A First-Hand Experience of Technical Translation
戴維禮David Raphael Idesis
Conducted in collaboration with Taiwan’s National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), the Translation Workshop course allowed students to get an up-close look at science and technology translation. We were given the opportunity to translate articles to be published in the English version of the NARLabs’ annual report, with topics ranging from earthquake resistant engineering, to semiconductor sensing technology and Taiwan’s latest satellite launch. Much of the course was spent visiting the different NARLabs centers and being taken on tours of their facilities, getting a glimpse of Taiwan’s latest technological innovations. The remainder of the course was focused on the review and discussion of our translations, as students were assigned articles on which to present a more in-depth translation analysis.
Throughout the semester we came into contact with ten different sets of texts, each relating to a different NARLabs laboratory. They all provided unique challenges, as there is little common ground between testing medicine on lab rats, building supercomputers and drifting buoys used in maritime search and rescue. Their variety meant that, for the most part, vocabulary was not transferable between assignments. The test for students was thus not only to use the appropriate vocabulary, but also to develop a logical process for piecing complex Chinese information together into a coherent English article.
Articles such as these were abundant in industry-specific technical terms, requiring extensive research to both find accurate translations, and also to gain some familiarity with the related field to ensure that our translations made sense to professionals and casual readers alike. Looking up background information was the first step in this process, but as most students do not have a scientific background, this involved a steep learning curve. Luckily, we were able to engage with NARLabs professionals on an almost-weekly basis to check our translations’ accuracy and have key concepts explained.
As a class, we gained practical experience in researching unfamiliar information – a key skill in science and technology translation. But perhaps the most important lesson learned was that it is often best to seek the advice of a professional. The NARLabs researcher’s input turned out to be a most valuable resource, clearing up any uncertainties we might have had.
This course provided us with an array of unforgettable experiences that the average translator is unlikely to ever come across. I, for one, never imagined that a master’s degree in translation would get me up close and personal with a national space center, or allow me to witness earthquake simulations in a gigantic testing facility. Unique experiences like these surely left a mark on each and every student, sparking further interest in scientific developments and technological innovations, and what role we as translators can play in their progress.