METM19 presentation 

Translating pseudo-English

Lloyd Bingham, Cardiff, UK

Pseudo-English can cause a real headache for translators and editors working in English. While it might be “cool” to drop English words into other languages, the meaning is often corrupted, leaving us translators and editors scratching our heads.

As seasoned professionals, we know not to take source-language terms borrowed from English at face value, as this presents a real obstruction to clear communication. But how do we categorize pseudo-English and translate it into correct English?

This presentation will first look at the accelerating trend of other languages giving English words new meanings that you won’t find in the dictionary, and how we can translate these phrases accurately and idiomatically. Real-life examples will be taken from my own practice in French, German, Spanish and Dutch into English translation, with references to academic literature on the topic. The learning points will be applicable to translators of other languages into English, as well as English-language editors.

The audience will be invited to offer their ideas on solutions to the examples of pseudo-English presented, and also asked to venture examples they have come across and explain how they translated them. English-language professionals will not only come away with greater awareness of the issue of pseudo-English and how to identify it and categorize it, but they will also take away ideas to make their texts clearer and arguments to use to justify their translation choices to their clients.

About the presenter

Lloyd Bingham runs Capital Translations in Cardiff, UK. A former in-house translator, he works from German, Dutch, French and Spanish into English, specializing in business, marketing, technology and education. Lloyd is a qualified member of the UK’s Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Society of English-language professionals in the Netherlands (SENSE). He is also a tutor on ITI’s Starting Up as a Freelance Translator course.