10 July 2017

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 I've had another play with the manoeuvre on paper and it still doesn't seem right to me. I would have thought that he would need to brace the foresail to be on the larboard tack and turn the rudder to larboard as well (not both to starboard). The foresail would offer little turning moment (its yard being in line with the wind), but the combined effect of the tide on the rudder and the backed spritsail might just bring the head round sufficiently for the foresail to fill, which would then bring the ship to drift downtide at right angles to it, facing the town, where it would effectively be in stays.

Clubhauling on the kedge is then the obvious way to bring the stern into the wind and cause the sails to fill - though the main would probably blanket the foresail so that it hung limp unless the wind was well on the beam, which does not square with it being a northeaster as the ship moved downchannel past Alcantara.

In such a situation everything would depend on the relative strengths of wind and tide (the latter usually having more effect, and the large windage of the high hull more than offsetting and countering the pull from the foresail).


Portuguese Carracks off a rocky coast - National Maritime Museum

It shows what despite the title is actually the same carrack on different points of sail (the wind is coming from many different quarters all at the same time!). Note the human figures are to half scale, just to make the ships look more imposing. I'm pretty sure the scene is a fanciful adaptation of Lisbon. There's also a nice little reference to the caravela latina, with one putting out from the shore. One day soon, I hope to on the caravel Boa Esperanca. The rig is reputedly a pig to sail downwind but a dream into the wind.

*****
I have posted Graham's comments here to give interested translators an indication of the depth of understanding that is sometimes required to understand a text in depth to the point of having the confidence to query the author's version.

02 July 2017

Night jasmine

Here is my translation*.


Night jasmine

by François Bellec
(p128 ==>)

Lisbon

Signal flags and pennants were run up to the mast-tops enjoining all vessels to make ready to sail and heave their anchor cables to short stay. After checking the acknowledgements indicating that all were ready, the board of dignitaries on the flagship countersigned the order to depart. Seconds later, the decks were swarming with sailors. The Master jumped down from the aftercastle then stood above but a couple of paces back from the Captain, dom Afonso de Noronha, and Viceroy who had closed ranks without exchanging a word. From here the Master was within easy hailing distance of his men.

The signal to make ready to sail had stirred the fleet and lifted spirits both on deck and in the rigging as the crew hoisted signals repeating the Captain-General’s orders. Church bells across the city began pealing loudly but were soon drowned out on deck by the bell on the forecastle breastwork. Trumpets, shawms, sackbuts, recorders, cornetts, cymbals and drums helped give a relatively common event for a sailor an air of festive, even historic, splendour. 
After going through the motions of a formal exchange with the Captain-General and Captain, the Master piped for the crew’s attention then cupped his hands and roared:
– Loose the foresail!

On hearing the order repeated on the Master’s mate’s whistle, the foremast topmen unfurled the foresail. Flapping gently against the mast, it hung from the yard with the cross of the Order of Christ spread out wide. Held by her anchor but feeling both the ebbing tide and the north-easterly, the carrack rolled gently from side to side, her foresail filled but backed, her bow to the city and her stern to the Atlantic as if reluctant to leave. François, acutely aware of the challenge to come, particularly for a vessel ten times bigger than anything he had ever known, wondered just how the Master planned to swing her bow to the open sea. The rest of the fleet had been swung around, bow to sea, by their boats aided by the morning flood tide. They were thus ready to set sail just a soon as the flagship had shown the way. Bastião Cordeiro, the flagship’s Master, had st himself a task and a half. Supremely confident, he had obviously thought hard about his daring but pointless manoeuver for the pure pleasure of it and for the sheer bravura of offering Portugal’s Viceroy of India a majestic departure. With the entire fleet ready to sail, every sailor watched the flagship intently as they awaited the audacious manoeuver.
– Heave the anchor to short stay!

Under the forecastle, sailors impatient after the long wait strained at the capstan to the tempo of a shanty and the click of the pawl on the ratchet ready to prevent the drum from unwinding. Chests and arms on the bars, they began to haul on the anchor heavy cable – thick as a man’s thigh – and warp the carrack against the tidal stream. Taut under the strain, the cable dripped wrung water and reeked of tar and sludge. After a few minutes that felt like hours, the Master’s mate, hanging from a foremast shroud, swung out over the Tagus to check that the anchor was straight up and down. With a blast of his whistle and a wave of his arm, he stopped the capstan then went astern to report:
– Anchor apeak!
– Brace the foresail to starboard! Loose the sprit-sail! Weigh anchor!

