How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

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aquarius
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How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby aquarius » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:58 pm

I've found the following text in Slovak. I've first tried to understand as much as possible on my own, then I've looked at the translation by google translate.

http://stridertrpg1.weebly.com/vscarone ... acute.html

. AKO (NE)PÍSAŤ POSTY
Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty. Ale často sa stane, že nevedia písať posty a tak to nemá vyzerať. Ak už viete TRPG hrať, toto téma s čistým svedomím môžete preskočiť. Posty píšeme minimálne štvorriadkové, aby sme predišli že celý príbeh sa bude skladať z jednoriadkových postov, ktoré vám nič o sebe nepovedia. To ako píšete vás vidia hráči, vaše posty sú vaše vizitky.

. HOW (NOT) TO MAKE POSTS
People would like to be able to write posts. But it often happens that they can't write posts and so it doesn't look like it. If you can already play TRPG, you can skip this topic with a clear conscience. We write posts at least four lines to prevent the story from being composed of one-line posts that tell you nothing about themselves. The way you write players see you, your posts are your business cards.

I've got some remaining questions concerning the Slovak text, and I would be happy if you could help me.

(1) “Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty.” Does this literally mean “People would like to be able to write posts.”, or does this rather mean “People think that they are able to write posts”?

(2) “... a tak to nemá vyzerať.” I haven't understood this.

(3) “To ako píšete vás vidia hráči...” I think that the English translation correctly renders the sense, but I haven't understood yet the construction of the Slovak sentence.

What's the meaning of 'to', and what part of speech is it? At first sight, I'd say that it is the nominative neuter singular of the demonstrative pronoun “this”, but in this case I would have expected it to be a subject of a sentence. However, “vidia” seems to refer to “hráči”, and not to “to”.

And is the syntax of the English sentence "The way you write players see you, ..." correct?
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Vero » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:33 am

Hi Aquarius,

I'm not Slovak but I'm Czech so I think I can help you :)

[1] The meaning is more "people would like to know how to write posts..."

[2] This means literally "And this is how it shouldn't look like"

[3] The whole blue part means "The way you write is how the players see you".

'To' - stands for "the way", it's the subject of the sentence, both in Czech and Slovak "to" is neutrum, neutral subject that can be used if you don't want to repeat the whole expression you are referring to

'vidia' = they see, it's the verb for subject "players" (hráči)
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Cavesa » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:58 pm

(1) “Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty.” Does this literally mean “People would like to be able to write posts.”, or does this rather mean “People think that they are able to write posts”?

(2) “... a tak to nemá vyzerať.” I haven't understood this.

(3) “To ako píšete vás vidia hráči...” I think that the English translation correctly renders the sense, but I haven't understood yet the construction of the Slovak sentence.

What's the meaning of 'to', and what part of speech is it? At first sight, I'd say that it is the nominative neuter singular of the demonstrative pronoun “this”, but in this case I would have expected it to be a subject of a sentence. However, “vidia” seems to refer to “hráči”, and not to “to”.

And is the syntax of the English sentence "The way you write players see you, ..." correct?

Vero wrote:Hi Aquarius,

I'm not Slovak but I'm Czech so I think I can help you :)

[1] The meaning is more "people would like to know how to write posts..."

[2] This means literally "And this is how it shouldn't look like"

[3] The whole blue part means "The way you write is how the players see you".

'To' - stands for "the way", it's the subject of the sentence, both in Czech and Slovak "to" is neutrum, neutral subject that can be used if you don't want to repeat the whole expression you are referring to

'vidia' = they see, it's the verb for subject "players" (hráči)


Another Czech (but with tons of Slovak comprehension experience. studying medicine is like a permanent Slovak Erasmus, as they are approximately one third of the population at the faculty and never bother to learn Czech). I cannot fully agree.

