Friday, January 6, 2017

A Review of Raquel Yáker Alazrachi's Glossary of Petroleum, Environment and Natural Gas, English-Spanish, Spanish-English, Second Edition

By Clarisa Moraña

I still remember my first translation as a free-lancer, a triplex pump handbook for a leading oil & gas service company, more than 25 years ago. I knew for sure what a “pump” was, but the term “triplex pump” puzzled me! Besides, I had to deal, for the first time in my life, with specific terminology such as the name of every single pump component. The technical bilingual dictionaries highly recommended by our translation teachers at my university[1] in Caracas failed to provide me with satisfactory terminology. That first paid translation job became a sort of detective work: every single term had to be carefully researched in specialized books and trade magazines. I asked bilingual field engineers to confirm the terms but I used them reluctantly; I was afraid that the chosen terms would be rejected by the client. It turned out that my terminology research was successful, and that the client accepted my proposals.

The lack of a single specialized dictionary for all the oil and gas fields I was translating led me to create my own spreadsheet with all the researched terms (At that time, I wished there was a magic tool able to populate my translations with the approved terminology! Today I’ve converted that spreadsheet into a tbx file and I use it with my favorite CAT tool!). I used to print a hard copy of that spreadsheet as a reference for my translations. I still have this hard copy in my bookcase, and I read it from time to time. Terms such as fluid end, roughneck, shale shaker, off-set were some of the difficult terms in my own oil and gas term base. There weren’t any specialized glossaries containing all of them.

As many passionate translators do, I never hesitate to purchase every bilingual dictionary that happens to appear in front of me, whatever the subject may be. That’s why I have plenty of exploration, drilling, and refining glossaries and dictionaries in my bookcase. And that’s why one day I invested all the money I had in my purse to buy a new bilingual glossary on oil and gas as soon as I saw it at a translation conference in Buenos Aires. I only realized that I’d made one of the best investments of my life for an oil & gas technical dictionary one week later, when the conference ended and I had time to flip through my new book.

The first sign that the Glossary of Petroleum, Environment and Natural Gas, English-Spanish, Spanish-English/Glosario de petróleo, ambiente y gas natural, inglés-español, español-inglés (the first edition) was going to be good was the fact that I was from Venezuela, a leading oil country, with almost 100 years of petroleum industry history, and proud to use a good Spanish terminology in technical fields. While the name of the author -Raquel Yaker- was new to me (I have not lived in Venezuela since 1994), I recognized the name of some of my former colleagues at university in the acknowledgments: they had been among the best students of my class and others had studied at another well-known Venezuelan university! I was sure that I had found a treasure, and this was confirmed as soon as I started to use the glossary. Soon the editorial house published the second edition, which was an updated version, with more terms, and I bought it immediately. In general terms, Yaker’s glossary is a comprehensive dictionary, the most complete I’ve seen until now; it considers the various terms used in different Spanish-speaking countries. It contains triplex pump, fluid end, shale shaker, roughneck and all those terms that had been a headache for me in the past, and with its over 70,000 entries, I’m sure that the glossary will provide me with acceptable terms for my translations. It also includes synonyms, acronyms, and abbreviations, useful color illustrations, data tables, and more.

Experience has shown me that there is not a single field to translate when translating for the oil and gas industry. In fact, it can be subdivided in upstream, midstream, and downstream, but it will always contain health, safety, and environmental terminology. Also, the Spanish terminology will vary according to the target Spanish speaking country the translation is for: the English word shale, for instance, might be translated as ripio in Venezuela, esquisto pizarroso in Colombia or pizarra in Mexico. This Glossary of Petroleum… will include many of the different terms used in Latin American countries. While I do not always agree with the provided terminology (for instance, for the English term shale-shaker the glossary proposes colador vibratorio, which in fact is also proposed in other technical dictionaries, but it is never used in the oil and gas jargon, and fails to propose temblorina, a word widely used in Colombia).

In brief, any translator or interpreter for the oil and gas industry for the Spanish-English, or English-Spanish pair should invest in this oeuvre. It is the specialized dictionary I always dreamed of, since that very first day I started to work as a translator!

Additional information about the Glossary of Petroleum, Environment and Natural Gas, English-Spanish, Spanish-English/Glosario de petróleo, ambiente y gas natural, inglés-español, español-inglésRaquel Yáker Alazrachi, second edition, 2012. ISBN 978-6713-04-08 can be found here.

About the Author:
Clarisa Moraña is a Spanish-speaking technical translator and trainer. She studied translation at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. She worked as an in-house contributor to the international news agency United Press International, and as a freelance translator for oil service companies in the Schlumberger group, namely Dowell, Schlumberger, Anadrill, and Geco-Prakla in the late 1980s in Caracas. In 1994, she moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she translated for the leading local newspaper Clarin. She then worked as a freelancer for international oil and gas companies, translation agencies, and provided online and in-house training for translators (primarily in computer-assisted translation tools)

[1] Escuela de Idiomas Modernos, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas.


  1. Thank you for this interesting information!

    I have a good glossary for oil and gas, it's Glossary of the Petroleum Industry, English-Spanish & Spanish-English. But it's only 25,000 terms.


    1. That one looks good too Jesse! Three times cheaper used on Amazon and from what little I read about the author it looks reputable.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.