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Poll: Are you a technical translator?/ Do you use CAT tools?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
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SITE STAFF
May 16, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are you a technical translator?/ Do you use CAT tools?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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xxxAnukriti
English to Bengali
+ ...
Who is a technical translator? May 16, 2006

I am not sure of the definition of a technical translator. Does it refer to a translator who translates "technical" subjects? In that sense I am not a technical translator. However, sometimes I have to translate repetitive texts where the help of a CAT tool is apparent. Sometimes I discover, while translating a file, that I translated something similar two years ago and it saves me some time which often helps with tight deadlines.

But even without the memory it helps my speed, it is incredibly kind to my eyes (something I discovered while using it) and if I don't lose my vision and go blind some day, the credit should go partly to a CAT tool! It also saves me from constantly having that worry in the back of my mind that I am missing a line or a sentence. That way it is saving mental energy and I feel less tired. Perhaps it is this benefit, more than the memory and the glossary and the thousand other features and options, that will make me use a CAT tool.


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:20
English to Polish
+ ...
I don't know how to vote May 16, 2006

Technical translations are just one of my 3 fields, and I am a Wordfast newbie. Where do I fit?

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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:20
German to English
+ ...
The incredible complexity of typology May 16, 2006

I agree with Anukriti that the definition of technical translating is far from clear. My man special subjects are legal contracts and texts related to architecture/building/property ("real estate" to some of us). The texts related to architecture/building/property sometimes come in the form of flowery descriptions of the oh-so-wonderful design (i.e. architecture as an art form), sometimes as technical descriptions of components or materials, sometimes as unabated legalese or marketese.

Does that make me a technical translator? That is a matter of opinion, but on balance I feel no. In fact, defining criteria for how technical our work is would require a whole questionnaire. A one-liner in a multiple choice poll comes rather short of the mark.

But I would not be without my CAT program, even for the arty texts. This opens up a whole new minefield of possible questionnaire topics. Do we use CAT for productivity alone? What influence does it have on quality? Do we in fact save time by using CAT, or does it "merely" make our work more consistent? Does this make our work better, or do we fall into the trap of staying too close to the original or of using "translatorese" words and phrases that sound unnatural in the target language? What CAT programs do we use, where do we see the benefits and drawbacks?

Normally I am one who suggests that the argument from productivity is misplaced except for work on repetitive industrial texts (i.e. technical in the narrowest sense), and that my CAT (DVX) is primarily a quality tool. But over the last couple of weeks I have suddenly landed a couple of massive jobs with enormous productivity gains, so that even with large discounts for repetitions these two weeks will have been more lucrative than a normal working month. And that is with legal and property texts (property valuations and land purchase contracts), with sentences that can sometimes be as much as 100 words long.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:20
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Quick definition of technical/non technical May 16, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

... the definition of technical translating is far from clear.



This quick poll has been launched following yesterday's question. See my posting, in http://www.proz.com/post/345677#345677
where I attempted a very personal and succint definition:

Technical: requiring extensive reference to specialistic terminology and common stock sentences. In any field!

Non technical: fiction, marketing, arts, and creative writing in general.


* * *

I am mostly a technical translator, and use extensively my CAT tools for the first category of jobs, whether it is required or not by the customer.

I prefer instead not to use them, unless specifically required, for the occasional creative job (marketing), as I find that CAT tools tend to interfere with the flow of my writing.


Gianfranco


[Edited at 2006-05-16 09:05]


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Robert Fong  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:20
English to Chinese
+ ...
I feel the same May 16, 2006

Anukriti wrote:

But even without the memory it helps my speed, it is incredibly kind to my eyes (something I discovered while using it) and if I don't lose my vision and go blind some day, the credit should go partly to a CAT tool! It also saves me from constantly having that worry in the back of my mind that I am missing a line or a sentence. That way it is saving mental energy and I feel less tired. Perhaps it is this benefit, more than the memory and the glossary and the thousand other features and options, that will make me use a CAT tool.


I'm a technical translator. To me, CAT tools are fun and I feel more comfortable when using them. I have been using Trados, SDLX, Dejavu, Transit, Wordfast, IBM translation manager, etc.


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
What's in a name? May 16, 2006

Gianfranco Manca wrote:

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

... the definition of technical translating is far from clear.



This quick poll has been launched following yesterday's question. See my posting, in http://www.proz.com/post/345677#345677
where I attempted a very personal and succint definition:

Technical: requiring extensive reference to specialistic terminology and common stock sentences. In any field!

Non technical: fiction, marketing, arts, and creative writing in general.





Gianfranco
]



I'm afraid I don't agree with this definition. It's very misleading in English and means we are all technical translators to some extent. To me, technical is nuts and bolts, engineering and such. I do legal and would never consider and/or advertise myself as a 'technical' translator. Apart from stock legalese terminology, which I can remember myself without depending on CAT (how did human achievements ever come about before the computer age? Ever wonder how da Vinci managed? ), up to now, I've been spared the type of repetitive texts that could make CAT interesting and consequently have been spared the nightmare-like problems it seems to cause those who do work with it.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
I am not / I do May 16, 2006

I am not / I have to

Au


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:20
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Clarification May 16, 2006

writeaway wrote:
I'm afraid I don't agree with this definition. It's very misleading in English and means we are all technical translators to some extent. To me, technical is nuts and bolts, engineering and such.


