30 May 2014

Show 'em ... _11.1 or Turning a problem passage into a gem

This post is part of the Show 'em what you can do_# series.
To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.

For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN.

The last sentence of the last block poses a challenge to turn a problem passage in the orginal into a gem in the target language.

The original reads:
Constitué par des marcheurs, d'une capacité unitaire de 400 tonnes et reliés deux par deux par une poutre support, ils permettent de transférer le sous-marin jusqu'au DME (Dispositif de mise à l'eau) sur une plate-forme en position haute. Celle-ci est mise en flottaison et l'abaissement du niveau de l'eau dans le bassin, à l'aide d'un système de pompes, permet la descente et la mise à l'eau du navire. 
My version reads:
Arranged in pairs and supporting a load-sharing beam, the walkers form a ‘centipede’. Each walker can support a maximum load of 400 tonnes. When the ‘centipede’ and its load are over the shiplift, the dock beneath is drained by a series of pumps leaving submarine and shiplift plaform on the dock floor. After securing the platform, the dock is flooded again and the submarine floated out and towed to a fitting-out dock.
This is not a translation but a re-write.
What is the justification?

Assuming our translator of technical journalism articles has the customer's confidence and a good working relationship with the customer's team along with a mandate (possible more implicit than explicit, since customers seldom want to know too much about what goes on inside the translator's head...) to translate/write/transcreate for the customer's customers, then the justification is simply that the writer of the original wasn't thinking about the customer's customers enough.

The first requirement of reader-centred translation is that the text must be easy tp read and understand and, given the presence of the partially explanatory graphic, it must work well with that too. This can only be achieved by extensive internet research, some hard thinking and multiple drafts.

First, I studied the graphic closely. Next, I located, downloaded and studied the document Le sous-marin nucléaire lanceur d'engins de nouvelle génération (SNLE-NG) « Le Vigilant ». The passage of interest reads:
Une semaine après son transfert dans l'ouvrage Cachin, « Le Vigilant » sera descendu en fond de forme. Pour cela, le bassin (qui a nécessité 30 000 m3 de béton) sera rempli d'eau. La porte du bassin sera ensuite refermée. La plate-forme, sur laquelle repose le sous-marin, sera alors déverrouillée et flottera sur l'eau du bassin. Une simple vidange du bassin permettra à la plate-forme porteuse de descendre lentement, tel un ascenseur hydraulique, jusqu'au fond de la forme asséchée. Quand « Le Vigilant » sera en mesure de prendre la mer, il suffira d'ouvrir la porte du bassin, qui se remplira selon le principe de l'écluse.
This confirms several points suggested by the graphic. I defy anyone to glean from the original an understanding of how the DME shiplift works comparable with that offered by this text and, hopefully, my re-write.

Had this been a real job for a real customer, the next challenge would be to get the customer's opinion, then go through an additional review cycle. The other challenge, of course, is to maintain a good working relationship with the customer's team, beginning with the author of the original.
One way is for the translator to invite constructive criticism from the outset. In-house writers frequently have trouble putting themselves in the shoes of their readers and, as part of that process, writing for people of are both less technical than themselves and, because they do not yet understand how the system (here the DME shiplift) works, need, as a minimum, an explanation that is easy to read and understand. This is a common problem. It is best resolved through dialogue and constructive criticism.
First, the re-write must be easy to read and understand. If it can be made to sing while achieving crystal clarity then all the better. This is, indeed, the ultimat aim of technical journalism translation.
Suggestions welcome, particularly if you can improve on my re-write.

28 May 2014

Show 'em ... _#11

As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
This is a teaching/training/exchange exercise.
Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.
The spelling used here is based on the analysis detailed in the February 2012 post -iz- is not American.

