"Jargon" vs "terminology"
Thread poster: George Trail

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:09
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 9, 2010

I've recently been reminded - rather cruelly - that I have my limits when it comes to terminological awareness. I recently submitted my translation of a technical construction document (German to English) that was fine if not for their stubborn refusal to forgive certain expressions that, even if they are not the right specialist terms, should have been enough to pass for reflecting the correct technical information (it was only company online advertising). Here are just a few examples:

ORIGINAL MY TRANSLATION CORRECT TRANSLATION

Massivwand Mass wall Massive wall
Abhebegerät Withdrawal device Listing device
Schallschutzwand Noise control wall Sound insulating wall
Böschungswand Embankment wall Slope wall
Einsatzbilder Usage pictures Application images

Now, I can't help but notice that all the words in the correct translations are words that are used all the time in more general speech and writing; as far as I'm concerned, the correct translations are examples of "terminology". Something like "broadband", or "modem", I call that "jargon" of modern IT.

But at the end of the day, I can claim all I want that I've "learned my lesson", but will it show in my translation work to come? My last translation project was a contract - an area that, I have to admit, I'm more comfortable in. It was from French to English, and I always knew better than to translate, "dans les meilleurs délais" as anything like "in the best delays". But I'm thinking of the bits where it said that it sought to outline / define this, that or the other. Contracts, for their authoritative nature, should be able to state with conviction that they "define" such things; but given that people can and do place different interpretations on regulations, and everyone knows it, and given that there is no foolproof method that lets one party know for sure that another party has indeed "properly understood" all the terms and conditions of something, it is all to easy to end up using the phrase "aim to define", if you ask me.

But other than that, that project went without a hitch.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Suggestion Apr 9, 2010

Advertising/marketing is a tough area to translate as it needs to sound good, so you shouldn't translate close to the text. I always look at how other companies in the same sector have presented their product information. As I can't lift the exact expressions from anyone else's site I mix and match and merge til I come up with something that sounds great. A company will usually know the English terms for its products or constituent parts which is why you have to make sure that your terminology/jargon is correct, otherwise you will be caught out. A godsend is if the company has an American or British subsidiary, then you can lift all the expressions you like, without worrying about plagarism.

"dans les meilleurs délais" = as soon as practicable - this phrase has been the subject-matter of numerous court cases, but it is still used extensively in law and legal writings.

Just a little knockback, chin up, now.


 

David Eunice  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 13:09
Japanese to English
Saying "Only advertising" is like saying "Your baby is ugly." Apr 9, 2010

George Trail wrote:
(it was only company online advertising).


You say that very lightly, and in parentheses.

The purpose of a contract is to establish a legal situation.
The text is highly formal and the translation is usually straightforward.

Advertising or publicity is intended to sell products.
The translator should be very aware of that.

Tatty's mix and match advice is pretty sound for getting
a feel for the terminology. I think that it is also useful to
read books on ad writing and ad writers (some are very
entertaining and generally sensitizing).

If you are properly briefed, or reasonably experienced,
you might be able to better help the translated text
achieve its purpose.

I know very few translators who welcome the special challenges
of advertising materials, particularly the kind of poorly conceived
copy that is often written in house.

CORRECT TRANSLATION

There is rarely a "correct" translation.
chien/hund/dog work well as equivalents in most contexts,
but, unless the text was about the Iditarod race,
"my dogs are tired" would probably not be so easily translatable.

So think of it more as "(client's) preferred translation."
The problem is more ignorance than rectitude.

Preferred terminology are often contains poor translations.
E.g., Panasonic prefers handshake for "camera shake" or "jitter".
Often enough edits are, basically, made by ediots.

I sometimes encounter translation buyers who make arbitrary changes
to finely honed copy. When they get charged for feedback,
they don't usually ask for my help again.
I keep end clients who recognize that I produce text that appeals to
to prospective user of their goods or services. They don't criticize
if a word or two doesn't conform to their preferences (or precedent).
They understand that I am on their team and want the brand to win.
If you can't leave your cynicism aside and believe (in the way
a good actor acts) that the product adds something to the world,
it is probably better to stick to contracts, manuals, patents,
and similar source texts.

I wouldn't beat yourself up. Good translators learn all the time.
And learning means noticing your mistakes and being aware that
there is room for improvement. That is rarely a comfortable feeling.


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:09
German to Spanish
+ ...
Jargon" vs "terminology" Apr 9, 2010

George Trail wrote:

I've recently been reminded - rather cruelly - that I have my limits when it comes to terminological awareness. I recently submitted my translation of a technical construction document (German to English) that was fine if not for their stubborn refusal to forgive certain expressions that, even if they are not the right specialist terms, should have been enough to pass for reflecting the correct technical information (it was only company online advertising). Here are just a few examples:

ORIGINAL MY TRANSLATION CORRECT TRANSLATION

Massivwand Mass wall Massive wall
Abhebegerät Withdrawal device Listing device
Schallschutzwand Noise control wall Sound insulating wall
Böschungswand Embankment wall Slope wall
Einsatzbilder Usage pictures Application images

Now, I can't help but notice that all the words in the correct translations are words that are used all the time in more general speech and writing; as far as I'm concerned, the correct translations are examples of "terminology". Something like "broadband", or "modem", I call that "jargon" of modern IT.

But at the end of the day, I can claim all I want that I've "learned my lesson", but will it show in my translation work to come? My last translation project was a contract - an area that, I have to admit, I'm more comfortable in. It was from French to English, and I always knew better than to translate, "dans les meilleurs délais" as anything like "in the best delays". But I'm thinking of the bits where it said that it sought to outline / define this, that or the other. Contracts, for their authoritative nature, should be able to state with conviction that they "define" such things; but given that people can and do place different interpretations on regulations, and everyone knows it, and given that there is no foolproof method that lets one party know for sure that another party has indeed "properly understood" all the terms and conditions of something, it is all to easy to end up using the phrase "aim to define", if you ask me.

But other than that, that project went without a hitch.


Maybe yo would like to take a look at this very similar forum: http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_theory_and_practice/97930-technical_texts:_linguistic_correction_versus_professional_slang.html#793240


 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:09
French to English
+ ...
Accuracy is everything in this business Apr 9, 2010

Hi George,

It's just one long learning curve in this game, I'm afraid. Companies tend to have their own in-house jargon and woe betide you if you don't use it! I always try to ask for a glossary if they have one, or, as Tatty says, check and double-check for equivalents on-line, either on your particular company's site or other related companies. Other than that, if you're lucky enough to be given feedback, just note it down for future reference and learn from the experience. I know we all hate criticism of any form but it does keep us on our toes and makes us better translators in the long run.


 


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