The men on the capstan bars strained harder than ever to break out the enormous cast-iron anchor, its flukes deep in the riverbed as if hanging on desperately to the Portuguese mainland. Finally, up she came. Dark, shiny and dripping, like the skeleton of some sea monster.
– Anchor up!
– Cat the anchor! Helm hard to starboard!

The order was relayed through the hatchway to the helmsmen under the quarterdeck. Heaving hand-over-hand on the helm tackle, they forced the tiller and rudder hard over to the starboard stops.

Responding gently to the tidal stream, Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo began to make way astern while turning slowly upon herself to larboard under the combined action of the breeze forward – the foresail had filled while the small sprit-sail under the bowsprit backed – and the rudder’s resistance. François explained to his companion that it looked as though the ship would come to a standstill when perpendicular to the wind, with no hope of completing the intended turn given the hull’s size and windage and that she was making no headway.
– So …?
– Well, either they drop an anchor or we run aground.
– Is this the way it’s usually done? It seems very complicated doesn’t it?

Several sailors were busy securing the great bower to the starboard cathead, well aware that if ever it were to shift as the ship rolled with the first swells on leaving the channel, the moving mass of iron could wreak tremendous damage.
– Loose the main-sail!

The brails loosed, the passengers below were startled by a great whooshing and flapping as the unfurling canvas billowed and filled fitfully. The huge red cross of the Order of Christ spread out as if challenging the forces of evil hampering the sail’s smooth filling as it fought the blustering wind and flung rigging and blocks in a crazy dance punctuated by frightening claps.

Suddenly, as if there had been a quick change of scene, the carrack stood magnificent under the intensely blue sky with a scattering of small cumulus presaging fine weather. Like a bold monument to discoverers and the glory of Portugal. Leaning toward the open hatch at his feet, the Master gave an order that nobody heard, but which resulted in a large splash aft and a shudder under foot. A few seconds later, the ship heeled to starboard then began to make way astern, a motion that both surprised and unsteadied many of the onlookers. As the kedge anchor that had just been cast from the stern took hold and its cable took the strain, the carrack lost way astern. The passengers’ view of the world now began to turn as if by enchantment.
– Harden up the foresail! Brace the mainsail to larboard and fill! Helm amidships!

To the tempo of the Master gunner’s strident whistle, the deck hands hauled feverishly on the tackles to brace the mainyard. The main sheets being one of the gunner’s responsibilities, he had one of the four petty officers’ pipes on deck. To the measure of the yeoman’s pipe and aided by several of the ship’s boys, other sailors hauled hand over hand on the sheet tackles to fill the mainsail. The ship began to speak, as pleasant to the sailor’s ears as a babe’s babbling to its mother’s. The forces of evil having, it would appear, yielded, the enormous sail suddenly filled with a clap. And just as suddenly, all went quiet aloft. The moment he felt that the heading was right and the sails in hand, the Master shouted down the hatch:
– Let the kedge anchor go!

Cut clean with an axe, the cable shot through the hawsehole then whipped through the air, leaving the kedge anchor in the Tagus mud. A cork buoy bobbed on its pendant indicating the spot in the ship’s wake where a shipyard barge would later recover the precious item of crown property. The signal flags were hauled down, indicating to the other vessels they should weigh anchor in order of precedence according to their Captain’s rank.
– Hoist the fore topsail!

Impatient after the long wait, the topmen shot up the foremast shrouds while the mainmast topmen stood ready at the foot of theirs. When the carrack had gathered sufficient headway, the Master fine-tuned his pyramid of canvas, adding a couple of Order of Christ crosses to the skyscape. Since Prince Henry the Navigator’s time, the blood-red crosses on raw canvas symbolised the country’s Christian faith and the Order’s moral authority over the discoveries. They also evoked Henry’s critical role in funding expeditions when Portugal was still a poor cousin, which is to say before it became the richest country in the world and foreign courts referred to Manuel I, with bitter envy, as the ‘pepper king’.
– Hoist the maintopsail! Loose the mizzen!

The lateen mizzen-mast sail unfurled then filled with a clap like a musket shot that startled the dignitaries on the aftercastle, including those who were just beginning to feel as though they were getting their sea legs.

