The importance of being …

…consistent in how we use the written word in a knitting pattern is frequently neglected and this can lead the reader/knitter to many a confusing situations. Well, as you may have guessed, today’s post is going to be about the frustrations I have faced when knitting from a pattern that was poorly translated from one language to the other.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not going to judge. I know first-hand how difficult and time-consuming it is to “get under the authors’ skin” and transfer his/her words into another language. I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years from and into four languages: Greek, English, French and Spanish. The process fascinates me in ways I can’t begin to describe, yet it can confuse me and have me staring at a word for hours for the fear of not doing it justice, can you believe it?

Working with words for so long means one loves to communicate and deliver “the message” to the reader in the best possible way, bearing in mind that, sometimes, what makes perfect sense in English may be ridiculously senseless in Spanish or Greek. This is a dilemma we all face when translating a “freeform” text, one with no technical details, which means less decisions for the translator to make.

What happens when translating a knitting pattern to or from English to another language is, in my humble opinion, a whole different story. English language knitting (and crochet) patterns are very well written, mostly because the English language has been used for writing this type of text for so long that it can be said it “leads the path towards” writing a knitting pattern.

Translated into Greek by yours truly.

Knitting and crochet terms have been established in the many years that knitting patterns, magazines and books have been published in English and it is obvious that knitting pattern authors have to master the English way of writing down their instructions if they want their patterns to result into numerous, successful knitting projects. Yet, do they have to imitate the structure and expressions of an English language pattern when writing down a pattern in Greek, French or Spanish? Well, the answer is definitely NO.

The purpose of any translated text is to convey the information in the most effective way to the reader, so the translator has to bear in mind that the French-speaking knitter makes no sense out of a text full of arbitrarily-conceived abbreviations, because, let’s face it, French is not a brief, technical language, quite the opposite. For the purpose to be served, one has to make a few decisions before translating the text, do some research to find out which terms are most commonly used among the knitters/crocheters (and maybe understand why they are so popular) and then make the necessary adjustments in terminology. Once the “style sheet” has been decided, all that’s left is to remain consistent in one’s choices.

Translated into Greek by yours truly

Consistency in the terms used makes the text coherent (aka understandable) and helps the reader/knitter enjoy working on their project. Consistency brings out a feeling of security to the reader/knitter and this is something a beginner is really thankful for and a veteran appreciates. I don’t know if I make any sense with this post, but in a way it explains why I have translated only few of my own patterns. It takes a lot of time to do it properly and I simply cannot have it any other way. I had the pleasure and the honour to translate these two very well-written reference books into the Greek language, though, and I think of it as a far more important contribution to the Greek knitting/crocheting community.

2 thoughts on “The importance of being …

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