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Technical English traps that translator can fall into.

cze 26

English is considered as an international language when it comes to technical issues. Technical language is used in the manuals of various machines and appliances or in the guides made by specialist for laymen. Most likely every manual consists of a part written in English.

The grammar of that type of text is extremely simplified, virtually only The Simple Present Tense is sufficient. However, the language is filled with specific technical terminology, which  rules out the literal translation and can cause some problems to the translator, who does not know it very well. That’s why the translators who specialize in that type of texts are usually males.

During the translation, a technical language dictionary is often needed, because it’s rather impossible to know every term in particular in the technical field  What can also cause some troubles are the names of some units of measurement which can be difficult to translate, because of its alternation in different languages. Despite that English is a commonly used language in the technical world, there are some, let’s say “weird” units, distinguish for UK. The most obvious is “in” (inch), which must be converted into more international unit, which is “cm”. There is also “lb” (pound), with its commonly used equivalent of “kg” (kilograms). Another example is “hp” (horsepower), which is an outdated unit used in Anglo-Saxon countries for measuring the power and it was replaced with “kW” (kilowatt), not to mention the unit of “bhp” (brake horsepower).

The technical language text must be characterized by terseness, internal consistency and steel logic of construction. There is no room for digressions. You can tell, that scientific mind helps in that kind of translations. Translator also need to be familiar with specific structure of the technical texts.

From my experience, gained while working as a proofreader, when I faced a few manuals, I suggest, in the first place not to bother about the length of the text. The specific expressions and terminology are often repeated and the tenses do not need sophisticated or literary style, so the work runs pretty smoothly. Of course I had to use specific dictionaries while checking, but sometimes work of the translator was wrong and the knowledge of the field was required to correct it. But, this was not a problem, because then I was simply asking for advise the specialists in the technical field .

(PS)

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