Scientific and technical Italian translation

Today there is an enormous demand for scientific and technical Italian translation. Most scientific texts are written in English, and translations into Italian and other languages are imperative in order to make scientific advancements available to the non-English speaking world. Scientific and technical Italian translation enables expansion of knowledge in two ways: by contributing to the body of scientific knowledge in Italian, and the body of technical words in the fields of science and technology in Italian.

Fundamentally, scientific and technical Italian translation is quite similar to translating texts in any other genre. Just like an Italian translator in any other genre, the Italian translator of the scientific and technical texts must be thoroughly acquainted with the terms specific to the language and the features specific to the genre in the target as well as the source languages.

If any peculiar problems arise in scientific and technical Italian translation, it is because of the nature of the subject and the nature of the language used to communicate that subject. Scientific texts are factual, their purpose is to present, explain and disseminate information. This calls for clarity, simplicity and disambiguity in language. The approach is always objective. The terminology is semantically specific, that is, it is marked by the absence of connotative meanings and associations.

Despite such straight-forwardness, scientific texts often confront the Italian translator with certain difficulties, especially on the lexical level, with regard to the words involved. The first problem is posed by the scientific terms themselves, terms which by virtue of being restricted to scientific use alone are totally unknown to the untrained Italian translator. The second problem is posed by the frequent use of the terms of Latin origin. The third problem is created by words which constitute a part of the normal, everyday vocabulary and the scientific vocabulary, but acquire a specialized meaning in the latter case. The fourth problem is created by terms with an everyday meaning which is not obviously wrong in the scientific context, yet which signals some kind of specificity that only the scientific reader will be able to detect. In some of the cases, the differences between everyday language and scientific language are so subtle that they can escape the eyes of the translator, but even these minor deviations can compromise the reliability of the translated text in the eyes of the scientific reader.

To a large extent, these problems can be successfully solved if the Italian translator broadens his or her grasp over the subject matter, constantly updates his or her knowledge by accessing the available technical dictionaries and data-banks, refers to the specialists in both the source and target languages, and, if possible, even consults the author of the source text. Organizations like European Commission maintain a database of universally agreed translations of technical expressions to aid translators.

Conceptual Problems

Conceptual problems often arise because of the translator’s ignorance of significant background information which may not be explicitly stated in the source text. Familiarity with certain experiments and techniques that are unknown to the translator may be taken for granted in the source paper. For the Italian translator, working without first-hand knowledge of the subject, such ignorance will lead to guessing, confusion and incorrect translation.

Unfamiliarity with the subject matter frequently leads to syntactical errors in scientific and technical Italian translation. Syntactical errors in their turn destroy the meaning in the target text. Unfamiliarity with the subject matter can also distort the logic in the target text. This happens if the translator is unable to trace the relations between the various concepts enumerated in the scientific argument, and subsequently follow the scientific argument as it develops. In chemistry, the Italian translator must pay particular attention so that he does not confuse the names of similar sounding chemicals. it is impossible to extricate oneself from such an impasse through mere reference work. The translator must take more diligent initiatives, such as studying the subject matter and consulting with experts in the field or even the author of the original text. Scientific and technical Italian translation, unlike translation in other genres, is especially tied up with the question of responsibility. Errors in translating scientific and technical texts will lead to much more than loss of meaning.

In scientific and technical Italian translation, the translator must always resist the urge to improve upon the text stylistically. But that does not imply that he replicates even the grammatical errors and the syntactical discrepancies of the source text, especially if it compromises the information being communicated. While in literary texts, changing the form of a word through affixation is a feature of style, in scientific and technical texts the specific meaning of the word is of paramount importance. Technical texts often make use of mathematical symbols which need simply to be transcribed in the target language. The translator must ensure that the symbols signifies the same concept in both the source and target languages. For example, in Italian numbers, it is the rule to use the comma where the English use the decimal point.

The fact that English and Italian scientific and technical texts share certain stylistic characteristics simplifies the task of scientific and technical Italian translation. Scientific and technical language in both English and Italian texts is generally factual and passive and tends to concentrate on purposes, explanations and descriptions of experiments. Connectors such as “consequently,” “hence” and “thus” are extensively used, as are expressions to convey the principle of cause and effect and verbs to signify methods and processes. The Italian translator embarking on scientific and technical Italian translation will succeed in his task by aiming towards accuracy and upholding the features of his genre.

Conceptual problems often arise because of the translator’s ignorance of significant background information which may not be explicitly stated in the source text. Familiarity with certain experiments and techniques that are unknown to the translator may be taken for granted in the source paper. For the Italian translator, working without first-hand knowledge of the subject, such ignorance will lead to guessing, confusion and incorrect translation.

Unfamiliarity with the subject matter frequently leads to syntactical errors in scientific and technical Italian translation. Syntactical errors in their turn destroy the meaning in the target text. Unfamiliarity with the subject matter can also distort the logic in the target text. This happens if the translator is unable to trace the relations between the various concepts enumerated in the scientific argument, and subsequently follow the scientific argument as it develops. In chemistry, the Italian translator must pay particular attention so that he does not confuse the names of similar sounding chemicals. it is impossible to extricate oneself from such an impasse through mere reference work. The translator must take more diligent initiatives, such as studying the subject matter and consulting with experts in the field or even the author of the original text. Scientific and technical Italian translation, unlike translation in other genres, is especially tied up with the question of responsibility. Errors in translating scientific and technical texts will lead to much more than loss of meaning.

In scientific and technical Italian translation, the translator must always resist the urge to improve upon the text stylistically. But that does not imply that he replicates even the grammatical errors and the syntactical discrepancies of the source text, especially if it compromises the information being communicated. While in literary texts, changing the form of a word through affixation is a feature of style, in scientific and technical texts the specific meaning of the word is of paramount importance. Technical texts often make use of mathematical symbols which need simply to be transcribed in the target language. The translator must ensure that the symbols signifies the same concept in both the source and target languages. For example, in Italian numbers, it is the rule to use the comma where the English use the decimal point.

The fact that English and Italian scientific and technical texts share certain stylistic characteristics simplifies the task of scientific and technical Italian translation. Scientific and technical language in both English and Italian texts is generally factual and passive and tends to concentrate on purposes, explanations and descriptions of experiments. Connectors such as “consequently,” “hence” and “thus” are extensively used, as are expressions to convey the principle of cause and effect and verbs to signify methods and processes. The Italian translator embarking on scientific and technical Italian translation will succeed in his task by aiming towards accuracy and upholding the features of his genre.






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