Not really. Nuts and bolts, engines, industrial machinery and the like are technical translation in "engineering/mechanics", not more and not less technical than many other fields.
In particular, as a technical translator, the nuts and bolts are only one of my technical fields, and software, hardware, electronics, etc. are also included, without a nut or a bolt in sight.


writeaway wrote:
I do legal and would never consider and/or advertise myself as a 'technical' translator.


According to my definition, in your field, as you use recurrent and specialized terminology, stock phrases and you have little margin for creative writing your subject can be considered "technical", in a broad sense, and not "creative writing".

You could benefit from CAT tools but your preference is not to use them. A perfectly legitimate choice, but my definition may still be applicable and it makes pefectly sense.


Gianfranco


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:20
German to English
+ ...
"technical" in English usage May 16, 2006

Gianfranco Manca wrote:
Not really. Nuts and bolts, engines, industrial machinery and the like are technical translation in "engineering/mechanics", not more and not less technical than many other fields.
In particular, as a technical translator, the nuts and bolts are only one of my technical fields, and software, hardware, electronics, etc. are also included, without a nut or a bolt in sight.
writeaway wrote:
I do legal and would never consider and/or advertise myself as a 'technical' translator.

According to my definition, in your field, as you use recurrent and specialized terminology, stock phrases and you have little margin for creative writing your subject can be considered "technical", in a broad sense, and not "creative writing".


Hi Gianfranco,

As a native English speaker, I find your use of "technical translator" to include subjects such as Law and Finance slightly unorthodox. I agree with "writeaway" in regarding technical as primarily "nuts and bolts", although I would also regard computer hardware/software and electronics as part of "technical translation". But I would not extend the use of the term to areas such as Law, Finance, Marketing, stamp collecting, chess, soccer etc., although these areas all have their own very definite terminology and usage (and this could lead to productivity gains in some text types).

In certain very specific contexts the word "technical" can be used in other fields (e.g. "barrister" is a TECHNICAL TERM in the English legal system), but speaking of legal translating as if it were equal with technical translating is at least misleading.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 17:20
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
creative / non creative May 16, 2006

Thank you Victor,

I intended to separate creative writing (fiction, marketing, etc.) from any other field, called for the sake of simplification non creative, and there I included all types of technical subjects, or any field where a specialised terminology and stock phrases are common (one of the possible points of advantages when using a CAT tool).

I'm sorry if the words I used have been not very clear, but I tried to illustrate the concept listing a number of examples.

bye
Gianfranco

[Edited at 2006-05-16 12:11]


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:20
German to English
+ ...
CAT and creativity May 16, 2006

Gianfranco Manca wrote:
I intended to separate creative writing (fiction, marketing, etc.) from any other field, called for the sake of simplification non creative, and there I included all types of technical subjects, or any field where a specialised terminology and stock phrases are common (one of the possible points of advantages when using a CAT tool).


Thanks for the clarification. The intention of your poll covers 2 very legitimate issues (correlation between CAT and different subject fields, correlation between CAT and different text types). I suppose these issues are involved to some extent in all forum discussions about translation memory systems and machine translation - and I am sure that we will not run out of ideas to explore here.

For the record, I use DVX for all text types, including the occasional marketing texts. But I don't do fiction or the more imaginative type of creative text (so perhaps I do fall under your very specific definition of technical).

One reason for my consistent use of DVX is the help it offers at the sub-segment level (words and whole phrases), partly through the terminology database and project-specific lexicon, partly through the concordance search. But it is also important to preserve a sceptical mind - the word or phrase that I used in a previous project or stored in my terminology database may not be appropriate (in content or style) for my present context.
And my own database is, of course, not my only terminology and corpus research resource. I often look things up via Google (mainly with just one click by using Michael Farrell's programm IWS from http://www.intelliwebsearch.com/index.html ).
So your poll covers a wide variety of needs, subjects, text types, ways of working etc.


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 13:20
English to French
+ ...
Not that cut and dry May 16, 2006

Gianfranco Manca wrote:

You could benefit from CAT tools but your preference is not to use them.



Gianfranco,

I think this is really on a case-by-case basis. I am a technical translator like writeaway and, like her, I do not use CAT tools because they would be more of a hassle than anything else, possibly because of my personal translation techniques.
I think people's styles should not be underestimated.


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:20
Spanish to English
Cat tools and translation styles May 16, 2006

[/quote]

Gianfranco,

.....I do not use CAT tools because they would be more of a hassle than anything else, possibly because of my personal translation techniques.
I think people's styles should not be underestimated. [/quote]


Perhaps another topic?
I use Wordfast as my CAT tool (which I have to say is not as complicated to use as others).
Surely, if the CAT tool is yours and has your own specific translation memory and terminology (not added glossaries and terminology from other sources), would it not start to develop your translation technique?


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 22:20
English to German
+ ...
CAT tools Vs. memory repeats!! May 16, 2006

Hi all,

atleast that is what Trados argues and gew up to be a huge company " you don´t have to repeat the same translation or the similar" now we are faced with all the repeats in our TMs , where the outsourcers seek discounts. Bes Brandis


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