Block 8

For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN
Don't forget the skates

Whereas earlier generations of submarines were built on inclined launch ramps, modern-day types are assembled in sections in covered assembly halls with level floors. A spectacular system at DCN’s Cherbourg shipyard uses hydraulic ‘walkers’ and a shiplift to launch its finished hulls. The walkers were designed by Norwegian firm Total Transportation Systems and built by French contractors Sogelerg and ACB. Arranged in pairs and supporting a load-sharing beam, the walkers form a ‘centipede’. Each walker can support a maximum load of 400 tonnes. When the ‘centipede’ and its load are over the shiplift, the dock beneath is drained by a series of pumps leaving submarine and shiplift on the dock floor. Then when the dock is flooded again, the submarine can be floated out and towed to a fitting-out dock.

Caption: Hydraulic ‘walkers’ transfer the submarine to the DME shiplift

Running commentary
  • In the heading, 'patins' has been translated directly as 'skates' (want of a better idea). The larger problem is the multiple mixed metaphors. Each one ('skates', 'walkers', 'centipede') is acceptable in its own right, but the mixture is dreadful. Heading, body text and caption are thus candidates for further re-writes. Any suggestions?
  • The original is written, consciously or not, primarily for a French audience. The translation being intended for an international audience, I thought it wise to find out which company actually designed the 'walkers' and include their name.
  • The last couple of sentences form the subject of a separate post. See Show 'em 11.1 or Turning a problem passage into a gem.
  • Caption: 'DME shipflift' sounds sufficient, without explaining what the DME actually means.

27 May 2014

Why translation is like music

The video presentation Why Translation Is Like Music by smartling.com gives a smooth-flowing, easy-listening, pleasant-viewing explanation of the well-chosen title and much more besides.
Highly recommended.

A second video explains what the company does and how it does it.
This is translation industry marketing at its best.

American founder and CEO Jack Welde, an ex-military man and ex-pilot, explains more here.
No doubt about it, the marketing is good.
Last line: We try to do this job right!

Item #60 of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know is entitled The sound of music.
Elsewhere the book talks about producing translations that sing.

Free lessons in technical translation skills, French to English

For translation students, beginners and others, the ten postings to date in the series
Show 'em what you can do_#,
and others yet to come, may be viewed as free lessons in technical translation skills -- or more precisely the translation of technical journalism -- for those working from French to English.


For others these postings are a call for feedback and comments.

As Item #48 of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know,
Two eyes good,
four eyes better
,
makes clear we can all benefit from feedback.

26 May 2014

Show 'em ... _#10

As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
This is a teaching/training/exchange exercise.
Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.


Block 7

For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN
High-tech welding of missile launch tubes


The missile launch tubes for Le Redoutable-class SSBNs were welded by hand. In December 1989, DCN’s Cherbourg shipyard adopted electron-beam welding to assemble the launch tubes for new-generation Le Triomphant-class SSBNs. In principle, the technique is simple enough. A focused beam of electrons melts and welds the two sections to be welded together. On striking the metal, the beam’s kinetic energy is converted into heat. Electron-beam welding offers several advantages, including:
●   elimination of weld shrinkage
●   no need to pre-heat, hence significant savings.

Despite the machine's weight (around 30 tonnes) and size, welding is done on site rather than taking each workpiece to the machine. During this process, the launch tubes also serve as vacuum chambers. When its was introduced in 1990, the technique represented a world first in industrial production.

DCN’s Indret centre produced the propeller for SSBN Le Triomphant and her successors using a similar technique. The process is similar to that used in the automotive and nuclear power industries.

Caption: Workshop mockup of a ballistic missile launch tube. In red, the vacuum chamber containing the launch tube to be seam welded
Running commentary
  • In the heading, I have used "of" to translate "pour les" as it sounds more logical in English.
  • The short-cut device in French using "et non l'inverse" has been made explicit.
  • Given the change of subject, the sentence beginning "DCN Indret" has been moved to a new paragraph.
  • In the last sentence the subject changes again, but two one-sentence paragraphs does not sound like a good idea, especially as it is not clear what point is being made. Doesn't the use of this process in the automotive industry make it sound less technologically sophisticated?
  • Caption: The meaning of the word 'reconstitution' is not entirely clear. I have assumed that it means 'mockup'.
  • Caption: The origin of the acronym TELM is not clear. I chose to ignore it in the English.