[1] I cannot fully agree with Vero, I think Aquarius is closer. People would like to know to write posts. To be able to. "viem písať" means "I can write", that's the same thing. Of course that being able to write the posts means knowing how to do it. But the sentence is about the ability, not about theoretical knowledge.

[2] And this is what it shouldn't look like. Or And that's not the way it should look. Literally, there is "how" and Vero's word to word translation is true, but the normal way to translate between Slovak/Czech and English includes this problem. Writing "how does it look like" instead of "what does it look like" is an extremely common English mistake made by natives of languages like Slovak (or Czech). I suppose the same thing causes a problem for the English natives in the other direction.

[3] I think the Slovak author made a slight stylistic mistake here. What they want to say is pretty obvious from the analogy between the writing style and the business cards. My personal guess on the "clean" version of the sentence would be: Ako píšete, tak vás vidia hráči.

BUT!!! I've just consulted a dictionary, and "ako" can also start a time sentence. So, it could also be "when". Ako píšete could be "when you write".

"To" is a very common filler word. It is not related to the players, it points to the writing style or action.
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Chung » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:36 pm

FWIW as a native of English... I've translated the whole text sentence-by-sentence because Google Translate still sometimes falls short in the stuff that is understandable, and I can't let it pass.

Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty.
People would like to know how to write posts.

This carries the nuance for us English natives that it's not a matter of physical capability (e.g. Am I at my computer or not? Do I have enough energy to post stuff?") but rather one of skill (i.e. I've learned how to express myself). Vero's interpretation is more in line with my understanding than Cavesa's even though the difference is slight and in some cases I'm sloppy/lazy enough to use "can" + bare infinitive or "able" + to-infinitive when for precision I really should use "know how" + to-infinitive.

Ale často sa stane, že nevedia písať posty a tak to nemá vyzerať.
Yet it often happens that they don't know how to write posts and it's not supposed to be like this. seems a little more idiomatic to me than Vero's And this is how it shouldn't look like despite the original as tak to nemá vyzerať. Cavesa's translations of And this is what it shouldn't look like. and And that's not the way it should look. are natural enough to my eyes and are closer to the Slovak original than what I'd use. I guess that I just keep wanting to translate it as "to be like" rather "to look like".

Ak už viete TRPG hrať, toto téma s čistým svedomím môžete preskočiť.
If you already know how to play TRPG, (then) you can freely skip this subject. (this seems more natural to me as using s čistým svedomím "with a clear conscience" seems a little out of place in the translation despite its being in the Slovak original. For my English mind, "clear conscience" makes me think of situations where there's a dimension of guilt or even morality in the sentence.

Posty píšeme minimálne štvorriadkové, aby sme predišli že celý príbeh sa bude skladať z jednoriadkových postov, ktoré vám nič o sebe nepovedia.
We write posts in groups of at least four lines so that we'd avoid a case of an entire story consisting of one-line posts which tell you nothing about what's happening. (rather loose but idiomatic translation to me)

We write at minimum four-lined posts so that we could prevent the situation/case/instance* that an entire story will be made up of one-lined posts which tell you nothing about themselves. (closer but somewhat unidiomatic translation to me. It's still slightly better than Google Translate, in my view)

*Predísť means here "to prevent" and can be used in a phrase literally translated as "so that we could prevent that..." (aby sme predišli že...). This is strange but understandable in English and my native sense compels me to add an explicit direct object rather than a subordinate clause to complement "prevent".

To ako píšete vás vidia hráči, vaše posty sú vaše vizitky.
How you write is seen by other players. Your posts are your calling cards. (This is how I'd translate it even though it deviates a bit from the original. Vizitka is most often translated as "business card" nowadays but this isn't what I'd use here considering that this kind of card has a sense of merely passing along contact information for professional purposes. In contrast, a calling card can refer to a literal card from the 1800s and earlier that acted as a marker of your presence or nowadays a figurative one that refers to a characteristic or quirk (cf. "Steelers News: Is the Steelers’ defense going to be their calling card in 2019?")

