The Translation Inquirer

New Queries

John Decker

(Danish>English 9-15.1) Lønspecifikation appeared on a pay statement, followed by such itemized components as ADSL compensation, Værde af fri telefon, and Overførsel Danica Pensionsselskab, each with its own numerical code. It’s not those, but what came before the initial word that proved troublesome: La. The entire list begins with La Lønspecifikation. What could that be?

(English>Bulgarian 9-15.2) Nothing really stood out in terms of difficulty in this sentence until the final two words: “Same highly significant performance for both advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis regardless of ethnicity, HBeAg status, viral load, gender, or ALT transaminase level, according to meta-analysis of 8 studies and 1,842 patients with paired biopsy.” Try those final two words—in Bulgarian.

(English>Hungarian 9-15.3) The context regarding the term “exhaust blower” is nonexistent in this query. Of course, how many opportunities do Hungarian linguists get in this column to try their hand? Go for it!

(English>Russian 9-15.4) You probably know what noun almost always follows the adjective “pre-existing,” but we will make no premature assumptions. This query about health insurance in Ontario, Canada, contained the phrase “pre-existing—90 days (with grandfathering for current eligible students).” How would you express “pre-existing” in Russian? (The Translation Inquirer would have thought that “grandfathering” would have been equally difficult, but found this was not the case.)

(English>Spanish 9-15.5) I have lived all these years having no concept of what “chased glass” is, but I suppose I will find out by the end of 2015. The translator posting this query learned that there is a certain rusticity inherent to this product, and in the highly specialized means by which certain rare masters carry on the tradition of making it. What is it?

(English>Swedish 9-15.6) The translator referred to this piece of hardware as a component of a printer, perhaps an arkmätare för register (flikar). The item in question was a “tab sheet feeder.” Any ideas?

(French>Spanish [English] 9-15.7) In a medical context, what are we to make of grand appareillage de marche?

(French>Italian [English] 9-15.8) The apparent maxim or saying faire de tes dix doigts is the only thing standing in the way of perfect comprehension of the two sentence below (a request and a reply).

  • Request: J’ai froid, j’ai faim, je voudrais un peu de thé s’il vous plait.
  • Response: Si tu ne sais pas quoi faire de tes dix doigts, va au diable, il n’y a pas de place pour toi ici.

(German>English 9-15.9) This one should not be too difficult, but the important thing is a concise but correct rendering of the three words in bold: Bei unzureichender Wirksamkeit kann die tägliche Dosis auf maximal 4 Tabletten erhöht werden.

(Italian>English 9-15.10) What aspect of educational practice or policy is being conveyed by the three words in bold? Here is the context: gli ausili didattici come le schede di recupero o i libri di testo facilitati.

(Italian>French [English] 9-15.11) A histology report contained the following: Frammento inorientabile di tessuto di colorito giallastro delle dimensioni di cm …, sede al taglio di formazione rotondeggiante…. Di cm 0,6 (1 – 1 1 CS T.I.). What to make of this? If you decode the acronym, the entire thing will become windowpane-clear.

(Russian>English 9-15.12) The compulsion to abbreviate when designating electrical components is clearly overwhelming. In this case, дк proved to be a barrier to understanding the following: Кабельный ввод, полиамид М20 х 1,5 дк 7-13. I can make a guess about this but won’t.

(Spanish>English 9-15.13) This may have been part of a back-translation that was not labeled as such, but in any case the context is a request for proposals or bids. The last seven words in the sentence proved difficult: En este contexto, se suscribió un convenio de colaboración entre la Organización y la USAID para el otorgamiento de una cooperación educativa razonable, con cargos a la fuente de financiamiento.” What’s this all about?

Replies to Old Queries

(English>Romanian 5-15.4) (silica-based spun filter method): Andreea Boscor offers un kit (pachet) care pretinde că poate izola genomul ADN din orice mostră … printr-o metodă de filtrare prin centrifugare cu silicat. Note the correction from page 37 of the July-August issue.

(English>Russian 3-14.4) (pendent lite): Ganna Gudkova says that this is a Latin term meaning “awaiting litigation” or “pending litigation.” An order bearing this name is often used to provide support for the lower-income spouse while the legal process moves ahead. The probable Russian would be ходатайство о временной выплате алиментов.

(English>Russian 6-15.4) Paul Merriam says that it is possible that this term has a different meaning in states other than Virginia. In Virginia, if the probate is handled improperly, a bond is required to pay for the value of the estate. It may be necessary to post a security to secure this obligation. Paul translated this as без письменного обязательства или залога.

