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  About Werner George Patels: Werner George Patels has been a freelance translator (German/English, Spanish/English) and conference interpreter (German/English) since 1987. He specializes in the translation of legal, commercial, financial and marketing texts. Mr. Patels can be contacted through www.translations-canada.net/wpatels. (来源:EnglishCN英语问答中心[e问e答])

To help readers gain more feeling about document translation in science or technology disciplines, this week, I invited an experienced translator who has work in this field for more than 17 years---Werner George Patels, to share his opinions with us. Though he dose not do English/Chinese translation, the basic thoughts are the same. I have asked him 4 questions and he kindly answered them in detail. Now, let’s go on to read his precious experience!

Yora’s first question: What elements do you think make the difference between translation of technological documents and translation of literatures?

Mr. Patels: First of all, I believe that both types of translation activities require training - either through a school or a mentor. Second, technical translators need to know their terminology and subject matter (translation is all about understanding; without understanding, you cannot translate. This is why human translators will never be replaced by machines, because machines cannot be programmed to understand as such). Literary translation requires extraordinary writing skills in one"s mother tongue. The difference between the two is that in literary translation you will have to be creative and be able to "play" with the tools available to you in your target language. Technical translation is much more limited in this respect, because you have to adhere to special terminology and style, and it requires much higher level of accuracy.

Yora’s second question: What makes a qualified translator in Sci&Tech fields?

Mr. Patels: Number one: professional training in technical translation. Number two: a good and thorough understanding of the subject matter. I believe, after more than 17 years in this business, that the best choice is still a professionally trained translator who understands the subject matter, and not, for example, an engineer who turns to translation as a second career or as a sideline. Engineers and practitioners of other technical disciplines (which includes medical doctors) are usually not very adept at writing well. They may know a lot about the subject matter, but they usually find it hard to put it all in words. In order to translate a text about rocket science, you don"t actually have to be able to build a rocket yourself; you "merely" have to understand the text and be able to translate the information.

Yora’s third question: How do you deal with new words that just appear in hi-tech articles?

Mr. Patels: In my language pairs (English, German, Spanish), it"s probably easier than in some other, more "exotic", languages. For example, a new English technical term can often be found in a corresponding German article by using a good search engine such as Google. But it does help if you read similar publications in all your working languages (e.g., Scientific American is available in English, but also German; BusinessWeek or The Economist have equivalents in the German press, etc.).

Yora’s fourth question: Any other advices that you would like to say to the green-hands?

Mr. Patels: If you have not had the chance to obtain proper training in translation at university, try to find an experienced translator to serve as a mentor. Always remember the "golden rule" of translation: only translate into your native language(s). Read, read, read, and again, read! Be interested in everything and read about everything - you never know when you might need something. Learn how to research terminology properly (again, by taking a degree or seeking the help of a mentor). Finally: getting started is always difficult. In some cases, depending on specializations and language pairs, it might take up to 5 years to break into the business and establish a decent client base. So, don"t despair, and never give up. Use any downtimes for professional development (e.g., taking courses, "life-long learning", etc.).

 
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