Saturday, December 24, 2011
Catherine Christaki, Tess Whitty, and Steven Marzuola (left to right) outlined the paths they each took to get into translation, and then sparked a discussion about important issues in technical translation during a Q&A session.
Steven Marzuola provided insights about how he got involved in translating for the oil and gas industry. At age 9, when he and his family lived in Venezuela, his father began taking him to visit oil rigs. Steven later worked in oil industry for about 10 years, before moving back to the US in the 1991. He began working for agencies that needed Spanish – English translations in the oil and gas industry which he was able to provide due to his background in the field which provided familiarity with the techniques, equipment and terminology. Steven enjoys reading, writing about his projects, translating, and presenting about his experiences.
Tess Whitty has a background in IT, telecommunications, and marketing, and a love for languages. After receiving her degrees in international marketing and business communications, she started working as a product marketing manager for a telecommunications company in Sweden. It was not until moving to the US that she started working as a translator and established her translation business translating from English to Swedish, specializing in software localization, IT, telecommunications and business communications. She is the language chair for the new English into Swedish certification for ATA, and helped develop this certification program.
Catherine Christaki translates from English into Greek in IT, telecommunications, medical and technical areas. In cooperation with her husband, a translator with expertise in the gambling field, she also translates and edits in this field. When she started as a translator, she had no knowledge in a specific field, and she worked full-time before choosing her fields.
Varied topics were covered during the Q&A time. Here are some of the insights, grouped by subject matter.
Some types of texts in medical translation require knowledge of only basic terminology, such as patient questionnaires, and can be attempted by any good technical translator. By contrast, others, like dentistry, require extensive field-specific knowledge, so attempted translation should not be treated lightly.
Tess stated that software localization is mainly done by localization companies, using translation agencies or freelance translators for the translation part. Direct clients are rare for this subject. Catherine said that Greek is almost never a part of the first round of localization when software is developed, and strings have already been translated into other languages, like French or German. Therefore, most of the problems that might occur, like formatting issues due to expansion of the translated text, have been addressed before the source text reaches the Greek translator. Also, since a lot of translators and/or translation agencies usually take part in the localization of a software project in a specific language combination, the individual IT translator almost never gets the chance to see his/her work published. Tess stated that she never gets the finished product, but can be involved in changes during software fixes and updates. Based on her experience, it would be ideal to make the translator part of the software development team instead of sending the translation to an agency or specialized translator after development. Developing the terminology simultaneously would make it easier to discuss terms e.g. those that need to fit into the same space when translated. An onsite translator could learn the terminology, explain difficulties of term translations, and ask questions.
The main language of communication in the oil industry is English. In many countries employees work in English, but not everywhere. The example in question was Spanish in Venezuela. The nature of translation for oil and gas depends on the software, the languages, and the project. For example, if only one company or language is involved, it makes terminology easier, even though each has their own specific terms.
After some discussion, all the attendees introduced themselves. The variety of subject-matter expertise present was inspiring! It included IT, engineering, mechanical engineering, renewable and building energy, gaming, materials science, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, nanotechnology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and patent translation in these areas. Some also work in less technical subjects like marketing and law, and some attendees provide interpreting services as well as translation and localization services. Target languages represented were Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Polish and Spanish. A project manager from a translation company who values subject-matter expertise also attended this session. As we closed the meeting, she was surrounded by those present who were interested working for her company. This session was a haven for technical writing geeks enjoying the company of like-minded people.
Susanna Weerth works as an English – German freelance translator and interpreter. She specializes in life sciences (medical, biological and pharmaceutical), patent, and general legal translation and medical interpretation. She holds a professional certification as medical assistant and worked several years as medical technician in a physician's office and a clinical laboratory at the Veterinary University Clinics of Munich. She received a "Diplom" (MS equivalent) in Biology and a "Doktor" (PhD equivalent) in Biology/Neuroimmunology from the University of Munich and the Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Germany. She worked in a clinical laboratory in Oncology in Germany. And after relocating to the US, she worked for several years in neuroscience research in laboratories at different universities and the National Institute of Health. She transitioned into translation by completing the "Certificate in German to English Translation" at the New York University in 2010 and started interpreting the same year with courses at Georgetown and Cross Cultural Communication. She has also taken biomedical writing and editing courses. She is currently involved at the board of the National Capitol Area Translators Association (NCATA) and the Nominating Committee of the Science & Technology Division and NCATA.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Some people believe that technical writing is dry, verbose, self-aggrandizing, and just plain boring. These poor people have never met Kevin Costello. At the recent ATA conference in Boston, I attended a session by this translation instructor from James Madison University. His presentation, “Mind All the Gaps in Spanish-English Technical Translation” showed attendees that technical translation does not have to be dry, nor does talking about it.
- Write shorter sentences. (Spanish sentences can go on for miles. English sentences should not.)
- Prefer the active voice. (Passive constructions are generally favored in Spanish technical writing. English can -- and often should -- be more direct.)
- Use a personal style. (In English, "we looked up and saw" makes more sense than "upon looking up, it was seen that. . .")
- Use verbs. (The structure of Spanish allows for the use of many more nouns than we are accustomed to using in English. Changing the nouns to verbs usually improves comprehensibility.)
