1st Edition

Scientific and Technical Translation Explained A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Beginners

By Jody Byrne Copyright 2012
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    From microbiology to nuclear physics and chemistry to software engineering, scientific and technical translation is a complex activity that involves communicating specialized 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 practice and numerous learning activities, this introductory textbook equips the student with the knowledge and skills needed to get started in this exciting and challenging field. It examines the origins and history of scientific and technical translation, and the people, tools and processes involved in translating scientific and technical texts.

    Scientific and Technical Translation Explained provides an overview of the main features of scientific and technical discourse as well as the different types of documents produced. A series of detailed case studies highlight various translation challenges and introduce a range of strategies for dealing with them. A variety of resources and exercises are included to make learning effective and enjoyable. Additional resources and activities are available on Facebook.


    1. Scientific and Technical Translation
    1.1 Introduction
    1.1.1 Some distinctions
    1.1.2 Historical significance
    1.1.3 Modern scientific and technical translation
    1.1.4 Some legal dimensions
    1.2 A place for translation theory?
    1.2.1 Recreating the source text
    1.2.2 Focusing on the target text
    1.3 Tools of the trade
    1.3.1 General tools
    1.3.2 Text processing tools
    1.3.3 Translation tools
    1.4 Who’s who in scientific and technical translation?
    1.4.1 The translator
    1.4.2 The clients

    2. Translation and Technical Communication
    2.1 Introduction
    2.2 What is technical communication?
    2.2.1 Generic features of technical communication
    2.3 Who reads technical documentation?
    2.3.1 Understanding audiences
    2.3.2 Finding out who the audience is Asking the right questions
    2.4 Knowing what you’re talking about

    3. Understanding Technical Documentation
    3.1 Introduction
    3.1.1 Specific features of technical documentation Language Facts and specifications References Graphics Formulae, equations and scientific notation
    3.2 Typical text types
    3.2.1 Manuals
    3.2.2 Applications and proposals
    3.2.3 Reports and scientific papers
    3.2.4 Presentations
    3.2.5 Regulatory documents
    3.2.6 Popular science
    3.2.7 A word on how texts are structured
    3.2.8 Making sense of text types in translation

    4. Case Studies
    4.1 Introduction
    4.2 Scientific Journal Paper
    4.3 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)
    4.4 Creating your own document profiles
    4.4.1 Document Profile Sheet
    4.5 Test Instructions
    4.6 Expert Technical Report
    4.7 User Guide
    4.8 Popular Science Book
    4.9 Certificate of Conformity
    4.10 Technical Case Study

    5. Basic Translation Techniques
    5.1 Introduction
    5.2 The basics
    5.2.1 Direct translation Literal translation Borrowing Calque
    5.2.2 Oblique translation Equivalence Transposition/Recategorization Modulation Adaptation
    5.2.3 Expansion and contraction Recycling information
    5.2.4 Generalizing and particularizing
    5.2.5 Compensation
    5.2.6 Restructuring
    5.2.7 Iconic Linkage
    5.3 What type of translation are you producing?
    5.3.1 Instrumental and documentary translations
    5.3.2 Producing a translation brief
    5.3.3 When not to translate Official translations and proper names Laws European Directives
    5.4 Writing within limits
    5.4.1 Terminology
    5.4.2 Clarity, readability and usability
    5.4.3 Editing and proof-reading Reviewing the work of another translator General hints for editing and reviewing translations
    5.5 When in doubt

    6. Pitfalls, Problems and How to Deal with Them
    6.1 Introduction
    6.2 Abbreviations and acronyms
    6.3 Formulae and Equations
    6.4 Quantities and units of measure
    6.5 Currencies
    6.6 Culture and Familiarity
    6.7 Errors in the Source Text
    6.8 Sample text and computer code
    6.9 Graphics, screenshots and menus
    6.10 Product names
    6.11 Contact details
    6.12 Scenarios and examples
    6.13 Giving warnings and advice
    6.14 References to other documents
    6.15 Partially translated source texts
    6.16 Latinisms and scientific nomenclatures
    6.17 Instructions that do not make sense
    6.18 Tables of contents and indices
    6.19 Formatting and layout
    6.20 Managing and naming files
    6.21 Using the Internet



    Jody Byrne has been a professional technical translator since 1997 and has taught translation and localization at Dublin City University and the University of Sheffield. He holds a BA in translation and a PhD in technical translation and is the author of Technical Translation: Usability Strategies for Translating Technical Documentation (Springer, 2006) as well as numerous other publications on technical translation, professional communication and usability. He is a professional member of the Irish Translators’ & Interpreters' Association and a fellow of the Institute of Scientific & Technical Communicators.