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Rule suggestion: Numbers in song texts

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Editor
<a href="/es/translator/amateur" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1069494">amateur</a>
Se unió: 12.10.2010
Pending moderation

I suggest that it's made mandatory to write numbers in lyrics in words to improve readability & to make it easier to follow lyrics in languages one doesn't speak. To give an example, instead of

365 gün saňa garaşdym

one should write the lyrics as

Üç ýüz altmyş bäş gün saňa garaşdym

so someone who doesn't necessarily speak Turkmen can also follow the text.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
<a href="/es/translator/sydney-lover" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1112972">DarkJoshua</a>
Se unió: 10.05.2012

Well, it depends on whose perspective you're talking from. It's certainly easier for the reader to have everything spelt out so to be easily pronounceable, but for the writer (the translator, in this case) is just a pain for the eyes. It slows everything down and for someone who doesn't know the target language, it's going to be useless, because they wouldn't know the phonetics rules of the language. For a learner it's even worse because they should know basic numbers or can easily figure them out, if they're too big.
Back when I worked in a translation agency, we had a guideline to follow: numbers above ten would always be spelt with digits, whilst numbers below would be spelt in letters. When I write (both on LT and in real life) I always use this rule of thumb as I got used to it pretty quickly and sounds reasonable enough to me.
My question is: to whom this would be useful? The translator clearly knows what they're writing, so they're out of the equation. Maybe to the reader, depending on the level of proficiency of the target language: someone who can't speak it, wouldn't even try to pronounce words (and probably wouldn't even check out a translation in a language they don't know), a native speaker would have no problems reading a number no matter how it's written and a learner can easily figure it out, if they don't know it already. Someone who's curious can simply ask or google it.
Unless this new rule is in some way useful to someone, I personally can't see why we should add it.

Editor , Leader of the Balkan Squad
<a href="/es/translator/crimsondyname" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1311076">crimsonDyname</a>
Se unió: 14.10.2016

I agree. Even if the number is spelt out in the song, it makes it more of a hassle to a non-fluent speaker who's reading the translation, especially if they don't have the song on hand to listen to so they can understand the number.

Moderator of comparative linguistics
<a href="/es/translator/knee427" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1110108">Alma Barroca</a>
Se unió: 05.04.2012

It is definitely something we could discuss, thank you for your suggestion, but I don't think it should be made mandatory. I myself don't know how to write numbers in full in languages that I don't master and in which I often add lyrics. A work around could be using footnotes or annotations now that we have them, but, again, letting people do what they feel comfortable doing.

Moderator and Incorrigable
<a href="/es/translator/ww-ww" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1294288">Ww Ww</a>
Se unió: 03.06.2016

I try to write out all numbers, however sometimes it makes the lines long and cumbersome. If that is the case then perhaps it might be best to write the numbers out in the submitter's comments. An example 365 (written fully out and in the case appropriate), and then perhaps transliterated too as needed. Writing out years can be quite lengthy.
That avoids strange run-on lines that may be equally confusing to a reader with a limited knowledge of a language(s).

Senior Member
<a href="/es/translator/kitkat1" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1276741">KitKat1</a>
Se unió: 07.02.2016

Sometimes you need to treat the number as a word, for example in English phrases like “I told you a million times,” which also occur in other languages (قلت مليون مرة احبك). You wouldn’t want to write “I told you 1,000,000 times.”

I’m only a novice translator, but for what it’s worth, I think it should be optional.

Editor
<a href="/es/translator/sandring" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1263066">sandring</a>
Se unió: 18.10.2015

"In the year of '39 assembled here the Volunteers"

"And it's 25 to midnight and fifteen miles of track"

The way dates and numbers are presented by an author is part of the copyright. So it would be only logical to stick to the same in a translation to avoid the copyright infringement

Aussie Scheherazade
<a href="/es/translator/kerakemas" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1192548">kerakemas</a>
Se unió: 06.11.2013

I don't think he was talking about TRANSLATIONS. Merely lyrics.....

I actually agree, because I like to sing along to songs and there have been times where the lyric just has the number '7' when I have no idea what that number is in the language.

Editor , Leader of the Balkan Squad
<a href="/es/translator/crimsondyname" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1311076">crimsonDyname</a>
Se unió: 14.10.2016

Sometimes the number is left in English, like, coincidentally enough, in the case of '7' by Dunja Vujadinović. So it probably depends on the song itself.

Member
<a href="/es/translator/amethysthazeleyes" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1395724">AmethystHazelEyes</a>
Se unió: 10.09.2018
DarkJoshua escribió:

Well, it depends on whose perspective you're talking from. It's certainly easier for the reader to have everything spelt out so to be easily pronounceable, but for the writer (the translator, in this case) is just a pain for the eyes. It slows everything down and for someone who doesn't know the target language, it's going to be useless, because they wouldn't know the phonetics rules of the language. For a learner it's even worse because they should know basic numbers or can easily figure them out, if they're too big.
Back when I worked in a translation agency, we had a guideline to follow: numbers above ten would always be spelt with digits, whilst numbers below would be spelt in letters. When I write (both on LT and in real life) I always use this rule of thumb as I got used to it pretty quickly and sounds reasonable enough to me.
My question is: to whom this would be useful? The translator clearly knows what they're writing, so they're out of the equation. Maybe to the reader, depending on the level of proficiency of the target language: someone who can't speak it, wouldn't even try to pronounce words (and probably wouldn't even check out a translation in a language they don't know), a native speaker would have no problems reading a number no matter how it's written and a learner can easily figure it out, if they don't know it already. Someone who's curious can simply ask or google it.
Unless this new rule is in some way useful to someone, I personally can't see why we should add it.

I am sure this is how writers usually try to write numbers in published books over here (UK). I personally only use digits for 10 and above when writing.

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