Confessions of a translator

In preparing and writing the Swedish text on this site, I find myself doing exactly the opposite of what I preach!

GooglskaWell, perhaps not exactly the opposite, but close. Swedish is not my mother tongue. My first language is English – but I recognise I need to use both English and Swedish to clearly describe the services I offer. I anticipate that most of my potential customers will be Swedish speakers and will have Swedish as their first language. They will be most likely to search for a translator, a copy editor, a trainer or whatever in Swedish. I want to be sure of reaching the widest audience, so I need to have a Swedish language presence.

How to do that? My solution is to parallel the descriptions I am writing in English with Swedish descriptions. So, in the black bar under the heading of the site you’ll find clickable buttons for both Services and Tjänster. Among the blog entries describing my services in more detail you’ll find, for example, Swedish to English translation service next to Översättning från svenska till engelska.

The Core of the Poodle
But how to achieve the Swedish translations? Here we come to the core of the poodle. (That’s a Swedish idiom BTW!)

First of all I write a draft in English …

English

Swedish to English translation
No, I don’t translate from English to Swedish!

… trying it out in Swedish in my head.

Svengelska

Svenska till Engelska översättning
Nej, jag översätta inte från engelska till svenska!

(Yes, that sounds OK. 🙂 )

Then I use Google to translate it sentence by sentence.

Googlska

Svenska till engelska
Nej, jag översätter jag inte från engelska till svenska!

(What happened to ‘translation’ in the first line? Google ate it!)

Then I run the Swedish text through the spelling and grammar checker in my Swedish edition of MS Word.

MSWordska

Svenska till engelska översättningar
Nej, jag översätter jag inte från engelska till svenska!

(Word did not rest till I’d put back ‘översättningar’ into the first line, but didn’t blink at the double ‘jag’ in the second line.)

Then I present it to a native Swedish speaker who throws her hands up in horror and helps me re-write the text.

Svenska

Översättning från svenska till engelska.
Tyvärr kan jag inte hjälpa dig med översättning från engelska till svenska.

Finally I back-translate to English to make sure the English and the Swedish harmonise – so I’m not promising different things in Swedish and English.

English back translation

Swedish to English translation
Unfortunately I cannot help you translate texts from English to Swedish.

(Fantastic!)

Of course, it would be a great deal more effective if I wrote the original in good English first and then employed a Swedish translator to put it into good Swedish for me … but this way I get to spend lots of time thinking about the services (and tjänster) I’m offering. At this early stage in the firm’s relaunch that’s probably time well spent.

I’m not encouraging YOU to do this! Oh, good heavens no! Come to me with your good Swedish texts and let me translate them for you!

But if you prefer to do as I do rather than as I say, come to me with your ‘Sw-english’ texts and let me be your sounding board, your text editor, your ball plank. (Another Swedish idiom there.)

Hire me to work with you. Together we can express your ideas in real English (rather than Swenglish or Googlish or MSWordish).


^ Pudelns kärna = The core of the poodle. The real, true centre of anything. The dog inside all the poodle’s hair. (Actually this Swedish idiom comes from Goethe’s Faust: “Das also war des Pudels Kern!” See the Swedish Wikipedia entry.)

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