Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Foundations of Translation - Lesson 5

(These are the notes for a course on Foundations of Translation I taught at the University College of the University of Denver. A short description of the course cam be found here).

Translation Quality, Ethics and Final Test

Translation Quality

Translation Quality Control

    (Procedures to improve the quality of translation during the translation process)
  • Quality of the source language
  • Instructions
  • Style guides
  • Project glossaries

Translation Quality Assessment

Pitfalls for beginning translators

  • Knowling the language is not enough
  • Undertranslation/Overtranslation
    • Undertranslation
      • Improper terminology
      • Using a style that adheres too closely to the original text
      • Ignores idiomatic or cultural usage
    • Overtranslation
      • Tends to read fluently
      • May appear masterful
      • Questionable accuracy
        (See "The Translator's Tightrope: Recognizing and Avoiding Overtranslation", by John Rock, ATA Chronicle, June 2006)

Translation Ethics

Narrow (traditional) definition

  • Unethical to [willfully] distort the meaning of the SL text
  • What about when this is required by the customer?
  • What about when he/she is asked to translate something he or she finds offensive?
    • e.g. Translation of pornography
    • Translation of racist texts
  • What about if it is for a "good" purpose (e.g., in a trial)?

Responsibilities of the translator (discussion)


Class exercise: project managing a translation

Suggestion on how to improve one's vocabulary


    Provide your own answers to the following questions:
  1. What's the difference between translation and interpreting?
  2. What kind of jobs are open to translators?
  3. In your opinion, for a professional translator, do language skills count more than subject-matter knowledge, or less? Explain the reasons for your choice.
  4. Provide a description of a translation workflow, including steps to be performed before the actual translation, and after it.
  5. What kind of knowledge is important for a translator to have, and why?
  6. If you were to work as a translation project manager, what steps would you perform in order to ensure that the work you receive is of good quality?
  7. List a few types of translation errors, and what you would do in order to avoid them in your own work.
  8. In Lesson 5 we briefly discussed some ethical problems a translator might encounter. Can you think of other ethical or moral problems we may have to tackle as translators? Please, briefly describe them.

Course evaluation

Notes from the previous lessons in this course:

Foundations of Translation - Course Description
Foundations of Translation - Lesson 1: Difference between translation and interpreting
Foundations of Translation - Lesson 2: Jobs for translators
Foundations of Translation - Lesson 3: Characteristics of a good translator
Foundations of Translation - Lesson 4: Translation in Practice

Course on Translation for the Pharmaceutical Industry

I've just seen an announcement for this course (La Traduzione di Testi Scientifici per la Ricerca e l’Industria Farmaceutica), which will be held in Milan between March and May of this year.

The teacher is a biologist and free-lance translator, and (from what I could learn from their site), has also taught other translation-related subjects.

Monday, January 22, 2007

SDL/Trados Support Looking Up?

"If you have any comments, please email my manager..."

The back cover of the current ATA Chronicle is a big ad from SDL/Trados, with a letter from Keith Laska, Vice President, SDL TRADOS Technologies, announcing new customer service initiatives:

"This year you'll be able to escalate issues directly to my management team, and to me [...] Why not start now? If you have any comments on our level of customer service, please email me [...]"

I have been unhappy with the quality of Trados, and also with the quality of the support, so I thought I might give it a try, and see if this was just a publicity stunt, or if they actually meant it.

So, on Friday I emailed Keith, with a list of complaints. I was not expecting much, but this morning I received a call from Keith, who wanted to get more details on the issues I had. He also said that I would receive a call from a local "Customer Success Manager", and in fact this morning I was also received a long call from David Noiseux, who asked more questions about the details of the issues I have had with Trados.

It is early to tell if things are really improving, but at least they seem to be moving in the right direction.