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Translations that work in English?

Should we be focusing more on translating literally or on making our English translations elegant? For example, this sentence in French:

En botanique (depuis la première moitié du XIXesiècle), dans la classification classique, «Theobroma» (nom scientifique masculin) désigne un genre de plantes comme le cacaoyer, le théier, le caféier et le cola.

The phrase "nom scientifique masculin" means "masculine scientific name," (or "noun") but the fact that the noun is masculine in French is completely irrelevant in English. Should it still be translated as "masculine scientific name" or just "scientific name" or what?

July 12, 2012



Good question, I would translate it in a way that makes the most sense in English. In this case I suppose leaving out its gender as there are no grounds to mention it should a person be reading this article in English.

Good observation, and should I come across this article, I'll be sure to follow suit.


I think those trying to game the system are missing the point. I aim to provide the best translation I can. In this case, I would go for just "scientific name" as that would be the relevant annotation in English.


If I translate (Spanish->English) an item that no one has translated previously, the score appears to be based on Duolingo's dictionaries, not other humans from what I can tell. These literal translations are often awkward, not something a native English speaker would say. Thus, I assume that Duolingo would rather we submit accurate, succinct translations, than try to guess what their dictionaries would have us say in order to achieve a better score. Comments, Duolingo?


To have the words smiling and singing to enjoy the sentence.

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