Depending on the context, to can be translated as a filler slightly akin to the affectation of initial so in informal English (e.g. "So I was talking to my friend and...", "So we're getting married this summer...") or as a repurposing of to "that" (neuter) as a shorthand reference to something just brought up by the speaker. I agree with Vero and Cavesa on its use here.

In Slovak, placing the subject immediately after the conjugated verb can act as a way to reduce the subject's importance or even convey something translateable to the English passive. In this case, the writer is focusing on the effect of your writing style on others rather than the people making judgements on your writing style.

===

I think that all of the above should illustrate how tough translation can be when looking for idiomaticity. I figure that someone who's native in both English and Slovak (or native in one and near-native in the other) would be able to comment better on the above even though for all intents and purposes, what Vero, Cavesa and I have posted is probably plenty for you to see what's happening.
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Cavesa » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:01 pm

Chung wrote:FWIW as a native of English... I've translated the whole text sentence-by-sentence because Google Translate still sometimes falls short in the stuff that is understandable, and I can't let it pass.

Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty.
People would like to know how to write posts.

This carries the nuance for us English natives that it's not a matter of physical capability (e.g. Am I at my computer or not? Do I have enough energy to post stuff?") but rather one of skill (i.e. I've learned how to express myself). Vero's interpretation is more in line with my understanding than Cavesa's even though the difference is slight and in some cases I'm sloppy/lazy enough to use "can" + bare infinitive or "able" + to-infinitive when for precision I really should use "know how" + to-infinitive.


I meant the skill too, not physical ability. But a practical skill, not a theory about this (you know, the difference between a movie director and a movie critic). I simply don't think the word "how" should be mixed into this. When you read the whole paragraph, it targets exactly people, who should be able to write posts of certain quality and not only think about it.

Ak už viete TRPG hrať, toto téma s čistým svedomím môžete preskočiť.
If you already know how to play TRPG, (then) you can freely skip this subject. (this seems more natural to me as using s čistým svedomím "with a clear conscience" seems a little out of place in the translation despite its being in the Slovak original. For my English mind, "clear conscience" makes me think of situations where there's a dimension of guilt or even morality in the sentence.

Yes, that is the same point. The dimension of guilt is definitely here. "Freely" sounds more natural in English, but the guilt dimension definitely makes sense and it is even used in this context in English too (sometimes jokingly). The guilt related to a student not studying a certain chapter in enough detail, the guilt of a teacher not explaining something properly. The author suggests that people with relevant experience don't need to feel bad about skipping the following part.

Posty píšeme minimálne štvorriadkové, aby sme predišli že celý príbeh sa bude skladať z jednoriadkových postov, ktoré vám nič o sebe nepovedia.
We write posts in groups of at least four lines so that we'd avoid a case of an entire story consisting of one-line posts which tell you nothing about what's happening. (rather loose but idiomatic translation to me)

We write at minimum four-lined posts so that we could prevent the situation/case/instance* that an entire story will be made up of one-lined posts which tell you nothing about themselves. (closer but somewhat unidiomatic translation to me. It's still slightly better than Google Translate, in my view)

Ah, I missed the "groups of at least four lines" part the first time, it is clearly nonsense. There are no groups, there are posts of a certain length. Chung's translation is definitely better. I would translate it like "We write posts of the minimum length of four lines, to prevent the whole story from consisting of one line posts, that would tell you nothing by (or about, I think there are two options) themselves."


*Predísť means here "to prevent" and can be used in a phrase literally translated as "so that we could prevent that..." (aby sme predišli že...). This is strange but understandable in English and my native sense compels me to add an explicit direct object rather than a subordinate clause to complement "prevent".