- Use consistent vocabulary. (Repetition is generally frowned upon in Spanish, so writers tend to use plenty of synonyms. In English, it is often better to pick one word and stick with it.)
- Use parallel structure. (The Spanish text may say "Group 1 averaged 12 accidents, and the second group had a mean of 8." An English text, however, would use the same structure for both phrases: "Group 1 averaged 12 accidents, and Group 2 averaged 8.")
- Remove redundancies. (Translating every word of a sentence in Spanish often leads to needless repetition. These repetitions can be omitted without damage to the meaning of the text.)
Danielle Maxson is a freelance Portuguese to English and Spanish to English translator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
On Thursday, October 27, at 6:15 p.m. members of ATA’s Sci-Tech division gathered in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel Copley Place to walk to an Indian restaurant, Kashmir, on Newbury Street. Alicja Yarborough, who had organized this event, awaited us there for our annual division dinner. It was a short walk from the hotel past Boston's brownstone houses in cold rainy weather. We were happy to be welcomed by Alicja at the restaurant, which had such a pleasant atmosphere. The 34 members attending were seated at tables reserved for our division in a private space.
Before the first appetizer arrived, we had some time to get to know the fellow Sci-Tech Division members at our table. As a relative new comer to translation and interpretation, I was happy to start a conversation with the three members sharing my table. We talked about our specialties, language pairs and direction, and our experience with science, technical and medical translations, as well as our experiences at this year’s conference. As it turned out, two members at my table shared my language pair, and I was pleased to hear their advice.
Appetizers arrived at the tables in bowls and copper dishes: "Vegetable Pakorah," some freshly cut vegetables, deep fried in chick-pea batter and "Sheek kebab," pieces of Tandoori baked minced lamb seasoned with chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, herbs and spices, served with three kinds of different chutney and Indian "Naan" bread. The red chutney was so hot that some members ordered “Lassi”, a traditional yoghurt-based drink of India, to quench the heat of the spicy food.
Before the main courses arrived the Division Administrator, Karen Tkaczyk, introduced herself and gave a little speech. She thanked Alicja Yarborough for organizing the museum visit and the dinner. Karen then introduced the other founding members of the “new” Sci-Tech, Assistant Administrator Steven Marzuola, and Stephanie Strobel. Karen welcomed Nicolas Hartman, the outgoing ATA president and enthusiastic member of the Sci-Tech Division. Karen then introduced other division volunteers: members of the Leadership Council and the Nominating Committee, most of whom attended the dinner. She pointed out that this year the division was very strongly represented with 11 presentations, and she encouraged everyone to attend the Division’s Annual Meeting on Saturday from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
There was quite a variety of entrées: one called "Chicken Tikka Masala", a Tandoori style white meat chicken in a tomato cream sauce. A second, "Dal Makhani" contained lentils sautéed in butter with fresh herbs and spices, garnished with fresh coriander. Other dishes included "Shahi Aloo Gobhi," cauliflower and potatoes cooked with tomato, onion, herbs and spices, and "Kabuli Chaana," whole chick peas cooked with onions and tomatoes.
Division member Alfred Hellstern and Stephanie Strobel took photographs of the event, visiting table to table so they could catch all 34 members happily chatting and eating. Finally, a delicious desert "Galub Jamum," a dish of two deep fried wheat cake balls, soaked in syrup, completed our menu.
Along with enjoying the wonderful menu, we were happy to have met our distinguished group of colleagues and friends. We exchanged business cards to keep in touch.
It was a fabulous event, and I look forward to meeting even more division members at the Sci-Tech Division dinner during next year’s ATA Annual Conference in San Diego.
Susanna Weerth works as an English – German freelance translator and interpreter. She specializes in life sciences (medical, biological and pharmaceutical), patent, and general legal translation and medical interpretation. She holds a professional certification as medical assistant and worked several years as medical technician in a physician's office and a clinical laboratory at the Veterinary University Clinics of Munich. She received a "Diplom" (MS equivalent) in Biology and a "Doktor" (PhD equivalent) in Biology/Neuroimmunology from the University of Munich and the Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Germany. She worked in a clinical laboratory in Oncology in Germany and after relocating to the US for several years in neuroscience research in laboratories at different universities and the National Institute of Health. She transitioned into translation by completing the "Certificate in German to English Translation" at the New York University in 2010 and started interpreting the same year with courses at Georgetown and Cross Cultural Communication. She has also taken biomedical writing and editing courses. She is currently involved at the board of the National Capitol Area Translators Association (NCATA) and the Nominating Committee of the Science & Technology Division and NCATA.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Here is another point of view on João Roque Dias’s ATA52 conference session on translating manuals. Thank you to Evan Schapiro, Senior Project Manager at CETRA Language Solutions for reviewing the session.http://info.cetra.com/blog/bid/48128/ATA52-The-Art-of-Translating-Manuals
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Sci-Tech Division stood out during Division Open-house following the Opening Reception at the ATA Annual Conference. The Sci-Tech Division table featured a creative construction toy “Super Marbleworks Raceway Construction Set.” It was well received by members of the division and particularly appreciated by out-going president, Nick Hartman, who said, “This is why I plan to become very involved in the Sci-Tech Division. These are my people!"