Technical translation an investigation into challenges facing can tho university english translation and interpreting majored students in translating manuals.

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CAN THO UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH ---------- Technical Translation: An Investigation into Challenges Facing Can Tho University English Translation and Interpreting Majored Students in Translating Manuals. B.A Thesis Field of study: English translation and interpreting Supervisor: Trương Thị Ngọc Điệp,M.Ed Can Tho, May 2014 Student: Nguyễn Thị Tô Liên Student Code: 7107132 Class: NN10Z8A2 Course: 36 STATEMENT OF ORIGINALITY I certify that this work has not been submitted for any publication, or previous studies. I also declare that the content of this thesis is the product of my own work, except to the extent that assistance from others in the project’s design and conception or in style, presentation and linguistics express is acknowledged. Nguyễn Thị Tô Liên May, 2014 i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would never have been able to finish my thesis without the guidance of my advisor, help from friends, and support from my family. First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, Ms. Truong Thi Ngoc Diep, for her excellent guidance, caring, patience, and providing me with an excellent atmosphere for doing research. Next, I would like to take opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to my roommates who supported me for data analysis. I would like to acknowledge the encouragement and strong support from my beloved family, especially my mother. Without their support, I could not have had enough perseverance in facing the difficulties during the period of conducting this study. Then, I also want to express my appreciation to my classmates, especially Ms. Lai Tuyet Nhung, Mr. Tran Van Hau, and Ms. Dang Thi Kim Thanh for their help and encouragement. Finally, I also wish to thank all the participants of thesis for their support. Without their assistance, I could not have completed my thesis ii TABLE OF CONTENTS STATEMENT OF ORIGINALITY ...................................................................... i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................. ii ABSTRACT ...........................................................................................................vi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .......................................................................... 1 1.1. Rationale ................................................................................................................. 1 1.2. Research objectives ................................................................................................. 2 1.3. Significance of research ........................................................................................... 2 1.4. Thesis organization .................................................................................................. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW .............................................................. 4 2.1. An overview of technical translation ........................................................................ 4 2.1.1. Definitions ............................................................................................................ 4 2.1.2. Types of technical documents ............................................................................... 6 2.1.4. Features of technical documents ........................................................................... 8 2.2. Translation approaches ............................................................................................ 9 2.3. Knowledge and skills requirements to produce a good technical translation ........... 10 2.4. Difficulties in translating technical texts ................................................................ 11 2.5. Method in translating technical documents ............................................................ 12 2.6. Summary and indication ........................................................................................ 13 2.7. Research questions ................................................................................................ 14 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................................ 15 3.1. Research design ..................................................................................................... 15 3.2. Participants ............................................................................................................ 15 3.3. Materials ............................................................................................................... 15 3.3.1. Translation text ................................................................................................... 15 3.3.2. Questionnaire...................................................................................................... 16 iii 3.4. Data collection....................................................................................................... 16 3.4.1. Translation text ................................................................................................... 16 3.4.2. Questionnaire...................................................................................................... 17 3.5. Data analysis ......................................................................................................... 17 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS, DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ....................... 18 4.1. Research results ..................................................................................................... 18 4.1.1. Translation text. ..................................................................................... 18 4.1.2. The difficulties in translating technical documents ................................ 22 4.1.2. The methods which students prefer using in translating technical documents ........................................................................................................................ 23 4.2. Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 25 CHAPTER 5: LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................ 27 5.1. Limitations ............................................................................................................ 27 5.2. Recommendations ................................................................................................. 