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Poll: In your working fields, do you work on documents that may be considered highly technical?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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Oct 14, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "In your working fields, do you work on documents that may be considered highly technical?".

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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Nope. Oct 14, 2012

Both the client and I would gain nothing from me working on highly technical documents, because the result would in all probability be sub-optimal. Not good for the client, certainly not good for my chances of getting repeat business out of the client. Anything that rises above the level of a user manual for power tools or household equipment is too technical for me...

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:01
English to German
+ ...
Yes -- I work in B-to-B Oct 14, 2012

I am hired for Business-to-Business marketing, advertising and PR translations, which means that I have to understand each and every new technology and machine and whatnot in its entirety before I can describe it in my own words. Chronic headache...

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, sometimes Oct 14, 2012

Although I know that some areas are obviously beyond my grasp, the thing is, I see myself as the oft-despised "capable all rounder" and when I'm working on something I tend not to see it as very technical, because of the very fact that I have accepted it as a "doable" in the first place. It's usually only when other people, especially other translators, comment on the recondite nature or complexity of the content that it brings it home.

I think a common failing in general is assuming that other people share our own knowledge or attitudes. For example, the other day I was quite surprised when a young person in their twenties had never heard of Wikileaks, or when the Spanish teenager sitting next to me in the driving school (I'm currently studying to get a Spanish driving licence) didn't know the meaning of what to me is a common or garden Spanish verb (cerciorarse). What I'm trying to say is that technical complexity is often in the eye of the beholder.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 05:01
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Um, yes. Very Oct 14, 2012

Stands to reason because I am primarily a technical translator and translate stuff that generally 99% of the population in both of my languages wouldn't have a clue about.

But that does not mean I unconditionally translate all fields of industry -- I have chosen to limit myself to fewer areas so that I can focus on these in greater depth. If I am asked to translate something that is regarded as newly emerging technology, I take a thorough look to make sure that I can handle it contentwise, i.e. that it is within my "comfort zone."


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
Member (2006)
German to English
Yes, frequently Oct 14, 2012

and as Julian has already stated, I also only do technical translations. Frequently for specialised fields within my fields, but they are there and need to be satisfied.

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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Technical... Oct 14, 2012

I think that this poll doesn't just apply to technical translations but to specialised translations too. So whether the texts you translate are highly specialised.

In general, I would say that the texts I translate require specialist knowledge in order to translate them correctly. But I do very specialised texts on quite a regular basis, however I must admit that I prefer to do easier translations. That way, I earn more money and I don't get so tired.

I can't believe that someone hadn't heard of Wikileaks, you have to make sure you say Wikilix to be understood though. Cerciorarse is indeed a very common verb. Ignorance is part of life though.


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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
Constantly Oct 14, 2012

As a legal translator I receive all sorts of contracts and they often contain technical annexes. Interestingly, the contract is written by the lawyer and the annexes by the technicians, but I'm always expected to translate the entire document. I've learned an enormous amount in all sorts of technical areas (from rail transport systems, oil and gas prospecting and production to the operation of hydro-electric plants) and spend huge amounts of time doing so, yet I don't market myself as a technical translator. Wouldn't do so either. But my translations are always accepted and repeat work comes to me.

Nonetheless, I'm always on edge when it's in an area I don't understand very well.

I'm always reminded of the interpreter I knew in the old Soviet Union who was hired to translate a conference on nuclear energy. Although she was prepared in the area, she wasn't a nuclear physicist, of course. When she turned to a speaker and asked for an explanation, he barked angrily at her, "you don't have to understand it, just translate it..." Well, of course, not true....


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Quite often Oct 14, 2012

Since some of the fields I work in are Civil Engineering ralted, the translations are highly technical by nature.

Additionally, doing lip-sync translations for the dubbing of educational videos (in all fields ranging from aeronautics to culture and on to scientific topics) is highly technical.

Even the non- CE-related fields I specialize in are quite technical, especially poetry and screenplays, are very technical.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sabe o no sabe Oct 14, 2012

Tatty wrote:
I can't believe that someone hadn't heard of Wikileaks, you have to make sure you say Wikilix to be understood though. Cerciorarse is indeed a very common verb. Ignorance is part of life though.



It was on the quiz-type show on Canal Cuatro, I think it's called "Lo sabe, no lo sabe" or similar. People have to pick a passer-by who they think can or can't answer a trivia/general knowledge type question and in this case the young man in question was totally baffled.
But then again, on Saber y Ganar the other day, where the level of the questions is usually a bit higher, none of the 3 contestants knew that "urdimbre" was the common collocation with "trama" in textiles, which I did, although I've never worked in that area. I'd just leant it off in its day as a pair, like "milk and sugar", etc...


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:01
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Quite often Oct 14, 2012

One of my main fields of work is medicine: active and non-active medical devices, African pathologies (mainly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria), obstetrics and gynecology... In general, I do like challenging texts (if well-written)!

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Claudia Cherici  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:01
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
All the time Oct 14, 2012

ehr..yes, all the time, in fact, highly technical translation is what I do, 90% of the time. With some simpler stuff in-between when I need to take my mind off advanced engineering or medicine...

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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 14:01
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Always Oct 14, 2012

Patents.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Highly technical...or not too technical Oct 14, 2012

Since project managers use a great deal of subjective criteria to judge whether a piece is technical or highly technical, it's obviously logical to always request a sample and let us be the judge of that.

Does anyone remember when translators used to charge one rate for general text and a higher rate for technical text?

Speaking of technical, I'm confronted with a dilemma: a client approached me to take charge of an oil & gas translation project. I told her: it's not my field but, do you have a seasoned proofreader or translator to do to review? She says: Yes. We have a translation memory so I feel I can entrust you with the project.

Your thoughts?

Whether a text is just technical or highly technical depends, in my view, on the degree of familiarity with not just the terminology but with the principles, theories or concepts being discussed. For example, we all know what a heart is and what heart rhythm is, but have you seen an EKG report with its attendant alphabet soup? I have, and it's curiously challenging, because one needs to understand how an EKG works, how the heart works, what kind of waves it creates in the EKG to come to understand those acronyms properly.

We all know what's going on when a project manager approaches us with the phrase: it's not too technical.


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Susanna Martoni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:01
Member (2009)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Yes Oct 14, 2012

Very technical translations.
Most of the time.


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