survival that we inform and enlighten our prospective customers who strolled curiously into our shop. We had to explain all about health food products and the advantages of organically grown food and bio products with relevance to their personal health as well as for the future health of our planet. So we produced handouts such as “Six good reasons to start your day on organic muesli rather than white bread rolls”, “The benefits of wholemeal products and fresh salads for healthy digestion“, “Organically grown fruit & veggies are not only more healthy than conventionally grown products but also much more aromatic and tasty.” to name just a few. We set out plates of appetizingly arranged samples of all the organic products that could be portioned to “tasters” for people to try. Introductory prices and introductory offers were also part of our strategy. In addition we had free handouts with information regarding the affect of CFCs on the ozone layer of our planet and of the effects of chemical fertilisers on crops and soil. History appears to have proved us right.
But we didn’t stop there. I trained as a ‘Wholefood Nutritionist’ and after I had received my degree I taught as an accredited nutritionist in adult education centres on the nutritional aspects and preparation of wholefoods. In the shop I encouraged our customers to participate in my evening classes to not only broaden their own knowledge and learn new culinary skills but also to bring friends and family to “reform” them to a healthier diet. This was of course all very new and exciting at this time when ecological awareness was in its infancy.
Our customer base grew enormously by word of mouth due to the courses and due to the information and knowledge people received on the advantages and necessity of a wholefood diet for health and wellness.
I expect you now have a fair idea regarding my “greencredentials” and I would like to finish by saying that despite all the changes I have gone through in my life and career I have always kept to a wholefood diet consisting of organic produce. In addition I have been practicing a meditation technique and yoga for 35 years for personal development and as a provision against stress and its detrimental effects on the quality of life and professional efficiency. It goes without saying that my book shelves are filled with literature on all the fields I’ve mentioned here and that I am always up-to-date with the latest developments in the “green” sector.
I’m sure you can see why companies in the “green” sector comprise a fair slice of my client base nowadays for translation and proofreading. If your business is in the “saving the planet” business then maybe you’d like to join them. Just contact meif you have a translation or proofreading project you’d like me to take a look at.
Nowadays, the Internet not only provides access to the information we need but also offers the opportunity to have this information (sentences or even whole websites) translated into foreign languages or from a foreign language into one’s mother tongue free of charge. On the Internet you can find numerous free online translation tools, like the Google Translate and Yahoo Babel Fish translation systems, which you can use for a rough translation of a document to get an idea what this text is talking about.
However, even today’s most powerful and sophisticated translation software is not capable of even vaguely approaching the fluency of a native speaker or the accuracy and skills of a professional translator. Translation tools also throw up fundamental errors which a professional translator would never be prone to.
Although these machine translations can be quite useful if you want to get an idea of the contents or information in a foreign language text, their translations are useless when you want to express yourself in a foreign language (like in a personal letter) or want to convey some business or personal information. For an automatic machine translation to be accurate is very difficult, if not impossible, because the meaning of words always depends on the context in which they are used and this is too complex for translation software. A translation tool like Google Translate sometimes provides some rather “imaginative” translations as for example:
The English sentence, “Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today” translated into German as, „Nicht die lange Bank geschoben wird, was Sie tun können, heute“ and this German translation translated back into English will then read, “Not long will be shelved, what you can do today.” !?!?
„Der Gründer W. Herzog hat Transparenz in den Mittelpunkt der Produktbeschreibungen gestellt. So erhalten die Nutzer/Shopper neben Preis und Produktbild auch Informationen über den Nachhaltigkeitsfaktor der vorgestellten Produkte.“ translated into English: “The founder of W. Herzog has transparency at the heart of the Product made. To get the user / shopper addition to price and product image and information about the sustainability factor of the presented products.” This English translation translated back into German will then read: „Der Gründer von W. Herzog hat Transparenz in den Mittelpunkt des Produkts aus. Um die Benutzer / Shopper Neben Preis-und Produkt-Bild und Informationen über die Nachhaltigkeit von der präsentierten Produkte.“
As you can see the results of these translations are rather strange but with a bit of similar imagination you might just be able to figure out what the original sentences actually expressed. If you use this method of translating the text into the foreign language and then back into the source language you will be able to see to what extent the Google or Yahoo machine translation has garbled the translation and how much it actually reflects the original sense of a text.
It is quite obvious that you just cannot rely upon a machine translation system for documents which require an accurate and precise translation. If you need a flawless translation of an official document (e.g. business letter) or you need to make a good impression in a foreign language text such as a dissertation, a wedding speech, a personal letter or email to in-laws or friends who don’t speak your language – to mention only a few examples – then you should definitely use the services of a professional translator.