27 5.3. Directions for further research ................................. Error! Bookmark not defined. APPENDICES ...................................................................................................... 31 APPENDIX A – Translation text .................................................................................. 31 APPENDIX B – Questionnaire ..................................................................................... 32 iv TÓM LƯỢC Nghiên cứu này nhằm điều tra những khó khăn mà sinh viên chuyên ngành BiênPhiên dịch tiếng Anh gặp phải khi dịch văn bản kĩ thuật từ tiếng Anh sang tiếng Việt. Ngoài ra, nghiên cứu còn liệt kê ra các phương pháp và tìm ra phương pháp được sinh viên sử dụng nhiều nhất để giải quyết các khó khăn trên trong khi dịch văn bản kĩ thuật. Bài thực hành dịch hướng dẫn sử dụng máy hút bụi và bảng câu hỏi được phát ra cho 50 sinh viên năm cuối chuyên ngành Biên-Phiên Dịch tiếng Anh trực thuộc khoa Khoa học Xã hội và Nhân văn, trường Đại học Cần Thơ. Kết quả nghên cứu cho thấy đa số sinh viên đều gặp khó khăn trong việc dịch thuật ngữ trong văn bản kĩ thuật. Kết quả cũng cho thấy rằng đa số sinh viên thích sử dụng Internet để giải quyết các khó khăn trong việc dịch văn bản kĩ thuật. v ABSTRACT This study aims to investigate the difficulties facing English translation and interpreting majored students in translating technical documents from English into Vietnamese. Furthermore, this study also lists the methods and identifies the method which is used by most of students to solve the difficulties in translating technical documents. A translation text of vacuum cleaner manual and a questionnaire were delivered for fifty senior students majoring in English translation and interpreting who belong to the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Can Tho University. The findings indicated that the majority of students have difficulty in translating terminology in technical documents. The findings also showed that the majority of students prefer the Internet to solve the difficulties in translating technical documents. vi CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION This chapter presents (1) the rationale of the current study, (2) research objectives, (3) significance of research, and (4) thesis organization. 1.1. Rationale Translation is a science which has occurred for a long time and bilingual inscriptions are first found in the area of Elephantine (Newmark, 1988). Moreover, translation is related to the human development and Baakes (1994) states that the relationship between translation and history of the world was much closed; now translation is very important in communication as a language bridge in the world. Therefore, studying about translation is a significant and essential task of each generation. As Roger (1991) says that translation is considered as an art or a science has been argued. And training translators is also important. In Becoming a Translator (2003), Douglas Robinson defines that the study of translation and the training of professional translators are related to both intercultural relations and scientific and technological knowledge. Translating different texts requires different principles. Translators have to understand and satisfy the requirements of each kind of text. Newmark (1981) states that while literature translation is an art, technical translation is a science. So, to translate technical documents well, translators need to not only understand terms and topics but also have technical thinking and understand logical categories. However, according to Newmark (1998), the quality of translated texts today is not good and so badly written, the technical translation topic and vocabulary are various, so it is difficult for translators to make helpful generalization about it. Schleiermacher (cited in Thuy 2012) claims that a technical translated text is “mechanical, boring and nonacademic.” Some translated texts do not meet the high demand of technical documents. Based on that fact, many universities have applied technical translation skills specialized in English materials, especially materials for English majored 1 students. That English undergraduates practice translating technical documents at university is very necessary because of two following reasons: (1) It will help students to have an overview and understanding of technical documents so they can proactively avoid basic mistakes (2) Students can detect their difficulties, so they can find suitable solutions. English translation and interpreting majored students at Can Tho University have studied basic subjects such as Translation Theory (XH456), Introduction to Translation (XH551)... and specific subjects like Translation 1, 2, 3 (XH552, XH553, XH554), when studying these subjects they also have opportunities to practice translating technical documents. So student all know about technical documents. However, because of the feature of technical documents, students usually feel confused and make mistakes in translating this kind of material. In addition, I have just found the research project in Dich Thuat Van Ban Khoa Hoc (Luu 2009); however, this research only focused on students in chemical, biological and medical majors. Therefore, this study focuses mainly on English translation and interpreting majored students, especially the seniors, who are preparing for graduation and become translators. To find out the difficulties in translating technical documents of these students is the primary purpose of this thesis. 1.2. Research objectives The two main purposes of this study are to find out (1) whether translating technical documents are problematic to English translation and interpreting majored seniors at Can Tho University and (2) to present some methods they prefer to use in translating technical documents. 1.3. Significance of the research This research results will help students pay more attention to dealing with technical translation. In particular, they can help students recognize difficulties of translating 2 manuals. As a result, they prepare themselves for their knowledge and necessary skills well before participating in their future job. 1.4. Thesis organization The thesis is divided into five chapters: (1) Introduction, (2) Literature Review, (3) Research Methodology, (4) Result, Discussion, and Conclusion, (5) Limitations, and Recommendations. In Chapter One, firstly, the background information and reasons for conducting the thesis is presented. Then, the research objectives and significance are introduced. The thesis organization is the last part of this chapter. Chapter Two- Literature Review- provides definition of terms used in the thesis, an overview of the recent studies and the research questions. Chapter Three focuses on research methodology, which describes the research designs, participants, and research procedure. In addition, this chapter also depicts the instruments and data collection in detail. Chapter Four reports the findings of the questionnaire responses analyzed by Excel. In the chapter, a summary of main results of the thesis is provided. Additionally, further discussion of the results in comparison with the results of previous studies is also given. The last part of the chapter is conclusion. Chapter Five includes the Limitations of the study, Recommendations and the Directions for further research. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter reviews some theories related to translating as well as the difficulties in translating technical documents. It includes the following sections: (1) an overview of the technical translation; (2) the translation approach; (3) the knowledge and skills required to produce a good technical translation; (4) difficulties in translating technical texts; (5) method in translating technical documents; (6) summary and indication; (7) research questions. 2.1. An overview of technical translation 2.1.1. Definitions 2.1.1.1. Technical documents FreeDictionary.com defines technical documents as “… documentation that typically contributes to the study of human or mechanical factors, procedures, and processes in the fields of medicine, science, logistics, research, development, test and evaluation, intelligence, investigations, and armament delivery.” More specifically, the Society for Technical Communication (2013) regards technical documents as the broad field including any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: (1) communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations; (2) communicating through technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites; or (3) providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of the task's technical nature. Nirmaldasan (2005) defines that technical documents are the art of communicating technical knowledge to a specified audience. The topic may be as simple as a recipe or as complex as an integral equation. Two of the common technical documents are business letters and user manuals. The definition by the Society for Technical Communication is used in this thesis because it is relevant to 4 materials used for data collection to find the difficulties in translating technical documents. 2.1.1.2. Translation Sankey (1990) asserts translation as the replacement of textual materials in one language by equivalent texts in another language. He believes that translator’s capability of the source language (SL) and the target language (TL) skills is one of the most important factors to produce a good translation. However, this definition just focuses on the equivalence ignores the communicative element in translation. From another point of view, Newmark (1988) suggests that translation involves transferring the message in the SL to the TL. He considers translation as a craft that attempts to replace a written message and/or statement in one language by the same message and/or statement in another language. During the translation process, the translators have to keep the message of the SL as much as possible. Moreover, Wills (1982, cited in Thuy, 2012) considers translation as the product of an optimally equivalent of SL and TL. Therefore, translation is comprehensive with the syntax, semantics, stylistics, and pragmatics of the original text. In other words, translation is to reproduce meaning from the SL to the TL while keeping original tone, style, sometimes the form as much as possible. Translation in this thesis can be understood as the process of transferring the meaning, message and style from the SL to the TL. 2.1.1.3. Technical translation Newmark (1988) defines technical translation as the field belongs to specialized translation; specialized translations have two fields: technical translation and institutional translation. In this definition, technical translation has features of specialized translation. Byrne (2006:3) describes technical translation as translation that “deals with text on subjects based on applied knowledge from the natural sciences. Byrne does not deny the importance of technical terms, but the term is not only able to make a written text into a technical level, but also to many other factors. 5 In short, technical translation is a type of specialized translation involving the translation of documents produced by technical writers. Technical translation plays significant role but difficult to practise because of its typical features and requirements. Indeed, translating technical documents requires practitioners much competence and skills. 2.1.2. Types of technical documents According to Newmark (1988), the division of specialized texts clarifies the kinds of technical and institutional translation among specialized translation. Specialized translation is translation in specialized subjects. It is sort of a high quality translation, used for the most crucial documents - corporate material, product brochures, or user manuals (Newmark 1988). Newmark claims that technical translation as specialized translation. More specific, Newmark divides specialized translation into technical and institutional translation. Chart 2.1: Division of specialised texts (Newmark 1988: 151) According to Newmark (1988), specialised translation, or specialised texts, could be divided into two categories. The first is technical documents. These are "non-cultural 6 and therefore 'universal'." They apply terms which are common to all languages and are not fixed to one specific culture. They are specialised terms, usually of Latin origin, which are used in a subject field and are usually known internationally. The second category is that of institutional translation which covers the area of politics, commerce, finance, government, law and so on. Institutional translation is cultural the terms are more or less transferred. This is due to the fact that the terms refer to a specific cultural or historical phenomenon which is typical for a certain society or culture. The focus of this thesis is on technical translation. According to Newmark (1988), types of documents can vary depending on the subject, the nature of the product and the industry within which the company operated. In the book “Technical Translation”, Byrne (2006) classifies technical documents into four categories as follows: - Procedural documents such as assembly instructions, instructions