This is the second blog post on workshops I attended at the 2011 ITI conference. This time I’m going to focus on tips I picked up from Karen Tkaczyk, a freelance technical translator.
Now you’ll know from reading about my translation specialisms that I’m not a technical translator. In fact before attending this talk I didn’t really know much this field of translation. Attending this session was one way of filling this knowledge gap.
As it turns out, I didn’t just find out about technical translation, I also picked up some general tips that are, I think, applicable to any translator. Here is a selection of the tips I jotted down during Karen’s presentation:
• Clear sentences usually include no more than 21 words.
I hadn’t heard this advice before and it sounds like a good rule to follow. I’ll be checking my sentence length when reviewing future translations. Of course there may be times when you need to break this rule, for example when translating legislation.
• Watch out for ‘of’ in your English target text. And convert _tion into _ing:
Karen suggested that FR to EN translators look out for these when reviewing our completed translations. Why? Because a language such as French uses strong nouns. English tends to prefer strong verbs. If you’re not careful you’ll end up copying the French sentence structure instead of converting this into something that sounds more natural in English. Take this French sentence for example: “la préparation des documents n’était pas si difficile que je pensais”. This can be translated as: “The preparation of the documents wasn’t as difficult as I thought.” It doesn’t sound very English though. If an English person wanted to communicate the same message, they would probably turn the noun (preparation) into a verb (preparing), eg: “Preparing the documents for tomorrow’s morning wasn’t as difficult as I thought”.
• Focus on the user
With any translation you need to now WHO is going to read the document you’re about to translate. This helps you select the register and tone and decide whether to include any translator’s notes to explain complex terms. The next post in this series will focus on working away from home.