From microbiology to nuclear physics and chemistry to software engineering, scientific and technical translation is a complex activity that involves communicating specialised information on a variety of subjects across multiple languages. It requires expert linguistic knowledge and writing skills combined with the ability to research and understand complex concepts and present them to a range of different audiences. Using a combination of interdisciplinary research, real-world examples drawn from professional practise and numerous learning activities, Scientific and Technical Translation Explained equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to get started in this exciting and challenging field.
Byrne, Jody (2007) Caveat Translator: Understanding the Legal Consequences of Errors in Professional Translation. Journal of Specialised Translation, 2007 (7) pp.2-24 At the very heart of translation studies is the issue of translation quality. Yet, while there are numerous methods for assessing the quality of translations, little is known about what happens when a translator…
Technical translators have traditionally been regarded as being solely concerned with matters of specialised terminology and factual accuracy. The issue of writing skills in technical translation has tended not to receive much attention with the prevailing view that as long as what was written was clear and concise, there was nothing to worry about. But the role of the modern technical translator has evolved to such an extent that it bears little resemblance to the traditional notion of a translator. Various external factors have resulted in technical translators implementing writing strategies more commonly associated with areas such as technical writing, information design and even creative writing. This places technical translation firmly at the frontier of the accepted view of translation and it is now time to decide whether to press on into uncharted territory or whether to turn back and return to safe, familiar ground. This paper discusses how traditional distinctions between the work of translators and writers are rapidly fading and examine ways in which a translator’s writing skills play a central role in the evolution of technical translation.
I’ve been working a lot lately on creating e-learning lessons based on branching scenarios. Where branching scenarios differ from traditional lessons is that they are less linear and they put learners in specific situations where they have to make decisions and then see the results of those decisions play out. In cases where we’re trying to change attitudes, approaches or develop learners’ skills (as opposed to just knowledge), branching scenarios help us move towards an interactive model where learners make the same types of decisions they’d make in a real-world environment.
Last November, I gave a keynote speech at the Voice of Customer Colloquium at the University of Aveiro, in Portugal. I spoke about the potential for massive disruption in technical communication as a result of new technologies. With technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Generation, and chat-bots all threatening to do our jobs more quickly, more cheaply, and more effectively, why wouldn’t technical communicators be fearful about what the future holds?
Sometimes technology doesn’t make life easy for translators. Sometimes translators don’t make life easy for themselves either. I was recently trying to explain to a fellow translator why I always insist on receiving the actual formatted source text before starting work, but I think he thought I was just being awkward and a little bit old fashioned. I mean seriously, who, in this day and age, needs to see what a text will look like when it’s printed? He didn’t say as much but I could detect this young hipster’s incredulity at my “old-world” approach.
When you switch on your computer and type up a letter, what language do you see? What about when you visit a website or play a computer game? Does your mobile phone speak your language? Chances are that each of these technological marvels of the modern age communicates with you in your own language. For many of us, this is so commonplace and seamless that we hardly give it a moment’s thought but behind the scenes there is a whole industry dedicated to making sure that technology bridges the gap between language and culture without you even noticing.