for operation. - Descriptive and explanatory documents such as descriptions of products and services, explanations of processes, concepts, progress reports. - Persuasive or evaluative documents such as research proposals or engineering projects, product or service evaluations as well as reports recommending actions or policies. - Investigative documents such as reports which are intended to present new knowledge. The first two categories are most closely related to this thesis because they connect directly to the subject of manual documents. Byrne (2006) also presents some typical technical documents that are frequently produced by technical writers and translated by technical translators: - Proposals: in general, proposals are an offer to perform research or to supply a product or service (Markel, 2003) and may originate outside a 7 company or from within the company. The crucial aspect of proposals is that they are persuasive documents. To write a proposal, the writer must know clearly the reader’s need, so that the proposal can meet their promises (Markel, 2003). Proposals can be quite challenging for writers and translators because they can frequently involve quite varied and disparate information such as financial information and legal issues in addition to highly technical engineering material. - Reports: a product needs many related aspects: development status, viability, commercial success, safety, and effectiveness and reports are an efficient tool to present those aspects. A report consists of a statement providing facts and information to help readers understand, analyze or take action on some situation or idea (Markel, 2003). There are three basic types of reports: informational reports, analytical reports and recommendation reports. Informational reports present information and results. Analytical reports supply the same information and drawing conclusions due to the facts contained in the report. Recommendation reports build on analytical reports by making various recommendations as to further action. - Manuals: documents containing instruction, use, parts list, support, and training requirements for the effective deployment of an equipment, machine, process, or system (Markel, 2003). Manuals are one of the mainstays of technical documents. Manual are also the main focus in this thesis to identify the difficulty in technical translation. 2.1.3. Features of technical documents According to Baakes (1994: 3) technical documents are characterized by: “...objectivity, absence of expressiveness and emotion, precision, economy, conciseness, and formality.” Regarding grammatical features, Newmark (1988) lists some features such as: passive, nomination, third person, empty verbs, and present tenses. 8 Traditionally, technical documents are defined on the basis of subject-matter, terminology and a number of typical syntactic features such as nominalization, heavy pre- and post-modifications, extensive use of passives, use of third person, long and complex sentences (Byrne, 2006). Terminology is the most important feature of technical documents. It is also the most difficulty feature to translate and it requires a wide knowledge in vocabulary. 2.2. Translation approaches Newmark (1988) classifies the approaches to a translation into semantic and communicative ones. Semantic translation is faithful to the author’s idea and the context of the SL text. If there are symbols and expressive elements that are completely inaccessible, translators will make them possibly comprehensive in translation procedures. In contrast, in communicative translations, only some parts of meaning in the original text correspond to the readers’ understanding and identical messages are translated. Translators can modify, correct, and reproduce the translations without referring to the original texts. However, there are two main problems in communicative translations. The first problem is that translators have to simplify and emphasize the basic messages. The other obstacle is that they have to determine the most common elements of intelligence, knowledge, and sensitivity of the total readership. Generally, a communicative translation is considered as readeroriented while semantic one is regarded as author-oriented. According to Munday (2001), there are three approaches to a translation: metaphrase, paraphrase, and imitation. Metaphrase is word-for-word translation that is similar to literal translation. Paraphrase is freer translation that keeps the author’s ideas but does not strictly follow his words. Imitation is very a type of free translation that ignores both the words and the sense of the original texts. In this kind of translation, translators use the SL texts as “a pattern to write as translators’ purpose that the author would have done if he had lived in our age and in our country” (p.19). Metaphrase and imitation are not highly appreciated because metaphrase leads to the loss of the sense 9 of the original text while imitation has some problems of whether the authors and translators have experienced the same attitudes. It is advisable recommended that translators should avoid metaphrase and imitation in translation, especially technical translations. The concept of translation in this thesis can serve as a theoretical foundation to approach technical translations Whether a text is technical, institutional or literary, a translator has to orient what it is about, what it is in aid of and what the writer's peculiar slant on it is. There are two primary approaches to translation: (1) translating a piece of a text sentence by sentence to feel the tone of the text, reading the rest of the source text and then starting translating, (2) reading the whole text several times, finding the authors’ intention, register, tone, then marking the difficult words and passages of the text and starting translating (Newmark, 1988). 2.3. Knowledge and skills requirements for translator to produce a good technical translation Many researches have demonstrated that technical communicators do, in fact, create new meanings as opposed to simply repackaging old information. This emphasizes the important role that technical translators play in making generating new meanings, whether they are doing technical translation in one language or in multiple languages (Newmark, 1981). Much like professionals in the field of technical communication, the technical translators must have a cross-curricular and multifaceted background. In addition to grasping theoretical and linguistic orientations for the actual translation process, an understanding of other subjects, such as cognitive psychology, usability engineering, and technical communication is necessary for a successful technical translator (Byrne, 2006). Moreover, most technical translators work within a specialized field such as medical or legal technical translations, which highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary background. Finally, the technical translators should also become familiar with the field of professional translation through training (Weiss, 1995). 