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Technical language in use - where confusion abounds
Thread poster: George Trail

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 10, 2010

The translation project I completed just now was to do with in-building systems: for heating, ventilation and the like. It was from German to English. There was a bit that read "Zu- und Ab- Luftfluss" or something like that. Until I started pondering how best to translate that, I always thought that the English word meant "ventilation" could and did refer to the flow of air in general. But I thought about how best to translate this and settled on "air intake and ventilation". Is "ventilation" in reality only the proper term for the "letting out" of air from something, to prevent excessive pressure build-up?

In those areas referring to water systems, there were times when I thought it best to dedicate more lengthy consideration before deciding whether not to actually appropriate the phrase "water treatment" as the best translation. Think of your average water system in a building - because that's what the original document was about. When you hear or read the phrase "water treatment" in connection with the same, do you agree that it may be used ONLY to indicate the directing of water from one place to another, or the "treating" of it by purifying it or adding certain chemicals to it, whatever; not some half-conception of both?

Finally, let me talk about the particular building amenity solutions offered by a particular company, for their having been accepted by individual hospitals in Russia. For example, the Zito Clinic / Hospital in Moscow. Quoting from the original:

"Krankenhaus Zito-Klinik Moskau, Russland
Einbau von neuen OP-Räumen im bestehenden
Krankenhaus
Gewerke Heizung, Lüftung, Klima, Kälte,
Regeltechnik"

The single word "Krankenhaus" in the the third line, in this context I thought "hospital premises" was better than just "hospital" - wouldn't you agree?


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Are you influenced too much by the German? Apr 10, 2010

George, I believe you are thinking too much and not letting your feel for English be your guide. "Ventilation" in a technical sense (the V in HVAC) is best thought of as "the act of supplying fresh air and getting rid of foul air." My knowledge of technical German is non-existent; still, I suspect that "Zu- und Ab- Luftfluss" can be translated by just that one word: "ventilation."

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George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for that Apr 10, 2010

Dear James,

Thank you for your definition of "ventilation" and your overall opinion. But I don't think I know what you mean by "letting your feel for English be your guide".


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with James ... Apr 10, 2010

... and above all with his suggestion that you are not "letting your feel for English be your guide".

By that I mean (and I'll leave James to confirm - or not - that this is his interpretation also...) that you are being distracted by the (sometimes pedantic) German way of saying things where you would do well to let plain English idiom prevail.

Of course, if you have no 'feel for English', then it's a lost cause, but I guess we should give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

MediaMatrix

[Edited at 2010-04-10 22:47 GMT]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use the Internet Apr 11, 2010

You need related texts on the Internet and see what the industry-standard way of saying things is. You need to develop this skill, but they are judgement calls. It would appear that you are trying to translate to closely to the text. Unfortunately German isn't one of my languages. You are the expert, you reseach on the Internet and having seen the range of possibilities you choose the best alternative.

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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Water treatment Apr 11, 2010

George Trail wrote:
In those areas referring to water systems, there were times when I thought it best to dedicate more lengthy consideration before deciding whether not to actually appropriate the phrase "water treatment" as the best translation. Think of your average water system in a building - because that's what the original document was about. When you hear or read the phrase "water treatment" in connection with the same, do you agree that it may be used ONLY to indicate the directing of water from one place to another, or the "treating" of it by purifying it or adding certain chemicals to it, whatever; not some half-conception of both?


Nope. Water treatment has nothing to do with directing the water from one place to another. That is a supply system (or sewage system to take it away). Treatment is when you make the available water of whatever quality fit for a particular purpose. As you can imagine, the purpose can be numerous, and the treatment is equally varied.

You will find a supply system (pipes, taps, outlets, etc.) in all buildings connected to a water supply.
In the case of a hospital the available drinking water may not be suitable for all purposes, therefore treatment may be required (sterilisation?) but that should be quite clear from the text.

You have to know something about technical processes and technical language in both of your languages to be able to provide a reasonable translation in the subject. You may call it technical jargon, but it exists for a very good reason; to be able to distinguish between the nuances of processes, the variations of products, materials, etc. Like crocheting and knitting, water system and treatment, or sound insulation and noise exclusion describes two different things, and it is not advisable to mix them up.

Confusion abounds when you are not familiar with the processes and the words describing them. You can forgo translating certain subjects, ask help or learn about it.


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StefanR  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:58
English to German
+ ...
Professionalism Apr 12, 2010

The expression or you might say technical term “Zu- und Ab- Luftfluss” is a very precise use by German civil engineers in a contractual context and it does mean something very specific. It’s not a matter of “pendantic” German. It’s a matter of using technical terms correctly for contractual purposes and not leaving any ambiguity.

The translation approach of “pondering how to best translate something” will fail in most cases. The proper approach is to know enough about the subject or finding out what the source text and every single word and expression as well as all symbols in it actually do mean and to such a degree that there is no doubt about it. Additionally, one should have a sufficient command of the specific vocabulary one is translating into and one should also be able to recognize the mistakes of the author of the source text. This is what we as translators are paid for and sometimes it’s very hard work.

“Air intake and ventilation” is definitely not the proper translation and it does show that you have not even grasped what the hyphens in the German text stand for. I agree with “juvera”. It appears that you have taken on a project where you did not have the required expertise to do a proper job in translating.


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George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
- Apr 12, 2010

-

[Edited at 2010-04-13 07:37 GMT]


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xxxDesdemone
Local time: 22:58
French to English
Uh oh Apr 12, 2010

George Trail wrote:

This was via an agency, not between me and a client directly. Someone at the agency with better knowledge in the field than myself will have proofread it.


We all know what comes nexticon_smile.gif


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madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
Exactly my reaction Apr 12, 2010

Paula Rennie wrote:

George Trail wrote:

This was via an agency, not between me and a client directly. Someone at the agency with better knowledge in the field than myself will have proofread it.


We all know what comes nexticon_smile.gif


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:58
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
strange perception of a translator's job Apr 13, 2010

George Trail wrote:

This was via an agency, not between me and a client directly. Someone at the agency with better knowledge in the field than myself will have proofread it.


I must say, this seems to be quite a strange perception of what a translator's job is. What would the agency need you for, then?

In general, agencies should proofread your translations, which means checking for spelling mistakes etc., but what can a proofreader do if the translator doesn't understand the source text and all the implications of its technical terminology correctly? He'll just have to redo the translation...

Edited to add:

He'll just have to redo the translation ... means that he'll have to find an expert who is able to cope with the subject field. There isn't "someone at the agency with better knowledge in the field than" yourself. The agency hired you as that person.



[Bearbeitet am 2010-04-13 07:28 GMT]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Who's the expert here? Apr 13, 2010

In every case it is the translator.

Agencies devote their time to finding clients and admin work. They do not specialise in translation, they just look over the work a bit before sending it off.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:58
French to German
+ ...
This is why and how standards go down the drain. EOM. Apr 13, 2010

Tatty wrote:
Agencies devote their time to finding clients and admin work. They do not specialise in translation, they just look over the work a bit before sending it off.


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