Unlike free online translation tools these services will need to be paid for and not everybody can afford the services of a translation agency. Translation agencies tend to focus predominantly on the needs of businesses and professional organisations and their pricing reflects that. I’d like to try and take that into account so that private individuals, like students or pensioners, don’t have to go without accurate, professional translations for their personal purposes. In order to do this, I am giving a special discounted rate for members of the private sector. All you need to do is to let me know that you are a student or that your text is a personal document when you contact me. You can email me via my Contact Formon my website (www.englishgerman.co.uk/) to ask for a freequotation.
Sometimes investing time and effort beyond an expected service does pay off in unusual ways. This happened when I was challenged with the translation of books on magic tricks for children which had been translated from several languages into English. As often happens with this kind of source material at best something had been “lost in translation” and at worst some sentences were completely mis-translated … all of which would have a devastating effect on the efforts of the poor little aspiring magician who is trying to follow the instructions. No doubt they would end up with their hands tied by a piece of rope with lots of knots in that cannot be undone. Instead of the little boy or girl stepping into the footsteps of the great escape artist Houdini they end up in tears of disappointment. So that left the poor translator – me – tearing my hair out trying to work out how to translate the wrong English into correct German instructions! In this situation there was nothing for it but to plunge in and try the tricks myself using the magic box provided by my client. When in doubt, I tried a trick over and over and … when I was pretty confident that I had got it right … I showed it to my partner. That means he spent a fair bit of time with his hands tied up in knots but I think he’s forgiven me! I also obtained confirmation of “my version” from my client who consulted their professional magicians to get the final okay or an amended version of the trick. By doing this for several weeks I quite got into “doing magic” – something I otherwise would never have been interested in – and I am determined to carry on practising some of the tricks with the aim of doing a little magic show at my nephews 11th birthday party! I’ve got the gear; I need to practice and then … Hocus Pocus … German Translator turns into German Magician!
I am a great cat lover. Although I don’t own one myself we have a regular visiting “day-cat” who comes over every morning when her owners (our neighbours) put her out and go off to work. She often stays with us until the evening. My translation work is naturally of little interest to her due mainly to the lack of food involved. However, it does mean that I am sitting in front of my PC for hours on end and she has the opportunity to lie on my lap and indulge in excessive sleeping! It is nice for me to look down and see this cute little creature curled up with her head and paws wrapped round in a little furry ball. It can be a nice little break from translating a dry technical text for instance. Although we obviously don’t speak the same language (despite a few feeble “Miau” copying attempts on my side ) there doesn’t seem to be a communication problem … when a cat wants something then the “human” will definitely get the message! You’ll get a very vivid example of how this works when you watch the little video above. Have fun!
Sometimes I get an “emergency job” which really requires some resourcefulness on my part in order to come up with a feasible solution for the client’s problem. This was the case when a theatre group contacted me because they had decided – a week before the debut performance of their latest play which was set in World War Two – that it would be more effective to have the lines spoken by the German soldiers spoken in German rather than in English.
Unfortunately for them, not only did none of them speak German but they didn’t even have the faintest idea how to pronounce the simplest words in German. So they asked me whether it was possible not only to get the lines translated into German but also to have a phonetic transcription of the individual words so they would have a better idea of how to pronounce them. I had no problem with their request but very much doubted that, even with a phonetic transcription, the actors would be able to make the lines sound really “German”.
Actors often spend a great deal of time with a voice coach before they can convincingly express themselves as a “native speaker” of that language and not just sound silly (like the Irish-sounding Greeks in Oliver Stone’s film of Alexander the Great for instance). So I tried to come up with something better than phonetic transcription. Fortunately my partner is a musician and came up with the wonderful suggestion of recording me speaking the lines. He would then turn the recording into a good quality but small sized audio file that could be emailed. This would enable the actors to hear a native speaker speaking the lines and give them the opportunity to try and copy my pronunciation. I got in touch with the group and asked them whether they were okay with handling MP3 files. They were and they were delighted to get a recording of the lines as well as the written translation … and at no extra charge. If there were any Germans in the audience then I’m sure they would have been impressed that the actors were not just speaking English with dodgy German accents!
Hi, my name is Johanne Ostendorf and as you probably know I am a German translator. I have decided to have this blog in addition to my website englishgerman.co.uk to have the opportunity to post articles around my job, about themes that I find of interest, funny stuff or just about thoughts I have. I hope you will enjoy what you find here and please feel free to leave as many comments as you like!