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Subject:TechWR and Translation From:Derek Smith <dsmith -at- LOGOS -dot- IT> Date:Fri, 17 May 1996 16:08:29 +0200
Greetings to list members,
Here's some stuff from another planet that may be of interest to some readers.
I head the English language department at a large translation company.
90% of our work is of a technical nature, with a large proportion of
software (from English), and a lot of just about anything, from packaging
machinery to drilling equipment (into English).
I and my colleagues produce technical manuals in English every day, but none
of us has specific experience in the field of technical writing (i.e.
generating text from scratch).
OTOH, most of the people who generate technical documentation in Italy have
no specific training to do so. They are engineers working overtime in the
majority of cases and I have noticed, over the years, that many engineers
have problems in the area of communication skills. It used to be frequent to
have to translate from local Italian dialects, since some authors had only a
tenuous grasp on formal written Italian.
Some years ago the quality of technical literature could be classified in a
range from poor to abysmal, and translators were regarded as typists with
The situation has been slowly changing. Our input has improved thanks to
Internet, while awareness among Italian companies of the needs of the
English-speaking market has risen (many clients have been engulfed by
multinationals, so when they try and write the stuff themselves in high
school English they get curious notes from people at the parent company).
Often, the work we produce will be assessed in Britain or the US as though
it had been written by a tech writer working in one or a limited number of
specific fields. That makes me nervous.
Sometimes we find ourselves in technical fields without the slightest
background info, context, reference material, etc..
However, with the right assistance from clients (here and abroad), a
sufficiently considerate deadline and a reasonable budget, we can do a very
good job (not just my opinion). But I certainly envy you people, I mean, you
actually know what you're talking about!
Ah well, back to the "machine" (Twenty seven pages into this one, and I'm
still not sure exactly what it is!).
Apologies for the length
Email: dsmith -at- logos -dot- it
Snail: flat 6, Via Curtatone 5/1, Modena, Italy
Although I work with Logos and use their Internet link, my views are my own.
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