    Rhetoric as identity-speech

    From Sam Leith, the author of "You Talkin’ to Me?": Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, in
    I say ‘we’ and ‘us’ but I mean ‘you in today's FT:
    All rhetoric, it bears repeating, is at root identity-speech. The typical movement of a piece of persuasive speech or writing is from the “I” of the speaker and the “you” of the individuals in the audience towards a collective “we”. At the very least, you will seek to give the audience a sense of itself as a collective body – a big “we”, if you like – because you seek to command collective assent.
    ... 
    In general, you will seem friendlier and less stuffy and more direct – and therefore more honest – if, when writing or speaking on behalf of your company, you use “we” rather than speaking about the company in the third person. And how much more appealing it is to be told “I want us to agree” than to be told “I want you to agree with me”, even if the latter is what is actually meant.

    19 May 2014

    Show 'em ... _#9

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is a teaching/training/exchange exercise.
    Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.


    Block 6

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    Machining titanium

    A submarine’s stern gland provides a high-pressure seal between the shaft line (or propeller shaft) and the hull. In the case of France’s new-generation Le Triomphant-class SSBNs, this vital component takes the form of a machined metal cylinder 1180 mm in diameter by 600 mm in length. Early in the design phase (in 1986), the decision was taken to use titanium, a metal combining the strength of steel with the lightness of aluminium. Titanium has, of course, been used for special items for many years, but never for anything this big.

    Working with toolmakers and other specialists, the team developed a range of tungsten carbide cutting tools. Note that titanium presents a special challenge in that mis-machined or damaged parts cannot be repaired. Given the high cost of the raw material, DCN machine tool operators cannot afford to make the least mistake.
    Caption: Machining a titanium stern gland for a submarine’s shaft line
    Running commentary
    • 'shaft line (or propeller shaft)': the less technical term 'propeller shaft' being both more transparent and widely known from other mechanical contexts, it seems advisable to mention both. 
    • 'cylinder 1180 mm in diameter by 600 mm in length': The original says un cylindre de 1180 mm de diamètre sur 600 de haut. Given that the shaft line is normally horizontal (also that the picture shows the stern gland with its long axis horizontal), it seems more logical to me to use the word 'length' rather than 'height'.
    • carbutiers : to the best of my knowedge, carbutier is not recorded in any dictionary. As of May 2014, Google failed to yield any useful information concerning the singular or plural form, save for one hit concerning carburettor (carbu) technicians. This DCN workshop term probably refers to the fact that machine tool cutting tips are generally made of carbure de tungstène or tungsten carbide (Wikipedia articles in English here and in French here).[I note in passing that Google has, apparently, failed to index the instance of 'carbutiers' on the page under discussion, possibly because it is too far down the page. Interesting.]
    • si ça casse, il n'y a aucune solution de réparation : My redrafting of this passage is more explanatory, partly because I failed to find a succint idiomatic expression corresponding to the popular French forumalation si ça casse (literally 'if it breaks', which is neat, but does not sit easily with the rest of the sentence).

    Show 'em ... _#8

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is a teaching/training/exchange exercise.
    Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.


