Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Translating Technical Terms into Arabic: Microsoft Terminology Collection (English-Arabic) as an Example

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Translating Technical Terms into Arabic: Microsoft Terminology Collection (English-Arabic) as an Example

Article excerpt

Abstract: The main aim of this paper is to explore the techniques used in translating English technical terms into Arabic in the Microsoft Terminology Collection (MTC) (English-Arabic) as an example of comprehensive multilingual resources of technical terminology on the Web. MTC is a well-known online IT-glossary available on the Microsoft Language Portal in over ninety languages. It provides users with the opportunity to perform quick searches between different languages and to download files that integrate with Microsoft products and computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. Some examples of MTC terms in Arabic are examined by the researcher to identify the kinds of translation strategies that MTC follows in order to translate technical terms into Arabic as well as the appropriateness of these strategies to their translation situations through comparison of different translations for the same SL term. The analysis of selected examples from MTC shows that in the Arabic translations of technical terms, MTC uses translation, Arabicisation, and Arabic-expanding techniques inconsistently, either in providing more than one translation for a standard technical term within the same translation situation or in using different translation strategies for similar technical terms in similar translation situations. Results show that it is more appropriate to use translation and/or Arabic-expanding techniques (mainly derivation and compounding) with technical terms derived from common linguistic roots in the source language (SL) to preserve the integrity and authenticity of Arabic as a target language (TL) at a time of a marked increase in the number of SL technical terms, while methods of Arabicisation should only be used with SL proper nouns or any word derived from them to solve problems of non-equivalence at word level between Arabic and English.

Keywords: technical translation, Arabicisation, Arabic-expanding techniques, Microsoft Terminology Collection (MTC)

1. Introduction

An examination of the literature on technical translation reveals two major fallacies about this form of translation. One fallacy about technical translation has to do with the definition of the term itself. Defined by Wright & Wright (1993), "[t]echnical translation encompasses the translation of special language texts, i.e., texts written using Languages for Special Purposes (LSP). As such, technical translation (and "technical terminology" as well) includes not only the translation of texts in engineering or medicine, but also such disciplines as economics, psychology and law" (p. 1). Similar to Wright & Wright's definition of technical translation, Ghazala (1995) defines technical translation as, "[t]he translation of scientific and technical terms of all kinds: medical, physical, chemical, mathematical, mechanical, technological, biological, agricultural, computer and other terms of the various branches of science" (p. 156). According to Byrne (2006), such definitions make no distinction between specialised and technical translation because "[i]n reality, 'technical' means precisely that, something to do with technology and technological texts (...) Simply because a field or subject area has unique or specialised terminology does not make it technical" (p. 3). In this sense, Schubert (2010) points out that "[i]n this term, the word 'technical' refers to the content of the documents, not to the tools used" (p. 350). The problem lies, as Schubert maintains, in the semantic ambiguity of the English adjective technical, "[t]he term can relate to content either from technology and engineering or from any specialized domain" (p. 350). Thus, in the broader sense, technical translation is synonymous to specialised translation. In the narrower sense, "technical translation is one part of specialised translation" (Newmark, 1988, p. 151).

Another fallacy about technical translation has to do with the discussion of scientific and technical translation as one and the same thing. …

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