Dutch Translation in Practice


Dutch Translation in Practice
By Jane Fenoulhet and Alison E. Martin
Routledge – £29.99

Routledge’s Dutch Translation in Practice is luckily, thankfully, definitely one of the finest modern Dutch translation books I’ve ever come across. Reason being, there books to learn languages by and then there are terrific books to really learn languages by.

And this is unquestionably that of the second persuasion; although why I say this is a little hard to pinpoint and fundamentally fathom.

Perhaps it’s the book’s layout and overall feel, or Jane Fenoulhet and Alison E. Martin’s distinctive approach in reflecting several areas of contemporary life (such as literature and culture, finance and employment, art history and communications) throughout the book, which accounts for its substantial resonance.

Either way, each of the nine chapters – not including an Introduction (‘Getting Started’) and Conclusion (‘Revising your Translation’) – are simplistically well-constructed and that of acute useful use, to students of Dutch and the translation thereof. As Erna Eagar, of the University of Cambridge makes clear: ”This book is a clearly structured, very detailed and pedagogically sound approach to translating. It takes into consideration the ever changing position of the English speaker and the effect this has on translating from a smaller language to a bigger one. This makes it a very good book for anyone interested in improving and updating their translation skills or any teacher wanting to use a comprehensive approach in their translating course.”

Its ”sound approach” does indeed account for it being ”a very good book.”For instance, in the chapter ‘People and Places,’under the sub-heading ‘Translating for the web,’ the authors actively engage and reach out to the reader/student with a clear-cut analysis, that is both informative and easy to digest: ”Even where you are translating across a cultural boundary and assuming the role of cultural mediator, make sure that you do not overload the translated web text with unnecessary cultural information. For example, footnotes are out of the question.”

In and of itself, I never knew footnotes were out of the question! Even if I have sometimes fallen foul of cultural overload.

Such evident, sensible connection, partially explains why a particular language learning curve can sometimes go the wrong way. Or simply be out of reach, as Messrs. Fenoulhet and Martin continue: ”Furthermore, you may find that you need to leave some elements of meaning implicit in translation, rather than spell everything out. You should also eliminate repetition and redundant elements.”

One has to agree that in repetition, there can always be an element of (shared) repetitious discourse; the very explanation of which is in constant need of being different, told differently, or at least contained within a different trail of analytical thought. Might it be said that this applies to any form of learning- not just that of another language. Although practice does indeed make permanent.

Replete with authentic extracts drawn from up-to-date Dutch texts and attention to language areas of particular difficulty (certain passive constructions, separable verbs, conjunctions and punctuation), Dutch Translation in Practice really does provide for both an engaging and more than accessible course in modern Dutch translation. With the emphasis on modern.

So far as learning and the translation of the Dutch language is concerned, to refer to this book as important and necessary, would be a profound understatement.

David Marx


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