    Block 5

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    Working with composites

    At regular intervals since the early 1950s, DCN’s Cherbourg shipyard has expanded the use of state-of-the-art composite materials in submarine construction.
    The first-of-class SSBN Le Redoutable commissioned in December 1971 was the first French submarine to use composites. With advantages ranging from reduced maintenance to increased resistance to seawater corrosion, composite components progressively replaced selected items made of aluminium alloys and steel. By the time the fifth-of-class Le Tonnant was commissioned in 1977, most SSBN topside structures – including the sail or conning tower and its bridge along with the hydroplanes and rudder – were made of composites. The mid-1980s saw the introduction of pre-impregnated or ‘prepreg’ composites and vacuum-bag lay-up techniques resulting in tighter control over thickness. This process includes autoclave curing in stages up to 120°C. The new-generation high-performance components produced in this way include hydrodynamic sonar domes and external decking for Améthyste-class attack submarines. These innovations also met the dimensional and geometrical tolerances specified for the sonar domes, propulsor shrouds and other items for Le Triomphant-class SSBNs. Moulds produced by CNC machine tools were another important innovation. The proportion of composite parts incorporated into successive designs has risen steadily from 42 tonnes for Le Redoutable to 157 tonnes for Le Triomphant-class SSBNs.
    Caption: Mockup of hydrodynamic dome for first-of-class new-generation SSBN Le Triomphant
    Running commentary
    • 'SSBN topside structures': My first draft read 'structures that are visible when the boat is fully surfaced'. This is not a question of terminology proper in that 'topside' is not directly equivalent to 'la plupart des structures visibles en surface'. Translation students and beginners might, however, take note as this is a good example of how in-depth specialisation and broad reading can help translators to find elegant solutions that go well beyond the boundaries of conventional terminological research.
    • 'sail or conning tower': 'conning tower' is widely known thanks to countless occurrences in literature, films and games but not in wide use in naval writing. On the other hand, the technically correct 'sail' is so odd-looking for non-specialists that it seems advisable to mention both. The Wikipedia article entitled submarine explains as follows:
    A raised tower on top of a submarine accommodates the length of the periscope and electronics masts .... In pre-WWII boat-shaped classes of submarines, the control room, or "conn", was located inside this tower, which was known as the "conning tower". Since that time, however, conn has been located within the main body of the submarine, and the tower is more commonly called the 'sail'. In another interpretation, "conning tower" comes from the English verb "to con", which means "to navigate", indicating the presence of navigational systems in the conning tower. The conn should not be confused with the "bridge", which is a small platform set into the top of the sail used for visual observation while running on the surface.
    • 'the sail or conning tower and its bridge': I've added 'its' here to make it clear that the 'bridge' in question is part of the sail. Here too this seems advisable because non-specialists are liable to to be confused by this submarine-specific usage as opposed to the word's more common meaning in naval texts on surface vessels.
    • 'CNC machine tools': I have assumed that readers will be familiar with the acronym 'CNC' for 'computer numercial control'.
    • The French text is open to criticism given the mismatch between the large number of technical terms that are left unexplained compared with the more journalistic style. In this respect, the English is open to the same criticism.

    15 May 2014

    Show 'em ... _#7

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is a teaching/training/exchange exercise.
    Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.


    Block 4

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    Power & electricals in a four-storey module

    A Le Triomphant-class submarine’s power & electricals module is 9 metres tall, 6 metres across and 4 metres wide, or about the size of a small four-storey apartment. This 190-tonne structure houses a host of items including control consoles and mimic panels for the nuclear reactor, generating plant and propulsion system.

    In earlier submarine designs, these items were scattered throughout various decks and compartments and interconnected by masses of cabling resulting in an increased risk of vibration, hence noise.

    By grouping all these items together, the power & electricals module contributes directly to improved acoustic discretion. Plastic, silicone and rubber spacers and strips help to decouple cables, pipework and hull while allowing noiseless movement.

    Caption: Lowering a power & electricals module into position
    Running commentary
    • HLM, a type of public housing common in France, rendered by the generic (and international English) term 'apartment'. 'Four-storey apartment' sounds rather odd, but I can't see how else to phrase it. 'Four-storey apartment block' would be misleading it seems to me. (Hopefully, the British spellings 'storey' and 'tonne' will not trouble those unfamiliar with them too much.) The choice of British spelling is in line with DCN's established practice. (To my mind, it also identifies, in a tiny flag-waving way, the enterprise as European rather than American.)
    • The last sentence, corresponding to the last two of the French, is significantly simpler than the original with little or no loss of information.

