Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Annual Science & Technology Division Dinner at the Indian Restaurant, Kashmir, Boston 2012

By Susanna Weerth

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

More on ‘Translating Technical Manuals’ by João Roque Dias

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

Summary of Translating Technical Manuals – by João Roque Dias

João is a translator from English into European Portuguese, specializing in translation of “nuts and bolts, and everything between the bolt head and the nut”, i.e. technical manuals. He gave a presentation for ATA Science and Technology Division during the ATA conference in Boston on his specialty, “Translating Technical Manuals”. His definition of a technical manual is “a roadmap for the user, the bread and butter for any technical translator. Nobody reads a manual but everybody uses it.” He points out that, technical manuals should be translated by technical translators with a deep knowledge of the subject matter, impeccable writing skills and an excellent command of the style for the manual. Unfortunately this is not always the case and some translators have no idea of what they are translating. He points out that there are different types of technical manuals and different audiences. The translator should take this into account and adjust the style accordingly. The translator should use clear and simple style, master the correct technical terminology and read each sentence as you were the end user. One of my favorite comments from him was “If you don’t understand what you are reading, you should also not attempt to translate it”. He also gave many examples of being precise and on false friends, with references in his native language, European Portuguese.
João continued his presentation with some practical tips, such as:

-          never translate the names of the support department, or else the letter may obviously not arrive to the correct place

-          pay attention to numbers and measurements since they are not written the same way in all languages

-          find out if labels and controls should be translated in the software or in the machine itself

-          do not translate the names of buttons on the actual machine

-          refuse to translate picture captions without seeing the actual picture

-          have a check list for your work so you do not miss anything, such as manual spell check on top of machine spell check

-          read the whole manual (not literally, of course) before you start translating it

-          collect, study and learn the main terminology that will be common in the type of manuals you translate

-          use a controlled and simplified (not simple) language

João displayed a great knowledge on the subject matter and presented a rather “dull” subject in a very entertaining and humorous way. For more information on João himself, or his work you can go to his website: http://www.jrdias.com. To download his presentation (extended version in PDF format), this is the link: http://www.jrdias.com/PDF/JRD_Technical_Manuals_52ATA_2011.pdf

Penned by Tess Whitty, English into Swedish translator specializing in IT, software and manuals for consumer electronics http://www.swedishtranslationservices.com.