As I’ve mentioned before, a translator looks stuff up. All the time. Stuff they don’t know and need to find about, stuff they vaguely know about but want to check and even, occasionally, the meaning of a word or phrase they know perfectly well but just feel the need to see in black and white!
But recently, I’ve come across a problem. Very often, there are companies, products and web pages whose names or titles are the word I’m looking up. I can tell I might have lost you here. An example:
I was translating the Dutch phrase ‘het siert ze dat ze…’, literally ‘it adorns them that they…’. Now, I knew that the phrase I wanted in English was ‘it’s to their credit that they…’ but when I searched ‘credit’, all I got was credit cards, companies called Credit, debt collectors, government agencies… you get the idea. And this is not an isolated case. It happens all the time. And okay, I realise that some of the words I might be looking up are really quite ubiquitous (ooh, there used to be a great restaurant in Glasgow called The Ubiquitous Chip) but still. The dictionary, collocation and etymology sites are sliding ever downward towards oblivion!
Anyone else noticed this or is it just me?