    13 May 2014

    Show 'em ... _#6

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is an experiment. Feel free to submit comments or suggestions, including alternative and improved translations.

    Block 3

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    A giant Meccano® set

    The methods now used to integrate elastically-mounted blocks and suspended cradles with their hull sections mean that workers spend far less time in small spaces.
    Gone are the long arduous hours installing vital equipment in tightly confined spaces. Since the Le Triomphant, the first new-generation SSBN (French designation: SNLE-NG), DCN has made extensive use of pre-outfitted blocks and assemblies. Elastically-mounted blocks on suspended cradles accommodate all the main rotating machinery, each cradle being fully assembled  before integration with the relevant hull section. The integration of the largest and heaviest packages can require months of planning and preparation.
    Examples include the 190-tonne power & electricals module, the shaft line (18 metres in length by 800 mm in diameter), the 150-tonne aft motor and the 1,000-tonne propulsion module.
    Caption: Positioning an elastically-mounted block
    Running commentary
    • The French subheading (Un mécano géant) translates, word for word, as 'A giant mechanic'. I have assumed that the author meant to write Un Meccano géant (in French the brand name is written without an accent). Certainly the two are pronounced the same. If I'm right, it illustrates an application of #1 of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know, which is entitled Translators don’t translate words – they translate meaning. I also added the ® after 'Meccano' in line with best practice.
    • The first paragraph is a re-write in an attempt to clarify it and make it more concrete. Perhaps someone out there can do a better job.
    • Readers with even limited knowledge of naval matters are typically familiar with acronyms like SSBN, hence the importance of using them in the same way as naval writers do. It is also important, however, to include the French designation out of respect for French people who read the English translation, not least DCN (or today DCNS) employees. This slows the text down, but is difficult to avoid when writing in one language about products created in another.

    Show 'em ... _#5

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is an experiment. Feel free to submit comments or suggestions.
    The spelling used here is based on the analysis detailed in the February 2012 post -iz- is not American.

    Block 2

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    Sugar tongs for chez Maxim?

    A submarine’s pressure hull comprises a series of cylindrical sections welded end to end. DCN’s technique for butt-welding hull sections demands that the steel be preheated to a high temperature while carefully monitoring thermal expansion. The one-of-a-kind Gestec tool ensures controlled, even expansion. The 130-tonne ‘tongs’ hold the hull sections firmly but accurately in 22-metre-long arms.
    The tool’s prime function is to control the distortion of mating hull sections and maintain accurate alignment while welding. Alignment is controlled by 144 hydraulic jacks fitted with displacement and load sensors. The arms of the 18-metre-diameter tongs encircle the weld area while continuously controlling distortion and alignment. The computerised control station features several digital displays and four programmable logic controllers (PLCs) monitoring 400 parameters.
    Caption: ‘Sugar tongs’ ensure pressure hull sections are perfectly aligned during butt-welding
    Running commentary
    • Using 'Gestec', the tool's French name, without further explanation.
    • 'Tongs' works well.... it's just a little awkward that this singular concept is represented by a plural noun.
    • The multiple designations in English (tool, Gestec tool, tongs, 'sugar tongs') match those in the French. Best technical writing practice in English would require fewer designations. Multiple designations are, however, common in technical journalism in both languages.

    11 May 2014

    The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

    Steve Pinker's next book will be entitled The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. I look forward to it.
    For an interview with Pinker, see the Harvard Gazette article entitled What could be more interesting than how the mind works?’.

    Towards the end, Pinker makes some interesting comments on 'the curse of knowledge' which "prevents us from fully appreciating what it’s like to be a student or a reader". Pinker's 'us' refers to teachers, but the same approach applies equally well to technical journalism and the translation thereof or, in a nutshell, about how to see your readers.
    The final passages of Pinker's interview are remarkable in many respects. Clear. Refreshing. Insightful.
    Recommended reading for all, but more particularly for anyone over 40 who has expressed doubt about a younger generation.