Again, I think the confusion comes from the author writing informally. Seemingly weird use of "že" and creating constructions like this one is a bit of stylistic mistake in regards to formal language. It is a normal colloquial thing. Really, I think the best translation here is "to prevent the story from...". I'd say a more clear version of the Slovak sentence would be like "aby sme predišli tomu, že" and that one word would make it crystal clear ("to" would be the described situation we want to prevent from happening).
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby aquarius » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:24 pm

Vero, Cavesa and Chung, thank you for your interesting and inspiring replies.

I'd like to come back to the first sentence.

I had problems to understand the first sentence, because I couldn't imagine that there would be a lot of people deliberately saying that they 'would like to be able to write posts', and thereby implicitly admitting that, at the moment, they are not yet able to do so. I'd rather presume that most people would insist that they are quite able to write posts.

I agree with Cavesa that the translation 'people would like to be able to write posts' is closer to the Slovak text.

However, Vero's and Chungs translation 'people would like to know how to write posts' finally made me figure out what the writer might want to say. Perhaps people don't lack the fondamental skill (the skill of writing texts in general), but they are just in need of some additional information that would enable them to write good posts. And it's quite OK to ask for some information, and also to offer it. The formulation 'people would like to know how to write posts' sounds a bit 'softer' and 'less drastic' to me than 'people would like to be able to write posts.'

Therefore, in my opinion 'people would like to know how to write posts' would be the more appropriate formulation in this situation.

I'm not a native speaker of English, so I don't know if native speakers of English perceive it the same way.

On the other hand, of course, the fact that a certain English formulation sounds good to me, does not necessarily mean that it's also the better translation. Maybe, the author wanted to say something that does not sound good to me.

So it would be interesting to know, if the difference in nuance between 'people would like to be able to write posts' and 'people would like to know how to write posts' could be also expressed in Slovak: 'Ľuďia by chceli vedieť písať posty' vs. 'Ľuďia by chceli vedieť ako písať posty'. Do these 2 sentences express the same difference as the 2 English sentences?
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Saim » Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:41 am

Cavesa wrote:I meant the skill too, not physical ability. But a practical skill, not a theory about this (you know, the difference between a movie director and a movie critic). I simply don't think the word "how" should be mixed into this. When you read the whole paragraph, it targets exactly people, who should be able to write posts of certain quality and not only think about it.


In English we do mainly use “know how to”/“learn how to” to refer to practical skills. They want to know how to type, swim, fix things, write posts, or to make, shoot films as per your example. “How” doesn’t refer to the manner the action is done in in this construction. There is no theoretical knowledge implied in “I know how to swim”.
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Re: How (not) to make posts - question concerning Slovak

Postby Cavesa » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:36 am

Saim wrote:
Cavesa wrote:I meant the skill too, not physical ability. But a practical skill, not a theory about this (you know, the difference between a movie director and a movie critic). I simply don't think the word "how" should be mixed into this. When you read the whole paragraph, it targets exactly people, who should be able to write posts of certain quality and not only think about it.


In English we do mainly use “know how to”/“learn how to” to refer to practical skills. They want to know how to type, swim, fix things, write posts, or to make, shoot films as per your example. “How” doesn’t refer to the manner the action is done in in this construction. There is no theoretical knowledge implied in “I know how to swim”.


Perhaps. That's what makes translation a bit difficult.

In this context, the Slovak sentence is obviously meant to imply that people struggle with writing high quality posts. That's obvious, I am 100% sure of this, I do not struggle with Slovak. Not with hitting the reply button, touching some letter keys, and then finding the send button. And that is both practical and theoretical knowledge. I'm not sure how would English say it properly. Also, sometimes a more literal translation is useful to the learner.

With the swimming example, there is also theoretical knowledge, if you want to be very good at swimming, and practice. There are people, who are good at swimming and "to know how to swim" in their world equals "to know how to swim fast and with good technique", while the people who can just get through the swimming pool without drowning do not count. Or to know how to write a book implies writing a book that would be good enough for people to read (which also includes theory and lots of practice), not just a set of random letters that you self publish. Those are the equivalents of this situation.
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