Topical issues in scientific and technical translation: page 2  

Demand for good technical translators has always been high, but the results of their work have never been appreciated. In the USSR, publishers of translated technical literature paid on a standard contract from two to three and a half rubles for a standard typed page (28 lines, double-spaced, 60 strikes in a line). In today's Russia, the vast majority of translation organizations (often the second or third level of mediators) do not want (and sometimes cannot because of the barbaric taxes) to pay for the same standard page more than 160 rubles. However, now the standard page has turned into 1800 bytes in one place, 250 words at another one, and somewhere even 300 words. The &ldqou;author’s list&rdqou;, usual translating unit of payment, equal to 40000 signs is no longer legally secured; &ldqou;10 days for the author’s list&ldqou; standard is no longer valid, and the translator somehow &ldqou;by default&rdqou; is no longer considered by large translation bureaus and agencies the author of the literary work – with all the ensuing consequences. So the second important issue is a culture of mutual relations between the powerless translator and the powerful employer in the light of the financial, moral, ethical and legal aspects.

Today, a technical translator performing the translation has to do his job in very tough conditions: to receive and hand in a work in electronic format, to work at an ultrafast pace, to guarantee the accuracy of interpretation of specific terminology (which is often a new one), to make his way without any assistance through the jungle of context-free abbreviations, foreign names, incomprehensible units of measure, as well as to make changes (usually, subjective, and sometimes illiterate) according to the customer's comments after his examination of the received translation. The employer generally sets terms based on 5–8 pages a day, but requires at the same time to maintain a high quality, to ensure the correctness of terminology and often to save the original format. This means that almost each ordered translation becomes urgent for an executor, but the customers do not want to pay for the urgency and the editing of the &ldqou;collective&rdqou; translations, as it was &ldqou;in the good old days&rdqou;, whereupon the &ldqou;hidden reserves&rdqou; are sought on the translator&rsqou;s account, whose work, with the absence of any standards of quality, is quite easy to declare inconsistent with requirements of the customer. Therefore, the identification of effective and clear criteria for the quality of technical translation and professional selection procedures of translators are also the issues that deserve careful attention.

An important feature of the present stage of technological progress is the mutual penetration of specific terminology from one areas of knowledge to the other, as a result, the translation of technical literature and documentation, such as communications systems, for instance, requires the simultaneous use of specialized and defining dictionaries in telecommunications, radio electronics, microelectronics, computer science, economics and finance, advertising and marketing, and quite often – in the media. Approximately the same set of dictionaries is needed today even in translation of a modern car magazine like “Auto Review”.

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