Tautological expressions lurk everywhere

I’ve often ignored tautological expresses. When my guard is down I just reproduce them in my translations. After all, who could complain about me mirroring the source text?

But one day, I realized I needed to raise my game and stop just accepting what the client wrote. I needed to start systematically eliminating this fluff where I can. Here is what pushed me over the edge:

“Syftet med högnivåmötet var att skapa en gemensam diskussion om vägar framåt när det gäller Europas åldrande befolkning.”

So what is unnecessarily repetitive here? Well, the very common Swedish phrase gemensam diskussion.  By definition, all discussions are with a counterpart and writing gemensam provides no real additional information. It does no real harm here either, you could argue. But in the translation it is more problematic.

What triggered me was when proofing a translation that retained gemensam diskussion as “common discussion”. Easy enough to swallow, but we really don’t say that in English.

At first I struggled to find a better way of saying this in English. Eventually it dawned on me that I should just write “discussion”.

A common fallacy we fall into is that the source text is authoritative. It is not. It is just a proposed way of expressing ideas in one language and this proposed way may or may not be appropriate for target language.

Lesson to myself: keep up the fight to divorce myself from the source text more to allow a more idiomatic translation.