The Master crossed himself then handed over to the Tagus Pilot. On a broad reach and under full sail, with the rest of the fleet in her wake, Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo was ready to work through the channel. The Master’s authority, the arcane skill that enabled him to drive the huge carrack where he wanted, to have her respond to his voice like a well-trained horse, had charmed the onlookers one and all. Suddenly, François bellowed “Bravo!” and the crowd responded with applause, laughter and lively conversation. On the quarterdeck, the Viceroy himself wiped the furrows from his brow and applauded elegantly, the Captain following suit with compliments and courtiers accompanying them with applause. Resenting the tributes to the rough Master’s skill, the High Seas Pilot-General went below before the manoeuvre had been completed, a worried scowl on his face.
***
FR: 1,650 words. EN: 1,573 words.

Notes

Title

The original is entitled L’arbre de nuit, literally ‘the tree of night’. This appears to correspond to what is now called night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum) or possibly Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac). The version proposed here is simply a working title.

* My thanks to Graham Cross who, in addition to being both an eminent translator and an experienced sailor, has sailed on a modern replica or a carrack
and thus has a good idea of how they handle.

L’arbre de nuit

Voici un extrait (à partir de la page 128) du livre L’arbre de nuit par François Bellec

Lisbonne

Le signal de se tenir prêt à l’appareillage général monta en tête du grand mât, et le mât de misaine arbora celui de virer les ancres à pic. Ayant vérifié que les pavillons d’aperçu indiquaient partout que la flotte était prête, le conseil des principaux du navire venait de contresigner collectivement l’ordre de départ. Le pont fut aussitôt envahi par des matelots accourus de toute part. Le maître d’équipage avait dégringolé du toit de la dunette au balcon du gaillard et se tenait juste au-dessous du vice-roi et du capitaine, dom Afonso de Noronha, avancés de deux pas pour se rapprocher, sans se commettre, à portée de voix des forces vives de la caraque.

Le signal de l’appareillage avait partout réveillé la flotte et généré une joyeuse animation sur les ponts et dans les mâtures qui se couvrirent d’oriflammes répétant les signaux du capitaine général. Les bourdons des églises se mirent à sonner au loin à toute volée, bientôt couverts par la cloche de fronteau du gaillard d’avant. Trompettes, hautbois, sacqueboutes, flûtes à bec, cornets à bouquin, cymbales et tambours concouraient à donner à un incident naturel de la vie des gens de mer sa dimension festive d’évènement historique. Après s’être concerté pour la forme avec le capitaine-major et le capitaine, le maître saisit son sifflet, en tira une harmonieuse modulation et hurla brusquement, les mains en porte-voix :
– Largue la misaine !

L’ordre répercuté par le sifflet du contremaître fit s’activer les gabiers du mât de misaine à déferler la voile de l’avant. Elle s’abattit depuis sa vergue, révélant la crois de l’Ordre du Christ, laissée mollement battante appuyée sur le mât. Retenue par son ancre, soumise au reflux de la marée et au vent du nord-est, la caraque oscillait lentement d’un bord et de l’autre, la proue face à Lisbonne, la misaine recevant le vent à contre, tournant le dos à l’Atlantique comme si elle renâcler à partir. François qui jaugeait parfaitement la difficulté savourait à l’avance la manière dont allait se retourner cap pour cap le vaisseau dix fois plus gros que tout ce qu’il avait connu. Tous les autres navires de la flotte, aidés de leurs embarcations, s’étaient embossés face à l’aval en profitant de la marée montante du matin. Ils appareilleraient donc en un instant après la caraque amirale. Bastião Cordeiro, maître d’équipage de l’amirale, ne pouvait être au-dessous de sa tâche. Sur de son art, il avait manifestement mûri une manœuvre inutile et extrêmement osée par pur plaisir et par coquetterie d’offrir au vice-roi des Indes le panache d’un appareillage en majesté. Sur les navires en alerte alentour, tous les hommes d’équipages avaient les yeux fixés sur la spectacle attendu d’une invraisemblable manœuvre.
– Vire à pic !

Sous le gaillard d’avant, le grand cabestan se mit à tourner, mû par la force libérée des hommes énervés par l’attente, entrainés par un chant rythmé par le tambour et par le cliquetis des linguets qui empêchaient la machine de dévirer. Poussant de la poitrine et des bras sur les barres, ils commencèrent à embraquer tour pour tour le câble gros comme une cuisse, déhalant la caraque contre le courant. Écrasé sous l’effort, l’énorme cordage qui reliait la nef à son ancre suait l’eau dont il était imbibé dans une forte odeur de goudron et de vase. Après quelques minutes qui semblèrent des heures, le contremaître, cramponné à un hauban du mât de misaine le corps au-dessus du Tage, constata que le câble de l’ancre était à la verticale. Arrêtant la rotation du cabestan d’un coup de sifflet et d’un grand geste du bras, il se retourna vers l’arrière et rendit compte :
– L’ancre est à pic !
– Brasse la misaine à tribord ! Largue la civadière ! Vire à déraper !

