Wednesday, 29 April 2009

More translator-babble

While proofreading a legal document translated into English by a Polish translator, I found myself confronted with the puzzling phrase 'under pain of nullity'*. Now, I'm not a legal expert (shh - don't tell anyone I translate for), and the legislative world has a way of coming up with phrases that sound downright weird in plain English, so I googled it to check. The results were an entertaining wake-up call on not trusting what you read in the dictionary:

Item 1: a google search reveals confusion over the pain of nullity:



Item 2:
Polish translator no 1 asks for English version of phrase on forum. Polish translator no 2 offers
solution. Everybody happy.


Item no 3:
Confused English contractor, in receipt of a Polish-translated contract, goes online to check what it all means...



Does anyone else find this funny? Or have I just retreated into my own little translator world...





* (In Dalek voice: 'You will be deleted... you will be deleted...)

8 comments:

peixote said...

I belive the expression is no longer used in English law (and generally common law systems) but was once commonplace. It seems to have been given a second life as the translation of the Polish "pod rygorem nieważności" or Italian "a pena di nullita`/inefficacia".

It just means that something (a contract or an amendment to a contract)is not valid unless something (it is executed in writing, signed by both parties and the parties` spouses, printed on pink paper etc).

peixote said...

"Believe" that is.

Bartek Usniacki said...

going deeper into google results one can find the phrase is used, but should be considered rather obsolete... "invalid unless" wouldn't probably sound so awkward...

PS. I'm not an expert in legal English (nor legal Polish!!!), but after few years of learning English my primary piece of advice for both students and translators is: do not trust dictionaries - the ones edited by Poles without co-operation with knowledgeable native English speakers are full of misrepresentations, false friends, word for word translations, etc., what makes them unreliable for advanced learners and translators and then might lead up to misunderstandings like this one - therefore rather disturbing than funny

In a word - załamka ;)

pinolona said...

Peixote - I found a second opinion on the translator website and basically worked out that it would be null and void unless provided in writing. I paraphrased (the subject required clarification anyway).
Which is worse, Italian or Polish legal documentation?! I'm not sure I can tell... :/

Bartek: yes, Google is definitely to be used with care! You can always find hits for any phrase, but the websites they're used on are normally a clue to how reliable the translation is...

I am indeed in possession of one of those electronic dictionaries published by a Polish company, quite possibly without the help of a corresponding English team. Some of the English translations are a little strange to say the least. Scarily, an interpreter friend gave it to me.

Oh and it's not always our fault as well: sometimes the translator writes back and says that a particular phrase has to be used because the client likes it that way (even if it's slightly odd in English).

And - worryingly enough - the Polish translation in the second screen shot is from a - generally well moderated, at least in French, English, Italian - translator and interpreter forum...

Dalek Kaled said...

I find it funny!!!

Pinolona, go to Tandem Singing for Fun at Awaria tomorrow or you will be exterminated.

pinolona said...

hahaha .... I was thinking of going salsa dancing instead :)

Anonymous said...

That's all nothing!
Few years ago when you wrote in Google "nie douczone"/not educated Google suggested: "Czy chodziło Ci o nie dupczone?" / Did you mean "not fucked"? hahaha
Now, they changed it!

old link:

http://patrz.pl/zdjecia/id/16601

Anonymous said...

By the way: at the top of this linked page is... Pino TV!!! :D