    10 May 2014

    Arthur Goldhammer interview

    BloggerheadTV has an excellent interview -- particularly so for translators -- with Arthur Goldhammer, translator of Thomas Piketty's runaway success Le capital au XXIe siècle, or, in English, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

    Interviewer Mike Konczal asks insightful questions, from a translator's viewpoint, despite the fact that he is not a translator.

    A few points:
    • Goldhammer studied physics and mathematics and earned a PhD in mathematics before switching his primary focus to languages and then translation.
    • He mentions no formal training as a translator other than with the US Army's Vietnamese service.
    • He stresses the importance of his in-depth understanding of mathematics in translating texts dealing explicitly or indirectly with that field.
    • He readily admits that a couple of challenging technical terms in Capital in the Twenty-First Century that presented both author and translator with a choice between two equivalents might have been better translated by the term they ended up rejecting. Very few translators are open to this type of debate, but perhaps it's easier for truly great exponents of the art than for lesser ones.
    Between interview times 20:00 and 26:00, AG says that TP used patrimoine (wealth) and capital (capital) interchangeably and the translation could do the same. AG thus translated TP's approval rato capital/revenu as capital/income ratio, but now recognises that income/capital ratio would have been a better choice.
    At 42:40, AG introduces a useful concept when he discusses "the problem of translating from one community of reference to another ...".

    Check list for Which English?

    Sarah Dillon has a useful checklist to help into-English translators decide which variant of English and English spelling to use when the client fails to indicate a preference.

    06 May 2014

    Show 'em what you can do_#4

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is an experiment. Feel free to submit comments or suggestions.

    Block 1

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN

    100 HLES, steel for the deep

    A submarine’s dive performance is determined first and foremost by the strength of the hull material. Since the Narval – the country’s first post-World War II submarine built in 1954 – the yield strength of French hull steels has more than doubled. HLES-grade steels are in a class of their own. (HLES stands for haute limite d'élasticité soudable or ‘high-yield weldable’.)
    DCN and steel-maker Creusot-Loire Industrie developed HLES 100-grade steel specifically for the Le Triomphant programme. This steel can withstand a tensile stress of 100 kg/mm2, making it four times stronger than mild steel. By 1991, Creusot-Loire Industrie was supplying DCN with HLES steel to specifications unmatched by steelmakers delivering to either the US Navy or the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy.
    The product was developed by Creusot Loire laboratories in Burgundy and produced by its Chateauneuf steel mill. Heavy-gauge sheets of HLES 100 steel are shaped, stamped, cold formed and milled then welded together at DCN’s Cherbourg shipyard. The next challenge will be to produce HLES 120 and even HLES 130 steel.
    Caption: Collar for reactor pool. Approx. diam.: 6 m.
    Running commentary
    • HLES is important as it is the product's formal name. It also seems worthwhile to give both the long form of this French acronym and a translation.
    • 'Stronger' is not a precise engineering term but is, I think, acceptable in this technical journalism context.
    • Italics for the names of ships:
      In literature and general journalism, italics is the rule.
      In naval technical writing many writers only use italics for the names of ships in service, but not for vessels that have yet to be commissioned or have been decommissioned.
      In the shipbuilding industry, projects go through many phases before the first vessel is commissioned and the name of the proposed ship or class may change frequently. Writers are thus easily confused as to when they should and should not use italics. My advice to any shipbuilder or naval projects office that asks is simple: No italics. Many may disagree. But many will disagree whatever the writer chooses to do.

    Show 'em what you can do_#3

    As the heading suggests, this post is one of a series.
    To follow, start with Show 'em what you can do_#1 and proceed in chronological order.
    This is an experiment. Feel free to submit comments or suggestions.
    The spelling used here is based on the analysis detailed in the February 2012 post -iz- is not American.

