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More than Word-for-Word

The creek running through the York College campus in the fall

When YCP alum Kevin Schreiber, and former member of the PA House of Representatives, took a new position as President and CEO of York County Economic Alliance he brought along with him a project started for York County, a local resources guidebook. Last semester, Sully Pinos, who works with Kevin as Director of Business Solutions and Innovation, reached out to York College with a timely request regarding that booklet. As approximately 46% of the York demographic is made up of Spanish speaking households it was time to have this publication translated into Spanish.

The request was a natural fit for Dr. Cynthia Doutrich’s Spanish Translation class who agreed to take this CBL project on in the fall of 2017. The 13 students in this course applied their Spanish language skills to translate the resources. The brochure, entitled the Human Services Resource Guide, provides a wealth of information about services for those who live in the York community. The topics covered in the brochure are divided into six general categories: employment, healthcare, housing, energy, clothing and food. From the beginning of the semester, students were challenged with exercises from their textbooks and practice worksheets. A good solid command of the structures of the language was a must for this project. The course focused on two areas: a review of grammatical structures and application of language skills to the art of translation. Some of the translations were from English to Spanish, while others were from Spanish to English. Students quickly discovered that translating to one’s first language is easier.

The students knew before the course began that a good translation is rarely a literal, word-for-word rendition of the original document. Nevertheless, for some students who had never done translations as part of their study of Spanish, it was an eye-opening experience to realize that the way in which Spanish expresses ideas is often very different from the way these same ideas are expressed in English. A translation can be technically correct, yet not “sound right” to a native speaker of the language.

Translating the Human Service Resource Guide was an important capstone project that enabled students to apply the concepts learned throughout the semester. It was a rewarding learning experience for Dr. Doutrich’s students to participate in a translation project that benefitted the local community. It was even more appreciated by the YCEA as they now look to get the brochure published and into the hands of York citizens who will benefit greatly from the work done in this class.

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