English to Spanish Translations of Knitting Patterns: Egads

Well I have been putting out “feelers” on one of my design lists and to a few other resources that I have regarding the whole question of Spanish translations of my patterns.

Strictly speaking as a business decision, it is somewhat of an untapped market. There are, however, reasons for this I think. There is apparently more diversity amongst the Spanish speaking than there is amongst the English in the way patterns are done which makes writing and marketing the patterns challenging.

Simply in language alone it is not as simple as choosing Spanish, as there are several dialects to choose from…and then there are numerous ways in which just to say “knit”. It makes my head swim.

In all honesty I don’t have the resources to have an army of people working for me on this to reach consensus on how to write the translations, nor do I have a fat enough purse to support the fees of such efforts.

I shall have to think on this some more. Even a page with a translation of key terms would not benefit the reader of information given in the general instructions section.

The other side of the coin that I have not investigated is the issue of copyright. I do not know much about the culture, and how copyright is or is not respected within this culture. How I feel about my own work, and how freely it is distributed within cultures outside of my own is something to consider when thinking about having my work translated into other languages.

While I like the idea of embracing global peoples, I realize it is not feasible for me to approach everyone and be all things to all people in their own tongue.

The burden may be on the knitter to do as many of my English speaking knitting brothers and sisters have done, and that is to get out their dictionaries that they bought (or fire up their computers) to translate their patterns that are in foreign languages. I know there are some very good references out there for patterns written in foreign languages.

I realize not everyone has resources to these items, but that is not something I can “fix”. Realistically, we all have different types of access in different types of culture, with different types of learning. That is a tall order for one pattern to fill in terms of style of writing and instruction.

I once read a book by Dr. Leo Buscaglia, but I don’t remember the name of the book. He was using a story about a group of animals that decided to start a school. And every animal felt it important that the school taught what each of them excelled at. The rabbit insisted every “child” had to learn about running, the fish parents wanted every “child” to learn how to swim, the bird to fly and so on.

What they ended up with were children who by and large didn’t really excel at anything because they didn’t have enough time to pursue what they truly excelled at because they were pushed in a lot of different directions in things that everyone insisted was really important for them (flying is not important for a fish, and running isn’t important for a bird). He was talking about the public school system.

This somewhat ties in with the discussion at hand, as it does deal with education and being all things to all people and the topic of homogenization. With the homogenization of education, by necessity we require learners to learn in the same way. We require learners to excel at the same things. and we require learners to have access to the same things.

There are some very interesting discussions regarding the process behind translating patterns from English to Spanish and some of the hoops some individuals and companies go to, in order to do this. One source utilizes two translators and if there is disagreement on the best way to describe a process, they utilize a discussion group for the most commonly understood instruction.

I find this all very fascinating to say the very least.

My approach is more like I write it to the best of my ability, I try to keep the more instructional part to the General Instruction section for the less experienced so that the pattern itself is kept to the same level for everyone and yet the less experienced get a little more help. And then I let the chips fall where they may.

I know that my style will not be for everyone. Not everyone likes knitting from charts, and that is okay. My mind boggles at writing line by line instructions. You want to talk about making sure there is an error in the pattern? Make me write line by line instructions and we will talk.

But you know, that is okay. I am okay with that. As I said, I don’t have to be all things to all people. I sometimes see designers struggle with this issue and I wonder why. I am not saying that we should not try and do a good job. We should each do our job to the best of our abilities.

What I am saying though is why do we feel the need to drive ourselves to be all things to all people? Why do we feel as though we have failed, when we cannot do this? It is an unrealistic expectation and yet we set ourselves up for it time and time again.

What really matters at the end of the day is how I feel inside my own skin that counts. And the decisions that I make regarding how I treat other people are what count in that, not the choices I make in what I knit.

Peace and Knitting

JoLene Treace


5 Responses to “English to Spanish Translations of Knitting Patterns: Egads”

  1. Jo Addison Says:

    I am looking for someone to translate a knitting pattern from Spainsh to English

    • Eva Says:

      Maybe it´s to late, but I can help you to translate every knitting pattern from Spanish to English and from English to Spanish, if you are still needing the help, I´ll be glad to do it. gausseva@gmail.com

  2. Misty Says:

    I have translated a pattern (thru Google) from Spanish to English but the vocabulary has left me confused. Can you help me?

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