Les hommes s’arc-boutèrent plus dur sur les barres pour arracher l’énorme ancre en fer forgé, enfoncée des deux pattes dans le sol portugais comme si elle refusait de le quitter. Elle apparut enfin noire, luisante et dégoulinante comme un squelette de monstre marin.
– L’ancre est haute !
– À saisir ! La barre toute à droite !

Sur cet ordre relayé à travers l’écoutille, les timoniers postés sous le gaillard amenèrent promptement la manuelle sur sa butée tribord, à grandes brassées de palan. Le long barreau de bois traversait le pont pour agir loin en dessous sur le timon.

Emportée doucement par le courant, Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo commença à dériver en culant, pivotant lentement sur bâbord sous l’effet de couple généré à l’avant par la misaine et la petite civadière établie sous le beaupré, qui recevaient le vent à contre, et à l’arrière par le frein du gouvernail en travers. Quand la caraque fut perpendiculaire au vent, François expliqua à son compagnon que l’énorme surface de sa coque trouvait là une ferme position d’équilibre et que, sans erre, elle n’avait pas le moindre espoir de poursuivre sa giration.
– Alors ?
– Alors, il reste l’alternative de jeter une ancre à nouveau ou d’aller s’échouer à la côte.
– Est-ce une manœuvre habituelle? Elle semble bien compliquée. Non?
On s’activait au bossoir tribord à immobiliser la grande ancre à son poste de mer, à entraver cette masse de fer active, prête à tout démolir autour d’elle comme un taureau de combat dès que la caraque se mettrait à rouler au sortir des passes.
– Largue la grand-voile !

Ses cargues brusquement libérées, la lourde voile de toile épaisse s’abattit au-dessus des têtes dans un grondement chuintant qui affola les passagers dont le front reflua en désordre. L’immense croix rouge de l’Ordre du Christ se déploya comme un défi adressé aux forces du mal, contre lesquelles semblait lutter la voile en battant furieusement au vent, agitant en tous sens manœuvres et poulies dans une sarabande infernale traversée de claquements terrifiants.

Le décor venait de changer d’un coup. La caraque était maintenant magnifique sous le ciel très bleu parsemé de petits cumulus de beau temps. Impressionnante comme un monument élevé à la mémoire des découvreurs et à la gloire du Portugal. Se penchant vers l’écoutille ouverte à ses pieds, le maître lança un ordre que personne n’entendit mais auquel répondirent le bruit d’une chute dans l’eau et une vibration du pont. Quelques instants plus tard, la caraque s’inclina d’un mouvement très doux sur tribord et amorça un léger recul qui surprit et déséquilibra les spectateurs. Elle réagissait souplement au coup de frein brutal causé par l’ancre d’embossage que l’on venait de laisser tomber du tableau arrière, dont le grelin venait de se tendre brusquement en grinçant. Le paysage alentour commença à tourner comme par enchantement.
– Change la misaine ! Brasse la grand-voile à bâbord et fais servir ! La barre au milieu !

Les matelots de pont actionnèrent fébrilement les treuils à brasser pour réorienter la grand-vergue sous les encouragements stridulants du maître canonnier, responsable des grandes écoutes et titulaire pour cette charge d’un des quatre sifflets de la maistrance. D’autres, renforcés par des grumètes, embraquaient main sur main, au sifflet du gardien, les palans des amures de la grand-voile pour lui faire prendre le vent. Le bateau bruissait de gazouillis impérieux comme une volière en chaleur. Les forces du mal ayant sans doute renoncé, l’énorme voile se gonfla brusquement en claquant. La paix et le silence régnèrent tout d’un coup dans la mâture. Dès qu’il jugea que le cap du navire et la situation de la voilure étaient dans sa main, le maître lança par l’écoutille:
– File en grand !

Sa retenue tranchée à la hache, le grelin disparut par le sabord en fouettant l’air, abandonnant l’ancre d’embossage au fond du Tage. Une bouée en liège se dandinant au bout de son orin indiquerait dans le sillage l’emplacement de ce matériel de la couronne à la barge dc l’arsenal qui viendrait le récupérer. Les signaux d’appareillage furent halés bas, ordonnant aux autres navires de la flotte de déraper dans l’ordre de préséance de leurs capitaines.
– À hisser le petit hunier !

