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.





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