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#1
David Medeiros

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I was wondering what forum members thought about dual language maps, in particular English/Spanish maps of US locations to be used in the US.

I’m curious about the perceived benefit in doing this. What elements of a map make the most sense to translate into another language? Any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that Spanish speakers have trouble using maps printed in just English?

Is there a sales benefit to be realized by taking an existing English only map and adding Spanish translations, or does that seem like an unnecessary expense relative to the increase in sales?

Thanks,
dave

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#2
Dennis McClendon

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What kinds of maps do you have in mind?

For most reference maps, I would see little benefit to translating anything other than the legend or notes. The difference between Nueva York and New York isn't significant enough to bother with.

On the other hand, we publish a Spanish version of the Chicago Transit Authority map (I'm working on the next edition today). We made a policy decision not to translate any geographic or landmark names, but we translate all the service notes about hours of operation, fares, etc. CTA also decided to translate the rail line names--Red, Green, Blue, Orange, etc.--which decision I disagree with. Not only are the line names always written solely in English on any system signage, but the colored lines themselves on the map are more useful than a translation in the legend. Plus, on the first edition, the translator managed to translate Brown Line three different ways. Every edition I have to guard against too-literal translation ("Owl Service" doesn't mean "Service for large nocturnal birds") or new translators using a different phrase than we already use elsewhere on the map.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#3
David Medeiros

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I'm thinking about standard street maps for the most part. I think place names should of course not be translated. Legends and notes could show some benefit (notes more than legends). What about map items such as post offices, libraries, police departments etc.?

My personal take on it is that only communicative things like notes should be translated (and I'm not convinced ther is much of a need for even that). Everything else, including the legend, is fairly self explanatory or very easy for the user to translate on their own. Most of a street maps important information is conveyed symbolically and most of the written information is place name info that should not be translated.

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#4
franciscocartographer

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... very good question.

My first language is Spanish and I only use English in my job. Although I consider myself a bilingual individual it is still easier for me to read in Spanish, so if given the choice I will rather use a map that is in my natural tongue. Now that Hispanics are the biggest minority group in the US (recently surpassing African Americans) this is something that must be in the agenda of cartographers mapping the US. Also the education level of Hispanics is increasing and this will correlate with the demand for maps; so yes I can see the potential on this.

Firstly, there is no necessity on translating cultural features like street names, building names, etc. This will damage the objectives of a reference map. In other words it will create confusion instead of order.
On the other hand the legend might need to be translated as well as notes. I also had problems at first dealing with the use of English measurements like feet, miles, yards, etc. In Latin America and Spain the use of meters is enforced, so probably this can be a good thing to change or to incorporate also.

Secondly, thematic maps are more difficult to analyze so legends and explanatory materials must be translated.

Last but not least, translation is a time consuming process because there are multiple ways of translating words. Also it has to be done using General Spanish or Castilian. One has to be very careful with the use of translators and probably the best thing would be to show the map to a Spanish speaking person before publishing.

... just my opinion. B)
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#5
David Medeiros

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Thanks franciscocartographer,

Your mention of general Spanish or Castilian brings up an important issue with this project, how to translate, or who to translate for. On the west coast the vast majority of Spanish speakers are Latin Americans. Do we translate for them specifically or do we translate for a generalized school book type of Spanish? Is there a noticeable difference between general Spanish and Latin American versions of Spanish? If we translate for general Spanish to be diplomatic, will it alienate any of our Latin American users, or will they have no trouble with the variations in the language?

Lots of questions I guess. I know there is a definite benefit to doing something like this as I'm sure most people would prefer to use a map in their own language, even if it's only a small portion of the map material. I'm still wondering how much sense it makes to convert existing maps from single language to dual language. Is the expense and effort worth it? What is the most significant road-block to understanding the map without a translation and are Spanish speakers actually unable to use English only maps as they are?

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#6
franciscocartographer

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I know from census data and personal experience that the west coast’s Hispanic population is dominated by Mexicans and Central Americans. Nevertheless a bilingual map or publication should not alienate other Spanish speaking individuals. I will stay away from local variations of the language and stick with the traditional version. My opinion is that educated individuals have a higher predisposition to use or buy maps and educated Hispanics will be more familiar with the traditional general Spanish. Although most Hispanic map users should more or less understand a map without translation there is always something that they are going to miss, depending on the individual English level; this is the most significant ‘road-block’ ,I will say.

