Translators ruin good books.

On Christmas day, Santa gave me a very nice book about digital photography, by Michael Freeman. The book contains lots of interesting information and tips for the digital SLR photographer. The only problem with the book is, that the Dutch translation of it is absolutely terrible to read. The sentences do not “flow” naturaly, and almost feel as if they were litteraly translated word-by-word from the English version.

Because the book contains information I’m interested in, I tried a bit harder to read the kindergarten translation method by translating the sentences back to English in my head. Suddenly the book made much more sense. But every now and then, about once every page, the translators use Dutch words which I have never ever heard of, which often aren’t even close to the correct translation of the technical term originally used by the author.

An example: On page 23, the dutch word “conjugatie” is used. I never heard of this word so I looked it up in the dictionary, wikipedia and some other online sources. The word seems to be a mostly medical term, and can be a synonym for the Egnlish words “relation” or “connection”. This is realy strange, because the word is used in a text where the focal point is discussed.

Another example. On page 31, the Dutch term “fotosiet” is used. I couldn’t even find a definition of this word, but when searching for the Dutch word “siet”, I found that this word is used mostly in very old scripts, from the year 1700 to 1800, and the word is not used in normal Dutch nowadays.

All in all, John Degen and Ammerins Moss-de-Boer of “Deul & Spanjaard” should give up translating technical photography books like these. It is ruined. I’ll try to get an English copy of this book, and maybe even talk to Michael Freeman about the way this book is not fit for the Dutch market in the current translation.

Book information:

Title: Digitale Fotografie, de spiegelreflexcamera
Author: Michael Freeman
Translators: John Degen and Ammerins Moss-de-Boer
Translation Company: Deul & Spanjaard, Groningen
ISBN: 978-90-5764-637-9
Publisher: Libero

Do not buy the Duth version of this book!


3 Responses to Translators ruin good books.

  1. Joop says:

    I already got it… 😀
    But if you look at the content, and not at all individual words, it is a great book!

  2. rolfje says:

    Stopped reading the book. To…hard…to…read…sen…ten…ces. Must… Google… Every… 2nd… Paragraph…

    Anyway, I’m fairly irritated when reading this book. John and Ammerins failed to go through the trouble of translating “guide number” into “richtgetal”, but translated “key” to “sleutel”, while the writer means “tonaliteit” or “kleurtoon”. Sjeesz. Brain hurts.

    I can’t explain how irritated I get when I see that people ruin stuff by what seems to be details, but actually is a very important part of the look and feel of a product. The book is on the shelf, I figured I can Google this information quicker without the help of this piece of fireplace-fuel.

    Deul & Spanjaard should get an Internet connection, and bookmark I guarantee that they’ll do a 100% better job. No wait, stop translating altogether, and start a new career as envelope spunge, that’s harder to screw up.

  3. Hannah says:

    I was googling this book after seeing it in a store to see if I could get it cheaper online. That is how I found this blog.
    But thanks to you I now know I’d better look for it next month when I am in the US anyway.
    So thank you for this blog entry!!! xxx

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