10 2.4. Difficulties in translating technical texts A translation always challenges translators. It also emerges in words, phrases, sentences. The problems in translating technical documents are traced to terminology, combined words, no subject sentences s, negative structure and passive voice. Terminology is considered as the most common challenge facing translators. The comment of Newmark (1988) considers that technical translation is primarily distinguished from other forms of translation by terminology. In this comment, Newmark admits that terminology is the most difficult in translating technical documents. Technical terminology has its own specific feature which translators must pay attention to. Newmark (1988) claims that new term in source language only appear once and cause trouble to translators. The obstacles are obvious when technical terminology are polysemy our or have various senses. Nguyen (2009) states that terminology is generally considered the main challenge of the technical translator. The principal requirement of specialised translation is that the translator should have some knowledge of the subject fields which the source text comes from. The translator should be acquainted with the subject both within the source language as well as within the target language. Other less common problems are discussed by Nguyen (2009) on passive voice. In passive sentences, the focus of the sentence is the ‘receiving’ object of an action and it comes at the start of the sentence; therefore, the object and the subject change positions in the sentence. Passive voice makes some troubles for translators in translating literally an English passive sentence by a Vietnamese passive sentence because the translated sentence doesn’t sound natural in Vietnamese. The problems in combined words are discussed by Newmark (1988). The problem of no subject sentences s and negative structure in translating technical documents are listed by Nguyen (2009) and Newmark (1988). 11 2.5. Method in translating technical documents To deal with translating technical texts, Byme (2006) recommends five methods. First, translators should notice the length of the text. They must consider whether to add or shorten the documents and employ language service provider (LSP) for editing translated texts. Second, a localization-proof content is required. Keeping the texts concise and clarified are also necessary. Third, automate as much as possible using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. This device is useful in case the same rules of terminology management occur. Fourth, the documents should be well-prepared and organized. The file structure needs to be cleared and easily navigated. Irrelevant content should be omitted. Last but not least, a sample of technical translation has better be prepared. According to Newmark (1988), when translating technical documents, the translators can apply use two methods: (1) translate sentence by sentence the main idea of the texts to feel the tone, and then read the rest of the text and translate all the remained parts, and (2) read the whole text several times, find the intention, register and tone of the text and start translating. In this point, the second method is better than the first, one because it helps the translators go through the document and translate with the tone of the document. In translating terminology, Newmark (1988) shows some methods to find the meaning of terminology. First of all, some terminology has meanings in English-Vietnamese dictionary. Therefore, the translators can look it up in the English-Vietnamese dictionary to find the meaning. Secondly, if the terminology is not defined in bilingual dictionary, the translators can find its meanings in monolingual dictionary. In EnglishEnglish dictionary, the translators can discover the meaning in English, and then infer the suitable meaning in Vietnamese. Thirdly, the translators can analyze the root to identify infer the meaning of terminology. Fourthly, the translators can use their background knowledge and the context to infer the terminology meaning. Next, the Internet is an effective tool to search the terminology meanings. The translators should 12 use the Internet to find the information about the terms and the related definition. Finally, the information in a similar text is a document reference. It is a source for translators to find the meaning of terminology. In practice translation, students should apply these methods to translate the terminology. Lu (2009) states that student must face with combined words in technical translation and suggests some methods to solve this difficulty. First, students can translate each meaning of each word, and then combine them with new Vietnamese meaning. Second, students can find out the suitable meaning basing on each word’s meaning. Third, some combined words have their own meaning in dictionary; students can look them up in dictionary. Fourth, it is similar to translating terminology; students can search in the Internet to find out the most suitable meaning for combined words. Finally, students can ask teachers or friends, maybe they know the combined word’s meanings. To translate no subject sentences s, students can apply three methods: adding suitable words or subject, keeping the original text and finding out the best way to translate it into Vietnamese based on the context. 2.6. Summary and indication As mentioned above, translation is not an easy task; it is a complex process which requires translator’s not only linguistic but also special knowledge. Technical translations belong to specialized translation (Newmark 1988). Therefore, technical translation has features of special translation. Technical translation has many types, the types of documents can vary depending on the subject, the nature of product and the industry within which the company operated (Newmark 1988). Some special types are proposal, report and manual… Technical documents have many features: grammatical feature, syntactic feature. Terminology is special feature which distinguished technical document with other document. 13
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