Monday, September 30, 2013

Beautiful Translations in San Antonio

The American Translators Association will hold its Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas November 6–9, 2013. It is our goal here at the SciTech blog to provide a preview of some of the sessions that will be of interest to scientific and technical translators. The ST track looks very promising!

Karen Tkaczyk will be presenting Beautiful Translations:Foundations for the Personal Care and Cosmetics Industry (ST-11, Friday, 4:00pm–5:00pm). The brief description from the conference website reads:

“This session will provide an overview of essential areas to understand in order to translate for the cosmetics, toiletries, soap, and detergent industry successfully. The speaker will introduce attendees to the regulatory affairs and key concepts behind the industry. A list of useful resources and reference material will also be provided.”

I asked Karen to provide us with a little more information. She started with a personal observation.

“There are areas that non-specialized translators readily refuse work in. Cosmetics and personal care products doesn’t seem to be one of those. Presumably by virtue of personal experience, and due to the ever-present consumer-oriented marketing and advertising we are exposed to, many translators feel they understand this business well enough to work in it, without really having the requisite background knowledge of the field. My goal in this session is to provide that necessary background so that people actually know what’s going on and, I hope, produce much better translations. I have spoken and written on this topic before for ATA (At the 2007–2008 conferences and in The Chronicle, September 2008), but that was long enough ago that it seemed timely to offer a session again, with updates for what has changed in the interim. For instance, the EU has made regulatory changes for cosmetics that came into effect this year.”

When asked who will benefit from his session, she replied:

“My audience is someone who does not already know the global cosmetics industry inside out, or who perhaps knows how it works in a certain product category or country but wants a better understanding of the worldwide picture or the nature of the process from beginning to end: from raw materials to shopping cart. It will be particularly helpful to people who usually translate commercial or marketing texts and don’t intend to translate heavily technical texts but want to understand the background more to make any little technical portions that crop up easier to grasp. This session will also be helpful to people who want to pick up vocabulary commonly used in this field. I’ll do my best to throw in as many typical terms and phrasings as I can.

I will break down the content into four areas:
  • regulatory framework (let’s understand  the rules)
  • scientific and technical assessment (let’s understand the technical fields)
  • ingredients (let’s understand the chemistry and engineering)
  • marketing (let’s understand the hype)

This will be a high level review, given the time available, but I will provide an extensive resource list that should allow anyone who wants to target more clients in this area or become heavily specialized after the conference to do so efficiently, as they’ll have important links readily available."

Coincidentally, someone told me years ago that translation constitutes a roughly two billion dollar market in the U.S.—about the same size as the cosmetics industry. Karen Tkaczyk is a PhD chemist with years of experience as a successful translator specializing in the cosmetics and personal care market, so this is a perfect opportunity to learn about a potential new specialization from an expert.

Monday, September 23, 2013

ATA54: Basics of Virology

Tapani Ronni will be presenting Basics of Virology (ST-7, Saturday 10:00 am–11:00 am). The brief description from the conference website reads:

“This session will provide an introduction to virology. What are viruses and how are they different from other microbes? Can viruses even be considered alive? How come antibiotics do not work against viral infections? Using influenza and AIDS as case studies, antiviral drugs and antiviral immunity will be reviewed briefly. New tools, including viral vectors for gene therapy, will also be discussed. This session will be useful for scientific and medical translators and interpreters.”

I asked Tapani to provide us with a little more information and he referred to his previous talk he gave in San Diego in 2012, Basics of Immunology. An accompanying paper can be found in the ATA Conference Proceedings CD-ROM. He recommends reading it first. He has also written a paper for this talk that can be found in this year’s Proceedings.

“My audience is a scientific or medical translator who has some familiarity with biology and biochemistry. I don’t expect anything beyond high school level. I will assume that attendees are familiar with basic concepts of biochemistry such as protein, DNA, and RNA. I will introduce viruses from the historical viewpoint and then quickly go through their structure and properties—viruses vs. cells, what makes them special entities etc.

I cannot go too deep into virus replication in one hour but I will introduce their life cycles briefly using two important viruses, influenza virus and HIV, as examples. We will also talk about antiviral immunity, virus vaccines, antiviral drugs, and virus vectors in gene therapy. This is a lot to cover so we can only touch the surface of each topic."

This will be a highly visual talk that will give a foundation for further studies for those interested in learning more about this fascinating topic. A reading list will be given at the end.

I attended Tapani’s session on Immunology last year, and I can assure readers that he is an informative and engaging speaker. Listeners are sure to find his presentation very prepared, clear, and helpful.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chemistry at the Conference

The American Translators Association will hold its Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas November 6–9, 2013. Here is another in our series of posts explaining a little more about the sessions that will be of interest to scientific and technical translators. This should help us better plan which sessions to attend, out of the abundant choices!

Karen Tkaczyk will be presenting Problems, Solutions, and Precipitates: Translating for the Pharmaceutical, Chemical, and Cosmetics Industries (ST-1, Thursday, 11:30am-12:30pm). The brief description from the conference website reads:
“Quality assurance systems and regulatory requirements often drive translation needs in the chemical industry. Translations in this area include standard operating procedures, quality assurance checklists, validation and qualification procedures, and test forms for use in laboratories and manufacturing plants. Through the use of specific examples, the speaker will explain the types of documents that form the backbone of a technical translation practice in this field. The areas that frequently cause problems during translation will also be discussed. Interaction and questions will be welcomed. This session is geared toward technical translators who already do some chemical work and wish to improve their understanding of the subject matter.”

I asked Karen to provide us with a little more information. “I have lots of knowledge I can share that comes from my studies and previous industrial work in the pharmaceutical industry. However, I am not always sure how to frame it. It’s hard to do any broad topic justice in a short time, and to go deeply into a narrow, specific subject might not help very many people. I thought structuring a session in terms of the documents that form the backbone of translation practices like mine was an idea that would work in the time frame. I’ll use examples taken from my own work in recent months, suitably anonymized, to lead a discussion on translating these types of texts, and hopefully how to do it very well. I hope this will help increase subject matter expertise for anyone who attends.”

I asked Karen how advanced this session would be: “It ought to be advanced. If the audience asks basic questions I’ll note them and follow up later with the person who asked. I will keep the discussion during the session more advanced. I’ll assume familiarity with relevant regulatory affairs, good manufacturing and good laboratory practices, and the common methods and techniques used in the industry. I’ll focus on terms and concepts that take time to research in our work, not what is immediately obvious to subject-matter experts. The session will be language neutral. Examples will be in English, and influenced by my experience as an into-English translator who works for both the EU and North American markets.”

It sounds like this presentation will be very pertinent to technical and scientific translators: it’s not translation theory, and it’s not just specialized knowledge in one particular field of science. Instead it will be applied translation practice, tools that can be used across a wide range of texts related to chemistry.