About four years ago I bought an atlas called “Atlas de Puerto Rico” by Dr. Angel Cruz. This atlas has text divided into two columns, one in Spanish the other in English. Also the maps include text in both languages. Although the maps are not as visually attractive as you will see in this forum, they are very effective and simple. It is the reference book for schools and libraries in Puerto Rico and Dr. Cruz did a very good job in staying away from local variations of Spanish.
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Francisco Jimenez, GISP
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#7
Kartograph

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Triple language maps are NATO-Standard, never had a problem with them. Actually occasions like these are a great way to learn crucial words in other languages.
Watching English TV shows with finnish subtitles makes the Fins the best readers and learners in the whole of Europe, after all! :P

I have several bi-lingual russian maps of germany. Why that, you ask? See, if there had been a war, the truckdrivers would need to know where they are headed. But their orders would be in russian/cyrillic, whereas all signs would be german/latin. So they made this special series.
They surely were confident that their supply trucks would run through NATO countries... :o

#8
David Medeiros

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Great info guys, thanks.

Does anybody have any online examples of dual language legends? I have a few Michelin maps of France that have dual legends but would like to see some other examples.

Also, we covered the front of the map, but whhat about the back? How would you handle things in a Miscelaneous index? Dual headings for things like Schools, Fire Stations, Parks, County Offices, Post Offices etc...?

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#9
Martin Gamache

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German - Spanish

Also the DAV (Austrio/German Alpine Club) maps for Latin American countries have nice trilllingual legends (German, Spanish, English)

I have a nice qualingual (4) 1:000,000 Swiss National Map from Swiss topo.

At NACIS 05 one of the ESRI guys had a very nice billingual Cape Breton map he had done. He may lurk around here and be able to post some elements from it. I suspect that all maps from the Canadian Federal Governement probably have billingual legends and notes on them.

There are plenty of examples...outside of the US...

One thing to keep in mind is that the more languages added on, the more space it requires. This is the main reason that my Peru hiking map only has an English legend and notes. For legend elements it is not so much space but for other text elements it may be significant.

#10
Tim Daly

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Great info guys, thanks.

Does anybody have any online examples of dual language legends?  I have a few Michelin maps of France that have dual legends but would like to see some other examples.

Also, we covered the front of the map, but whhat about the back?  How would you handle things in a Miscelaneous index?  Dual headings for things like Schools, Fire Stations, Parks, County Offices, Post Offices etc...?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi Dave,

I was at NACIS with my Cape Breton Parks map. You can find a link to my old site to have a look at it. http://agrg.cogs.ns....r205/cbhnp.html

The map was produced for a Canadian federal agency so there was a legal requirement to have it available in both official languages (french, english). Two separate publications would have entailed more expense for printing and design and would have created a supply/stocking problem of two products. In Canada there are specific guidelines for place names. In most cases you display one language name with major features in both. You may notice Gulf of St. Lawrence or the name of the national park in both. As an mainly english area the lakes are labelled lakes though in a french region (lower left of map) we used lac and in one case both. Using symbols for features related to the theme of a visitors map let us confine our bi-lingual requirements to the legend. Interesting little things crop up like labelling the north arrow with just an N as west in french begins with an O (ouest). Have a look at the map and legend. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing it or have any further questions.

Also, Canadian topo maps have a dual legend printed on the back of each sheet. See if you can get anything out of http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca/index_e.php

#11
Martin Gamache

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Thanks for posting the link to your map Tim.

It is a great piece.

#12
woneil

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One way to reduce misunderstandings is to have one translator translate from English to Spanish and then send that to another to translate back into Engish. If the result is very different from the original English version then there is a potential for trouble which needs to be tracked down and fixed.

By all means use standard international Spanish unless you have a very particular ethnic audience in mind.
Will O'Neil
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#13
Hans van der Maarel

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Throwing in my 2 cents...

Over here in Holland it's not that uncommon to see a multi-lingual map. I'd say that 90% of all road maps that you can buy at gas stations have a legend in several languages, sometimes up to 4 (Dutch, English, French and German). Quite often city names on the map are translated if they are known under another name in different languages (i.e. Den Haag becomes The Hague). Apart from that the map content is left largely untouched.

In Belgium the situation is different, since it's a multi-lingual country. Most larger cities have therefore names in two or three different languages (Dutch, French and in the east German). So you'd see something like "Antwerpen (Anvers)" or "Luik (Liege/Lüttich)". The same convention is used on highway signage. Preference is given to the name in the local language (i.e. in the Dutch-speaking parts the Dutch name is mentioned first).
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