Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Society for Technical Communication's Annual Conference

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is the best-known professional association for technical writers, translators and teachers of these professions. I have been a member of STC since I moved from using computer documentation (as an IT manager for a non-profit organization) to writing that documentation (for a software developer) many years ago.

STC's 2009 Annual Conference will be held in Atlanta in early May. Not only will this be my first such conference, but I will be presenting on international technical translation. The way this "progression" works, apparently, is that I sit at a table with eight or so other conference attendees and give a 10-minute presentation, followed by about 20 minutes of discussion among everyone at the table. This setup is then repeated with a new group of attendees. By now, I have written and re-written my presentation a number of times and read a half dozen books on being a presenter, but I'm still not sure how exactly this will work.

The title of my presentation is "Preparing Text for Translation: One Translator's Perspective". I'll talk about writing issues and additional information which help to improve the quality and efficiency of a translation.

For example, I just translated a document where various sections appear to have been written by different departments within the company, each using its own terminology. In the beginning, I didn't know whether a slightly different term was actually trying to refer to something different or whether it was simply a different way of saying the same thing. Developing a consistent company terminology -- and providing the translator with a list of such terms -- would have made my job a lot easier. It would probably also have made both the original document and the translation more consistent. In the end, when in doubt I had to assume that two different terms actually did mean two different things, even if they could (and probably sometimes did) mean the same thing.

It would be helpful if everyone whose writing may at some point be expressed in another language were aware of some of these issues. To that end, I will try to devote some of my future posts to writing text for translation. Meanwhile, however, I'll go back to looking over that presentation (and possibly rewriting it) yet another time ...

Until next week,


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