L’ordre lâcha les gabiers impatients à l’assaut des haubans du mât de misaine. Ceux du grand hunier se tenaient prêts au pied du grand mât. Quand la caraque prit de l’erre en avant, le maître peaufina tranquillement son échafaudage de toile, ajoutant encore quelques croix du Christ dans le ciel. Depuis le temps où Henri le Navigateur en était le gouverneur, ces croix peintes sur la toile grège symbolisaient la foi chrétienne et affirmaient le poids moral de l’ordre dans la motivation des découvertes. Elles rappelaient aussi sa participation déterminante à leur financement quand le Portugal n’était encore qu’un petit État pauvre. C’était avant qu’il devienne le plus riche du monde et que les cours étrangères surnomment avec une aigre envie Manuel Ier le roi du poivre.
– À hisser le grand hunier! Largue l’artimon!

Le triangle de l’artimon se déploya brusquement et prit le vent en claquant comme un coup de mousquet au-dessus du château arrière, faisant reculer les gens importants qui s’y sentaient déjà marins.

Le maître se signa et confia la caraque aux ordres du pilote de la barre du Tage. Toutes ses voiles dehors et pleines, Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo courait au grand largue prête à manœuvrer rapidement pour franchir les passes, entraînant la flotte derrière elle. L’autorité du maitre, sa science ésotérique capable de faire évoluer le monstrueux navire, de le plier à sa voix comme un cheval dompté avaient médusé les témoins. Brusquement, François cria « Bravo ! » et la foule explosa en applaudissements, en rires et en commentaires animés. Sur la dunette, le vice-roi lui-même, qui avait montré un front soucieux, battit des mains avec élégance, entraînant aussitôt les félicitations du capitaine et les applaudissements courtisans de leur entourage. Ne supportant pas l’hommage inconsidéré rendu à l’habilité d’un rustre, le pilote-major pour la haute mer s’était retiré avant la fin de la manœuvre en affichant un air préoccupé.
***

1650 mots

A warship by any other name

A warship by any other name

Steve Dyson explores naval terminology across borders*

This paper is intended for journalists, technical communicators and translators writing in English about naval programmes originating in non-English-speaking countries.

Let’s begin with naval prefixes like HMS and USS which are part of a ship’s official name. First, it’s very rare to see HMS (His/Her Majesty’s Ship) in the long form, even in, say, daily newspapers which normally explain all acronyms and abbreviations. The same goes for USS (United States Ship) and USNS (United States Navy Ship) in the US. There are at least two reasons for this: these abbreviations are listed in most general–purpose dictionaries and they are already familiar to most readers. Less common warship abbreviations are often explicated, but not always fully, especially in specialist publications. SSBN, for example, is rarely seen in its formal but distinctly odd-sounding long form ‘ship submersible ballistic nuclear’. The more natural sounding ‘nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine’ is much more common but leaves the ‘SS’ unexplained.

Some navies, including the French and Spanish, do not use prefixes in their official languages. Despite this, some English-language writers apply their own prefixes to the names of ships operated by these navies. In so doing, these writers have created a new category of prefix that is not part of the ship’s official name. While a NATO staffer may have good reasons (involving uniformity, etc.) for using prefixes of one sort or another with the names of all ships, irrespective of their country of origin, this writer’s needs, aims and context differ significantly from those of a translator or journalist who earns his living writing in English to promote the French naval defence industry.

Technical writers and journalists need to know that these designations do not follow the normal ‘rules’ for explaining abbreviations. Among other functions, the unwritten code behind this – and all jargon – may be to help specialists set themselves apart from the uninitiated.

In the generic term ‘amphibious assault ship’ the adjective ‘amphibious’ qualifies the noun string ‘assault ship’, not the head word ‘ship’. This is not at all obvious to non-specialists and is even less so when the term is shortened, as it commonly is, to ‘amphibious ship’. Anyone unfamiliar with the notion is likely to conjure up a comical image of a huge ship trundling up a beach and across the dunes to face the enemy...

Another example is the term ‘power projection ship’, which has emerged as a higher-level generic covering aircraft carriers, helicopter carriers, assault ships and similar vessels and reflecting modern-day naval doctrines. Aside from sounding fresher, new terms carry additional weight when they refer to a new doctrine or other transformational change, to use another term that is now de rigueur. Time will tell whether ‘power projection ship’ takes hold or not, the pacesetters being technical journalists and naval shipbuilders’ marketing departments. Similarly, some shipbuilders’ marketing departments now appear to avoid the word ‘assault’, possibly because of the negative connotations, possibly because they promote themselves as naval defence contractors, with due stress on the word ‘defence’.