    Heading and introduction

    For the French, see Les paris gagnés de DCN
    DCN innovates time and again
    Thanks to inventors like Maxime Laubeuf (1864–1939) and Gustave Zédé (1825–1891), France has long stayed a step ahead of its competitors in submarine design and construction. Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, DCN has repeatedly demonstrated its flair for innovation. Today, DCN is a leading European submarine builder and a major exporter with clients that include the navies of Spain, Portugal , Pakistan and Chile. Below we describe some cutting-edge techniques developed for the French Navy’s Le Triomphant-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, or SSBNs.
    Running commentary
    • International readers will probably want a little more information about the inventors than the French provides.
    • Second sentence of French contains too many ideas. I've attempted to break it up.
    • Many readers, including non-specialists, will likely be more familiar with the standard acronym SSBN than the long form (nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine), hence the early introduction.
    • Note too that while the general rule in technical journalism is to give the long form corresponding to each acronym, some naval acronyms are in a category of their own. SSBN stands for ship, submersible, ballistic (missile), nuclear (powered). It is what is called a standard hull classification symbol and, like other symbols of this type, is normally introduced as above.

    03 May 2014

    Show 'em what you can do_#2

    The web page I've chosen to translate for this exercise is called
    Les paris gagnés de DCN.

    Although out of date (DCN became DCNS is 2007), it presents plenty of challenges that will, I hope, give me a chance to present and discuss my approach to translation/adaptation as outlined in Translation by emulation, take #1 and Translation by emulation, take #2.


    Preliminary assumptions

    The first step towards producing a reader-centred translation is to define the readership.
    The target readership I have in mind can be described as keen and technically aware but non-specialist. In other words, people who regularly read about naval and defence issues, but are specialists in neither. I also assume no in-depth knowledge of France, French institutions or DCN. I further assume that a significant proportion will be reading in their second or third language.

    Title (Les paris gagnés de DCN)

    The first translation challenge proper is the title or heading.
    Literally it translates as either 'Winning DCN hands' or 'DCN winning hands'.
    Unfortunately, neither sounds particularly natural or works well as an attention grabber.

    Although not entirely satisfied, I propose:
    DCN innovates time and again.

    The idea of building the heading around an active verb was proposed by rereader and colleague Roger Depledge of Toulouse, France.
    Roger suggested the Biggles pattern
    [Entity] [verb] [key word or two (no more than two or three syllables each)].

    Biggles flies again is a good example.
    Before even beginning to search for a reminder of the style used in Captain W.E. Johns' Biggles comics, I understood instantly what Roger meant.
    (I also realise that this may indelibly stamp our respective generations.)

    Show 'em what you can do_#1

    When a prospective client asks a freelance translator for a sample of his or her work, the response is sometimes a lame "I'm afraid all my work is subject to client privilege" or similar.
    When asked if they will accept to do a free trial, many translators, quite reasonably, reply that while pro bono work may be envisaged on occasions, free trials are not good professional practice.

    In this age of the internet, there are, however, a number of easy-to-implement solutions.
    One is to critique the work of others.
    Dominique Jonkers Facebook page entitled Des pépites sur le bout de la langue is a good example in French.
    Note, however, that this approach demands expertise and confidence and that the tone of the criticism must be pitch perfect so to speak.

    Another is to show 'em what you can do, using the following approach:
    • Find an web page of interest in your source language, irrespective of whether it is current or out of date.
    • Translate it.
    • Post your translation on your blog, website of whatever complete with translation notes, or, alternatively, format your translation as a Word or html document, or whatever format is most convenient.
    • Send your link(s) or document(s) to anyone who asks.
    To demonstrate my point, I have located an out-of-date web page in my prime area of specialisation (naval defence and submarines), translated it, submitted my translation to colleagues for review and comment and will shortly post here my proposed translations with notes.

    What sort of notes?
    First, some notes on preliminary assumptions.
    Second, notes concerning liberties taken and readily anticipated comments or queries by prospective clients and colleagues.
    Third, some miscellaneous notes indicative of the sorts of things that run through a translator's mind while working.

    Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit

    Following the two posts below ( Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit ), my colleague and reviser Graham Cross wrote: Just out of interest...