Samuel Murray, Translator: English → Afrikaans, Afrikaans → English

Languages I translate from and into

I translate mostly from English into Afrikaans, but also from Afrikaans into English.


English

The variety of English used in South Africa is very similar to what might be generally understood by speakers of both the United Kingdom and the United States. South Africans generally like to believe that their English is standard British English.

When I'm called upon to translate from Afrikaans into English (which I sometimes do), then the type of English I use is the so-called South African English, except that I take care to avoid localisms or idiomatic expressions that are not generally known outside South Africa. I can usually identify those elements in South African English that should be avoided for an international audience.

Although I'm aware of the fact that native speakers of South African English often use Afrikaans words when speaking informally, I would not do that when translating into English unless the text is very specifically informal and very specifically aimed at a South African target audience.

Afrikaans

The written Afrikaans language is pretty much standardised, with very little dialectical variation. Sociolects and geolects do exist, but Standard Afrikaans is usually expected in written texts. Afrikaans is one of those languages that benefit from an "official" language board, whose pronouncements are almost always respected by the Afrikaans media, schools and other institutions.

When writing Afrikaans, I follow the latest edition of the official spelling rules closely (the publication is called "Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls").

There is no official web site for the Afrikaans spelling rules. However, I'm so confident in my knowledge of the Afrikaans spelling rules that I had created an unofficial web site for the Afrikaans spelling rules, which was linked from the official publisher's own web site in a prominent place, without me having requested it.

Afrikaans speaking people often live and work alongside English speaking neighbours, and therefore Afrikaans is sometimes influenced by English usage. For this reason, people who are not professional language workers may sometimes accept non-Afrikaans constructions as "normal". That said, many forms of usage in Afrikaans have over many decades been influenced by English, and some of those have become acceptable or even Standard Afrikaans.

Dutch

I do not consider myself a Dutch translator. I can't speak Dutch nor can I write it. I can't spot spelling mistakes and typos in Dutch.

However, I can read Dutch writing such as fiction and newspaper articles as easily as I do English and Afrikaans. I have daily exposure to Dutch, through online Dutch news media and Dutch television. My wife is Dutch, and she and my children live in the Netherlands. I'm in the process of emigrating there myself.

I'm very familiar with the differences between Dutch and Afrikaans, and I can spot Dutchisms in Afrikaans and English (translated from Dutch by other translators), or mistranslations of Dutch committed by Afrikaans translators who believe that a dictionary is all that is necessary to translate Dutch idiomatic language usage.

Therefore, I am willing to translate from Dutch into English or Afrikaans, or to review translations from Dutch into Afrikaans, if the client is aware of my limitations.

On Afrikaans localisation

Software and web sites have only recently been translated into Afrikaans. Speakers of Afrikaans tend to use English words mixed into their language when speaking, but will try to use existing or create new Afrikaans words when writing. For this reason the nomenclature of Afrikaans computer jargon is not as fixed as it is in English, for example. Different translators may use different words for the same thing.

Free software, shareware and Linux related software have been translated into Afrikaans for a number of years. Microsoft is a late-comer in Afrikaans localisation, and for this reason the terminology used in the Afrikaans versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista do not necessarily reflect the widely accepted computer terms usage in Afrikaans. In fact, after I complained about the quality of Windows XP in a public document, I was later asked to be the chief translator for Windows Vista into Afrikaans.

There is a measure of standardisation among Linux translators, translators of free software, and translators of non-public software. When I localise, I try to use those "standardised" forms that has been accepted in the field, or I create new terms using a conservative, clearheaded approach, based on my knowledge of Afrikaans computer terminology creation and accepted Afrikaans word creation principles.

I have regular interaction and discussions with other localisers, including translators of free and open source software.

It sometimes happens that a certain word form becomes popular in the translation industry, only to be deprecated by the official language board of Afrikaans a few years later. The opposite also happens, when a spelling rule that was popular in the localisation industry is rescinded in a new edition of the official spelling rules.

* back to top *


π