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  • Writer's pictureIan Mac Eochagáin

Why I don’t say “read more (in Finnish)”

The texts I translate often contain links to texts that haven’t been translated, by me or anyone else. This is common when I translate news articles for Suomen Yrittäjät, the Finnish SME association. Articles often contain links to other articles on the SY site or elsewhere which are only available in Finnish. An example would be: “Read more in this article we published last year about entrepreneur’s pension coverage”, with the linked article only available in Finnish.

My thinking has changed on how to translate this. Before, I’d add something to the translation: “Read more in this article (in Finnish)”. My thinking was to warn the reader about a text in a language they might not read. I thought that if the reader was reading this association’s materials in English, they mustn’t speak Finnish. What would the reader think when they clicked on the link and suddenly found an article not in English, as they were led to believe, but in Finnish?

I’ve changed my views on this. I now no longer mark the article as being in a language other than English. For one thing, I no longer want to insult the reader’s intelligence by assuming their linguistic skills. They could speak fluent Finnish for all I know. They could be a Finnish-speaker who’s happened upon the English translation. If the reader’s native language isn’t Finnish, the two words and the brackets (in Finnish) signal otherness, something sealed off, something implicitly not for the likes of the reader. That is not a message I want to convey. It goes back to a philosophy that Finnish is for Finns and English for foreigners, to the belief that no foreigner could ever learn Finnish. That is an association I most certainly do not want to invoke. Another, more practical, reason is the linked page could be supplemented with an English translation at some point and the link in my translation updated.

I now presume that no reader will be shocked by clicking a link and opening a page in a different language. The internet is multilingual, as are its readers.


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