(German>English 8-14.4) (Ungehorsamsbusse): Ilse Andrews is again commenting on the spelling of this query. (He first did so in the January 2015 issue.) Spelling reforms can make life difficult, like the Swiss one that eliminated the esszett in the word above. Modern German readers will read the reformed spelling—the last five letters of it—as the plural of “bus” (the transit vehicle), thus producing a comical word. Busse has the transit meaning, but Buße means “penalty,” and exists only in the form with the letter now forbidden in Swiss German.

(German>English 5-15.8) (Veranlagungsfreibetrag): Ilse Andrews surmises that the translator who posed this query was using machine translation, especially since it is very easy to research the two nouns from which this word is composed. Veranlagung is “tax assessment” and Freibetrag (separated from its predecessor by only an “s”) is “amount of exemption.”

(German>Hungarian [English] 6-15.5) (Vorgelegt): In this context, says Imre Takacs, the word means “charged” or “charged in advance.” Example: “The flask was charged with xxx, yyy, zzz.”

(German>Italian [English] 6-15.6) (Nachsiedlung): While the first sentence talks about a settlement destroyed by the Abyssinians toward the end of the third century, the second sentence, as Alessandra Levine points out, mentions subsequent settlements in the fifth and sixth centuries. Therefore, she would translate the target words as insediamento successivo in Italian. Kathleen Morris offered “later settlement,” “ancillary settlement,” or “isolated settlement” for this.

(Italian>English 6-15.7) (disegna, progetta): Alessandra Levine states that both verbs in the sentence are in the third person singular and refer to what the Italian company does. While they are similar in meaning, disegna usually means “draws or designs,” while progetta usually means “plans or creates.” She would translate these three words as “designs, creates, and manufactures.”

(Russian>English 5-15.11) (импортзаменяющая продукция): Scott Elsworth has not seen this term used in Russian, but remembers learning about “import substitution” in college. With the ruble having fallen in value, it must be desirable to have a local product. A really literal translation would be “import-substituting product,” and a more natural variant would be “non-imported product or domestic product.”

(Russian>English 7-15.8) (телефонная трескотня) Eugenia Sokolskaya calls this “static,” or, if the translator wants to be more explicit, “telephone static.”

(Spanish>English 7-15.9) (válvula titilante): Sharlee Merner Bradley thinks this could be a “flutter valve.” Federico Beigbeder Atienza published a work entitled the Nuevo Diccionario politécnico de las lenguas española e inglesa, in which she found titilación defined as “flutter.”

In the Translation Inquirer’s opinion, the new incarnation of this column is off to a good start. Thank you for contributing!

(E-mail queries and responses by the first of each month to  with the subject line: The Translation Inquirer. Generous assistance from Per Dohler, proofreader, is gratefully acknowledged.)

3 Responses to "The Translation Inquirer"

  1. Manuela Francavilla says:

    Italian>English 9-15.10: ‘Schede di recupero’. The word ‘scheda’ is widely used in Italian not only in the educational world but also in journalism, law, economics… and even papyrology (see the online dictionary “” here: In all of those fields, ‘scheda’ refers to a ‘piece of paper with some kind of information on it.

    In this case -in the school system- and as the context makes it very clear, ‘schede’ refer to extra pages or extra photocopies of exercises for the students to use in order to learn the scholastic material. Indeed, “schede di recupero” are often photocopies that teachers give/assign to students in order for them to catch up for the lost or not well learn material.
    For example: 1. A student gets bad grades and risks having to repeat the same grade next year. 2. At the end of the year, the teacher will give the student some ‘schede di recupero’ with exercises in those troubled subjects. 3. The students will have the summer to learn the material with the help of the ‘schede di recupero’. 4. At the end of the summer and before the next academic year start, the student will have to show if s/he learned the material by passing a text or exam; the student will be judged and, if ready, s/he will be allowed to go to the next level/grade (or repeat the previous if not ready).

    There are other ways to use the ‘schede di recupero’ during the academic year in class but the goal is again to ‘recuperare’ make up, improve.

    I hope it’ll be useful.

    One more thing: when I received the paper copy of the ATA Chronicle I was a little upset for not seeing ‘The Translator Inquier’… I am very glad to see it here. I think having it on line is a very good move!


    Manuela Francavilla

  2. Manuela Francavilla says:

    French>Italian [English] 9-15.8. Given the context I understand that ‘there is no place for those the lazy ones.’ To check on my intuition, I looked up the word ‘doigt’ in the ”Le Petit Robert, Dictionnaire de la langue francaise” (1993, Montreal, Canada; see page 671, towards the end of the second column). It does support my understanding: “Ne rien faire, ne rien savoir faire de ses dix doigts: etre oisif [italics in the dictionary because is an example], etre incapable.”

    Sorry for not using the right accents on the French….


  3. Henry Jackson says:

    Re. Query 9-15.9: Absent sufficient efficacy

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