Summary: Translator as a second audience

Subject: Summary: Translator as a second audience
From: David Harrison <david-x -dot- harrison -at- BAE -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 09:03:29 +0000

Thanks for your responses to my query and as promised here is a brief summary
of the answers that I received:
For a start, a few people said that they were embarking on similar roles and
asked me to share the details. Then there were a couple of Translation services
who kindly offered me their company's services when I'm ready for them (thank
you Florence & Stephen)
Another contributor sent me some related information that suggested that I use
translators whose native tongue is the target language. He also mentioned some
translation software by the name of XL8 and Catalyst which may be worth a browse
(trial download available from www\corel\ie) (Thank you Gilles)
Someone else sent what appeared to be a primary audience checklist that would
apply to almost any Technical Writing (too long to reproduce here). However
when I gave it a second read I noticed how his final "Revision Section" did
cover aspects that should keep your writing concise and accurate for the
translator, not unlike the Simplified English rules mentioned later. (thanks
RRQ, whoever you are behind those initials).
As for reference books - the only recommendation that I received was to
reinforce my choice of Nancy Hoft (which I've now got on order from my local)
A Dutch-English translator was kind enough to respond with offers of help when
I have specific questions but added the gem about avoiding the verb "get". He's
got a 10-page handout for his own students and if you're skeptical then look it
up in your own dictionary. My Thesaurus gave some 52 variations! So that's one
word I will be giving a wide berth, along with cliches and contractions (thank
you Ed). Annie suggested that provided I concentrate on the primary audience
and paid right and proper attention to the language, grammar, construction,
message and so on then there should be few problems for a god translation
service. Perhaps so Annie but the highlight on the word "get" makes you stop
and think how much we take "correct english" for granted. All the same I thank
her for her encouragement.
Also, another translator came through to offer help, again on any specifics
that I might have (thank you Helen). All I can say after that, is that you
Techwhirlers really are the best! And Peter Ring, one of Techwhirler's
contributed pointed me to a part of his Web site ( http://www.prc.
dk/user-friendly-manuals/tip-9705.htm ) (thanks Peter)
Within my current department I spoke to one of our quality editors. His advice,
which I'll add to this list, was to follow some of the basic rules of
Simplified English. In particular, keep your sentences short and only deal
with one topic per paragraph. Always use the same terminology or name for any
piece of equipment or process. Don't use the same or similar words for
different meanings. (back to the word "get" I think). Proof your work with
several times and check different aspects each time. Finally, don't forget to
use Word Grammar as well as Spell Check. They're not perfect, but they will
pick up errors such as "form" instead of "from" which are both spelt correctly
but used differently!
While I'm on the topic of "Spell Checkers" I'll leave you all with probably the
best tale about Spell Check that actually happened to me (so I know it's true -
I was there). A friend asked me to check a report, that he had just finished
writing, about damage to a diesel engine generator which had been emitting some
strange noises. He dismantled the engine and found that one piston had a
broken piston ring. While reading his final report, which he had spell-checked,
I had to suppress the mirth and ask him why he wanted to write about "pig shit"
(please excuse the language). He had written that the broken rings had put
minor surface scratches on the "faeces of the boar" and spell-checker had passed
it over as good.
Thanks everyone
Dave Harrison
(david-x -dot- harrison -at- bae -dot- co -dot- uk) - work until 3 March
(david -dot- harrison5 -at- virgin -dot- net) - home

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