Features of translation of texts on science and technology

technical translationScientific and technological progress has touched upon many areas of our lives, including the field of translation. Sci-tech translation can not only be considered a particular type of translation, but as a separate vocational discipline. From a linguistic point of view, features of translation of sci-tech texts apply to their stylistics, grammar and lexicon. The primary task of sci-tech translation is the maximally possible clear and accurate communication of information to the reader. Completion of this task can be ensured with the help of logical communication of the material with any unnecessary emotion.

Given today’s modern technically educated society, it’s unlikely that there is a translator, oral or otherwise, that has never worked with technical texts. Even those translators that only work with literal translations often come across elements of sci-tech texts in literary works.

In cases of technical translation, at first one needs to understand the situation described in the source. The abundance of references complicates the translation process. Translator has to know the technical terms well, as well as to understand the subject in order to have an opportunity to describe the situation even if there is no such explanation in the source. In addition, a technical translator has to comply with stylistic requirements so that the text is clear to a specialist.

Features of sci-tech texts

  1. Lack of emotion

It should be noted that, for example, in technical English, there could be elements of imagery which nevertheless shouldn’t be included in the translated text.

  1. Strive for clarity and brevity

Strive for clarity is expressed in usage of clear grammatical constructions and lexical units, as well as wide usage of terminology. Normally, widely accepted terms are used, although terminoids (terms used within the narrow circles) which highly complicate the translation process also exist. Such texts also usually include abbreviations and keys.

  1. Specific semantics of certain colloquial-like words

Changing the meaning of the words used in everyday speech is one of the most productive ways to create new terms.

For example, the English word “Stroke” is presumed to mean “Hit” in the everyday speech, whereas in sci-tech texts it acquires the meaning of “piston move”. This feature of words is the most dangerous source of problems and errors for a beginner translator.

So, the main stylistic feature of sci-tech texts is a clear and accurate interpretation of the materials without any expressive elements which are usually used for adding emotion. Such texts are almost completely devoid of metaphors and other stylistic features of linguistic expression. However, although scientific texts are far removed from colloquial language, they contain many neutral phraseological units belonging to the subject of technology.

The main requirements of sci-tech translation include preserving the accuracy (all units of the source text must be reflected in the translation), brevity (all units of the source text must be translated laconically), clarity (brevity and laconic phrase in the translation language shouldn’t get in the way of understanding the lexicon), conformity with norms (translated text has to correspond with the accepted norms of the literary language without usage of syntax structures of the language of the original).