Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching Technical Translation: Challenges and Solutions

Maria Stepanova, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russian Federation)

Dmitry Troitsky, Technical Translation & Software (Russian Federation)


The purpose of this study is to significantly improve the quality of technical translation (TT) through a new approach to teaching it at a university degree level. TT differs greatly from other common types of specialized translation that results in many teaching challenges [1], [3]. Mastering the foreign language and terminology is far from sufficient to educate a professional technical translator, although most university programs do exactly that. TT requires an in-depth understanding of the laws of nature (most linguists lack proper training in natural sciences), and of the subject matter [2]. Learning the technical field shall be based on a consistent bottom-to-top approach: from laws of nature to drawings to basic machine parts (shafts, bearings, threads…) to electrical, hydraulic, and control systems, etc. Another important issue is the fact that virtually every source text inevitably contains gross errors, and it is the translator’s duty to correct these preventing them from passing on into the translation. Again, a deep understating of the specific field is required [2], to tell the author’s false statement from a true one, and to convince the translator that he/she is not a “transparent glass”, but a real co-author of the text. The authors propose a new structure of a TT course and tutorials that follow the bottom-to-top exposure to physics and engineering. At each step, a linguist learns about machine components (what are they for? how are they made?) and the relevant terminology in source and target languages. A special highlight of the new course is learning how to understand and translate engineering drawings and 3D models since they are “the language of technology”. Another point is to teach the scientific method and skeptical thinking: treat any source text as erroneous unless otherwise can be proved. The proposed approach will certainly help meet the worldwide demand for highly skilled technical translators who clearly understand what they translate.

Keywords: technical translation, translation teaching, curriculum development, course structure.

[1] Daminova, K. (2015) Technical Translation Teaching to the Engineering Students (On the Example of Patent Descriptions). Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 6(3), 350-355.
[2] Galán-Mañas, A. (2011) Translating authentic technical documents in specialized translation classes. The Journal of Specialised Translation, 16, 109-125.
[3] Pop, C. M. (2017).Technical translation teaching and learning at initiation level: Methodological considerations. New Trends and Issues Proceedings on Humanities and Social Sciences. 4(1), 291-296.

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