Comment on Martin Römer & Hans-Peter Wellke’s original 2006 translation:
Since we didn't find any direct translation of the English title that wouldn't have sounded very clumsy in German, we decided to abbreviate it to MOLEKÜL DER WAHRNEHMUNG. Also that it would be legitimate to assume “the molecule” document is read with the context "Clean Language" in mind.
Especially difficult to translate was "... that's like what ?" since German clients inexperienced with CL in our opinion would usually react to the direct translation "... wie was ?" with "what do you mean ?"
So we assumed a client that is familiar with the term "metapher", and thus would ask the first time "Und wenn du ... mit einer Metapher beschreiben wolltest, dann ist ... wie was ?" Directly translated as, "And if you would like to describe ... in metaphor, ... would be like what ?".
Later on, when the client then familiar with "... wie was ?" the facilitator could switch to the short form. Alas, there are plenty of German clients who can't make head nor tail of the term "metapher", so with those we would use the German translation of "And if you would like to describe ... with an image or analogy, ... would be like what ?". For reasons of brevity, we omitted that in the molecule, but will put it on other lists of translations.
Actually, until two weeks I assumed that the "difficulty" with the translation of "like what" was specific to German, but then Hans-Peter mentioned that he has heard also from English facilitators of having un-understanding reactions of clients to the question "like what ?".
What's your experience here, and what about translations in other languages ?
(Posted by Phil Swallow)
In my experience many clients are not sure what a metaphor is - and they don't need to know for the process to work. Preparing the ground is what is needed before using the 'like what?' question. This means finding the LOCATION of a perception (by asking where it is 2 or 3 times) and any ATTRIBUTES it may have. When this preparatory work is done, the 'like what?' question is asked and a metaphor normally emerges easily.
(Posted by James Lawley, 25 May 2015)
An example of the kind of preparation Phil mentions is given my blog, "How to Start Modelling an Exemplar": cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/blogs/79/