Posts Tagged translation

Can I give the BESA with an Assistant if I don’t Speak Spanish?

I’ve been asked this question a couple of times now, the most recent was a few days ago, so I thought I’d write about it here. The bottom line is YES, WITH TRAINING. But, let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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When working with bilingual children, it is a matter of course that one will need to translate from one language to another. Children who are English language learners may need instructions or directions translated so that they can know what to do. Curricula may need to be translated to maximize learning. Tests are also translated for ease of assessment of knowledge in a given domain. In the area of speech and language assessment however, translation is not the best option.  Read the rest of this entry »


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Happy 4th of July

It’s the 4th of July, US Independence! So what can I write about that has to do with bilingualism? The US Constitution of course. Did you know that the Constitution was translated to Dutch in 1788? After the Declaration of Indepedence in 1776 and the end of the revolutionary war in 1781, the Constitution was written to establish the form of the US federal government. In order to adopt the Constitution, a majority of states had to approve– or ratify the document. There was a large Dutch population in the state of New York, so in order for the population to understand the language of the Constitution, it was translated to Dutch. This translation is credited for convincing the people of New York to join the US.

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Are we what we say?

I’ve continued to read Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. Because it’s non-fiction, I tend to read it in fits and spurts and I jump around from chapter to chapter. I also have pink post-its stuck in pages here and there– I almost never do this with books I read for pleasure (maybe it reminds me of work– where I use virtual post-its in iAnnotate). Anyway, on page 286 here is what Tan writes:

Even more dangerous, in my view, is the temptation to compare both language and behavior in translation.

Here, I think she is talking about making assumptions about what someone thinks based on what they say– or more specifically, based on errors they make in their second language. At the same time, I’m intrigued by the pairing of language and behavior in the context of translation. You see, language is more than the words– more than linguistic equivalence. It is how those words are used in a given cultural context. How those words may or may not match up with actions, facial expressions, and gestures. Read the rest of this entry »

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On Translation

After almost 10 years, I am reading Amy Tan’s book, “The Opposite of Fate” a memoir. I have always enjoyed Tan’s writing and I have enjoyed this book very much. With her linguistics background she has great insight to her own writing process and to the ways that people around her use language. One of the parts that I connected with is her description of the ways her own awareness of two languages and what it means. Read the rest of this entry »

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Accidental Translation

I read this story about the bus accident in Arizona and how a boy, 11 years old, translated for paramedics and firefighters at the scene. In what was most likely total chaos and confusion, and despite his own injuries, this child translated for people who were injured so that the rescue workers could do their jobs. Wow!

Is translation that remarkable? I would say yes. Partly, because it’s hard to do (and partly because I’m not so good at it). But first, some terms. Although typically we think about both written and oral translation as translation, these involve different, related processes. Typically translation refers to conversion of one written language to another. And interpretation refers to listening to one language and producing what is heard in the other (more on these differences here).

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Translation– the other side of the tapestry

That’s what Cervantes is to have have expressed. And I think it provides a nice mental picture of translation.

A recent story in the Mercury News discusses the need for qualified translators in the Los Angeles court system. At the same time a recent blog posted a reaction to another blog soliciting translation of the Mexican firearms statute presumably by untrained translators. Can bilinguals who have no training in translation accurately translate? Does it matter what they’re translating and who will read it? Is translation really that hard? Read the rest of this entry »

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