Sunday, 10 June



Tony Parr & Marcel Lemmens, Identifying and rectifying translatorese (workshop-style)


Wikipedia defines translatorese as ‘Stilted or unidiomatic language produced by automated translation’. And it is labelled as ‘pejorative’. Well, yes, of course. But we believe translatorese is not restricted to automatically produced translations. Human translators may produce wooden and unnatural translations too. The question is: What makes a translation stilted, wooden, unnatural, or unidiomatic? How can you recognise translatorese in human translations? And how should you deal with it?

In this workshop-style presentation we will present the findings from a one-day course in ‘repairing translatorese’ that we organized in 2017. We will focus on what a group of professional Dutch into English and English into Dutch translators consider stilted or unidiomatic language and will discuss our analysis of how they repair it. Do they practise what they preach? Do they intervene too much or too little? Is it possible to reach consensus on what is and is not translatorese?

The goal of this presentation is to raise awareness of translatorese and the consequences of literal translation on readability, and to trigger a discussion about the scope of a revisor’s job.

‘In the final analysis, give preference to the reader’s needs over the client’s demands’ (Brian Mossop).


About the presenters

Tony ParrTony Parr (top) and Marcel Lemmens (bottom) are professional business translators and translator trainers. Both have extensive experience as translators (both freelance and in-house) and as teachers of translation, principally at the National College of Translation in Maastricht. They are the authors of Handboek voor de Vertaler Nederlands–Engels. Operating under the name of Teamwork, they have been organising courses, workshops and conferences for language professionals in the Netherlands since 1993.




Marcel Lemmens