A few words about why USN short-form designations. Without going into the details of US Navy designations, it’s worth pointing out that many are designed to overcome difficulties arising from the fact that English is a left-branching language. In English, we say “yellow rope”, whereas the French, who speak a right-branching language, say “corde jaune”. When cataloguing in a right-branching language, alphabetization automatically results in items of the same general type being listed together. In English, quartermasters, cataloguers and others must adopt artificial right-branching structures, often with commas (e.g. “rope, yellow” or “ship, submersible, ballistic, nuclear”), to achieve the same result. Military designations in English adopt this practice, in part or in full, to structure catalogues and lists. Unfortunately, the complex conventions adopted are far from transparent to the uninitiated, let alone non-native speakers and inexperienced translators. Some designations appear to derive from a mix of left- and right-branching rules, but I have yet to master the logic (if there is one).

Things become even more complicated when writing in one language about programmes (and their abbreviations) created in another. Consider the French Navy’s BPC programme (where BPC stands for ‘bâtiment de projection et de commandement’). When writing about this in English, it’s obviously important to mention not only the official designation (BPC), but also what it means. The shipbuilder, DCN, uses ‘BPC force projection and command vessel’. This reads well and has a certain rhythm to it despite the fact that it effectively says the same thing twice (once in the French abbreviation and again in full in English). Jane’s Naval Forces, a publication many look to for guidance in such matters, once called it an ‘amphibious assault, command and power projection ship (BPC)’ which, to me, doesn’t read as well.

French ships, including Le Triomphant-class SSBNs, with names including the French definite article ‘Le’ may, in addition, take the English definite article, although different authors have different opinions on the matter… In either case, writers can help layout teams to avoid ugly line breaks between words that should not be separated by replacing the space after ‘Le’ by a hard space.

On 7 October 2004, Jane’s Navy International (see Jane’s homepage and Jane’s Naval Forces) carried an article entitled “French Navy’s first Mistral assault ship takes to the water”, stating “the French Navy’s amphibious force regeneration plans achieved a major milestone on 6 October 2004 with the launch of FS Mistral, the amphibious assault, command and power projection ship (BPC), from DCN’s shipyard in Brest.”

FS stands for French ship. Jane’s and other English-language publications sometimes use this prefix and others like it, despite the fact that it’s unknown to the Navy in question. While the RN’s HMS Ocean is marked as such, the French Navy’s Mistral certainly doesn’t carry the English-language marking FS and I’ve yet to see a French officer writing in English use it.                                                                                                            
The US magazine SeaWaves uses the abbreviation FS consistently when referring to French vessels.
Note also that Jane’s Navy International, like other publications that write frequently about programmes originally named in other languages, is perfectly comfortable with a French acronym (here BPC) accompanied by a long-form designation or other explanation in English.                                                                              
Yet another detail of presentation that can take a while to get used to.
Other examples include: ENS for Egyptian Naval Ship, FGS for Federal German Ship, HS for Hellenic Ship, etc. For more, see http://www.seawaves.com/prefixes.htm.

So what are the lessons from all this? Although naval terminology might be expected to follow a highly structured nomenclature, there is huge variation. It would take a much longer article to consider all the challenges facing copywriters and translators trying to reconcile their clients’ entrenched habits with the need for more consistent designations and yet another to consider the impact on rhythm and readability. In the meantime, language professionals need to research their clients’ preferences and model their texts accordingly. And if you are commissioning translations, providing glossaries and style guides helps ensure that the end product is accurate and in line with client expectations.

***
* An earlier version of this paper was published in the Winter 2005 issue of Communicator, the quarterly journal of the UK-based Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators.
USN hull classification symbols (aka hull codes) are explained at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull_classification_symbol
Steve Dyson writes (in English) and translates (from French) technical journalism and technical and corporate brochures, websites, datasheets and press releases for Europe’s naval defence industry.

***
In response to this article, Tony Eyre of MISTC wrote:
“It might interest readers to know that, here at Rolls Royce, we use a convention when writing submarine names that is agreed and preferred by the Navy.
Single ships in commission (that is, in active service, even if laid up for repair) are written in upper case: HMS TRAFALGAR.
Ships of the same class are written with initial capitals but without ‘HMS’ : Trafalgar Class (not HMS Trafalgar Class).
Decommissioned ships are written with initial capitals but lose their HMS status: Valiant.”

***

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...