METM14 presentation

Terminology and usage searching on the net: making the sequence of decisions explicit

Karen Shashok, Granada, Spain

Downward pressure on translation rates and turnaround times means translators may accept commitments that do not allow them to spend “as long as it takes” to check discipline-specific technical terms and language usage conventions. Another potential obstacle to translation quality is that consulting some recent, reliable resources in certain disciplines is often not an economically viable option because of publishers’ pay-per-view policies. So translators – particularly those who are self-taught and self-trained – may need to develop strategies for efficient terminology and usage research.
The aim of this presentation is to describe the algorithm to obtain evidence that translators can use to decide, as efficiently as possible, whether to use or reject a term or phrase. The algorithm is based on two main criteria: lexical accuracy and the likely trustworthiness of different internet sources.
When I translated for a bilingual medical specialty journal whose editors would (initially) not let the translators contact the authors to request clarification, I developed an efficient internet search and decision-making strategy based on the principle of “web as a corpus”. Since then the strategy has allowed me to save time on all subsequent scientific, technical and medical (STM) translations. It has been particularly valuable for more challenging translations about specialized subjects I am initially unfamiliar with. As with most decision-making processes, speed increases with practice.
This approach has not been compared to others such as the use of a purposely-built corpus or a resource (such as a glossary) provided by the client, so I cannot claim that it is the best, the fastest or the most reliable one. The algorithm can be used instead of or in addition to other resources according to the nature of the work and the translator’s skills, experience and preferences.
Karen Shashok, a freelance translator and editorial consultant since the mid-1980s, has written about translation, author’s editing, peer review and editorial ethics, and has provided training in Spanish and English for researchers and editors on several continents. As a member of professional development organizations for journal editors, she has tried to bring the perspective of researchers and editors from emerging and resource-limited research communities to the attention of western, English-speaking gatekeepers and experts in research ethics. In the late 2000s she began AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean as a volunteer project.