Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Keeping Up With Your Field

I specialize in technical translations, particularly IT, but I haven't actually been an IT manager or technical writer for more than a decade. (I was both of these things -- consecutively, not simultaneously -- before embarking on a translation career in 2000.) So while I still deal with any electronics- or wiring-related problems at home and for friends and family, I no longer spend my days immersed in computers. Since technology changes fairly rapidly in this field, I need to make a conscious effort to keep up with the latest terminology.

To do so, I subscribe to a couple of technology magazines, such as Wired, and regularly read online computer articles at sites such as CNet. I do own some specialized computer dictionaries, but by the time such a dictionary is printed, it is already outdated. On my trips to Europe, I pick up the latest issue of various computer magazines so I can keep up with the German terminology in the field -- although much of that is English anyway.

IT is probably extreme in terms of terminological change, but even in less rapidly-changing fields, such as finance, new terms develop, or at least enter the mainstream vocabulary. Before the recent economic crisis, for example, few people knew that a number of risky financial instruments even existed, let alone knew what they were called. Now everyone is familiar with subprime mortgages and various types of swaps, among other terms.

Specialized printed dictionaries rarely can keep up with these changes in a timely manner. That is why most of us rely on online resources in our terminology research. I use LEO, the online German-English dictionary originally developed by the computer science department at the Technical University of Munich, extensively, in addition to various other sites.

What are some of your favorite online resources?


  1. For online IT terminology you can check the Microsoft Language Portal,

  2. Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas. To keep up with my field of specialization, which is also IT, among others, I visit IT-related events, hold a speech from time to time, read IT-news on TechCrunch, Mashable. Recently I published article about my experience (

    During my work I also use Microsoft Language Portal, IT Glossary / Dictionary for Computer Terms ( Other useful resources I've been collecting can be found on "Translation and l10n resources" page of my blog (



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