Working with Glossaries

29 08 2012

Well, I have been fortunate enough to manage terminology and consistency in group translations into Portuguese and English and I find working with glossaries very handy, both for harmonization and revision.

I usually provide my translators with a bilingual glossary created in Excel format, very simple…In addition to implementing all the terms in the glossary, I ask them to add the terms they research to it as well. However, they don’t just add terms; the latter must be approved by myself or whoever is revising the translation. So, they highlight the new terms with a specific color, usually yellow, and deliver it with every partial delivery of the translation.

The reviser goes over the terms, and approves or changes the translation, highlighting all of the new terms (amended or not) in a new colour, usually blue.

The reviser does that for all translators and consolidates all of the new terms highlighted in blue in a single version of the glossary.

Also, if any changes have been made to the translation of terms since the last version of the glossary, the reviser highlights those in a different color as well, usually red.

This version is then resent to all translators and they are asked to read through the new terms and implement the changes or new terms as appropriate.

After delivering that file to all translators, the reviser removes the highlights from all the terms and saves the official final version of the glossary. This is done every time translators deliver a new partial version of the translation, so that the glossary is enhanced and approved throughout the process and each time only the relevant terms are highlighted.

I find this really useful to help translators align the translation during the process of translation. This simplifies the work of the reviser and really helps translators in their terminology research.





Researching Terminology

13 08 2012

I am working on a technical manual for a mining company and I have come across a term that I will need to research a bit more thoroughly so I will show you step by step how I usually go about it.

The term in Portuguese is “madeira contraventada” (which is wood + a female adjective) and the manual is talking about types of rail cars made of this material. I want to translate it into English.

My first attempt at finding it is going to Proz Terminology and trying to find it there. No luck. The only thing I can find there is the opposite of the male word “não-contraventado“, which is “unbraced”. A long shot would say that “madeira contraventada” would be “braced wood”. I am not sure that “braced wood” is a term in English, Google translator (and this is one of the few acceptable uses for  google translator in professional translation -i.e. a word guide) does not have a translation for “contraventada” anyway.

So my next step, is to determine exactly what contraventada is in Portuguese. According to the dictionary, it means “supported, strengthened, made more resistant”, which seems to match the meaning found for “braced” in my hardcopy English<>Portuguese dictionary.

This is promising, so I do a quick search on Google UK to see if it comes up with entries for “braced wood”. (Important tip: make sure you search exclusively websites from an English-speaking country; do not go into Google Brazil and try to find it, because you may find several mistranslations that will mislead you into thinking you have got the right term. If you are Brazilian, you probably construe meaning in a similar way to other Brazilians, so a translation that may seem to make sense to you, because it did for another Brazilian, will not necessarily be the right term).  There are 3,140 entries, which is not that much in Google terms, but the term has been found in websites such as the “Engineered Wood Products Association“, which seems to be a reputable agency in the U.S. in the relevant industry.

Hence, I am satisfied that I have a good, or at least understandable, translation for my term.

I hope this process is helpful to other translators. Suggestions are always welcome.

 





My Journey (Part I)

13 08 2012

Well, what can I say? I did not become a translator by choice; I truly believe that it was my calling. As I tell my story, you’ll see that I have veered away from translation time and time again, but it has always found its way back into my life.

I am Brazilian and I first decided to learn a second language when I was 7. My parents took us on a holiday to Mexico and there were kids from all nationalities in our hotel. I remember being really curious as to what they were saying and desperately wanting to interact with them. I asked my mom what language would I have to speak if I wanted to communicate with as many of them as possible and she said: “English”. There and then I decided that I would speak English.

It took my mother two years to allow me to start taking English lessons and when she finally did I was hooked for ever. I can safely say that I have been an English student since.

By the age of 13 I had gone through all levels of English classes available in my school and in my town, so the school offered me a part-time job teaching English in their computer lab to keep me interested. Indeed, that kept me very interested for a while. I loved teaching, loved the challenge of having to explain things and try to find ways for people to be motivated by language and, of course, loved having a bit of pocket-money. I also got involved with AFS, which is an NGO with a very interesting mission (I will try to write a post about that as well, because this is an organization worth talking about). With AFS I had the opportunity to meet and talk to exchange students from all over the world, and had my first experiences with translation.

Nonetheless, by the age 15 I felt there was nothing else I could learn on my own, and if I wanted to speak English properly I would have to live in an English-speaking country.

That is exactly what I did (after two years of trying to convince my parents and finally succeeding) and in January 2000 I moved to Australia for a year. Australia would deserve a whole chapter if I were to describe the amazing experience I had, but the most relevant aspect of this experience for my future career as a translator was meeting a very special teacher. Ms. McCutcheon was my English and Drama teacher. When I decided to take PES (Public Examination Subject) English – which was the hardest level of English in year 12 in  the Australian education system at the time -, she advised me strongly against it. She said it was hard even for native speakers and I would probably fail. I told her that if she was willing to help me, I was willing to put in the effort. Boy, did she make me put in the effort! Every essay that my classmates had to write once and submit to her, I would have to write at least three times. I would always have two deadlines before everyone, when she’d correct and go through my whole essays with me. Looking back, I cannot thank her enough. Between drama classes, “hardcore” English and a very intense exchange student life I managed to come second in my English class at the final exams and win a Conscientious Effort Award. More importantly, I came home from Australia with near-native English and the grammar and structural foundations for my future profession (although I did not know it then).

Another legacy of my Australian experience was my love for and awe of nature. I decided to become a marine biologist and study life in this amazing planet. And, no, I did not even consider becoming a translator!

(Read more about My Journey in Part II and Part III).





Quotes

13 08 2012

Today I am translating an educational manual for a large Brazilian mining company and it begins with a George Bernard Shaw Quote.

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

This is one of the beauties of translating, you are exposed to all these topics and ideas that you may have not sought otherwise, but once you have to work with them, they inspire you. Anyway, that is a topic for a different post (hopefully!).

This post is about quotes and this is a topic I find quite crucial in translation. The manual I am translating into English is currently in Brazilian Portuguese. As such, the quote has been translated into Portuguese and I am translating it back into English.

I believe that in such cases  there should be a note in the Brazilian manual to say that the quote has been translated, because there is always the potential for the message to be lost in translation and that is the translator’s not the author’s fault. However, this does not seem to be a consensus among translators.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to coordinate a group of translators working on a large book project. One section of the book contained articles from several different authors and most of them, at one point or another, would quote other people. There were two approaches to these translations in my group of translators -the ones who translated everything as regular text and the ones who looked up references and tried to find the original quotes or original translations for the quotes.

My personal approach to this, which is what I ask of my translators as well, is to always try to find the original quote. However, whenever using Internet sources, I try to be really careful about copying a quote, because there are cases when these are not accurate as well. If I cannot find a reliable source with the original quote or an official translation, within reasonable time, I always include a note to say that the quote is a translation or back translation of an original quote by such and such.

This seems to be a simple thing, but as professional translators we must be aware of the importance of authorship; as well as of how easy it is to mistranslate or misunderstand what someone has said, and we must take responsibility for that. A good translator is aware of the limitations of translation and, instead of covering them, provides subsidy for readers to seek and judge for themselves.





CULTURACRAZE

13 08 2012

CULTURACRAZE. This was my former blog for Brazilian Portuguese speakers. I have not posted in ages, but there are some interesting cultural discussions there. Apologies, but there is no English version available!