Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

Optimizing Business Translation Skills in Higher Education ESP

Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

Optimizing Business Translation Skills in Higher Education ESP

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This paper presents a pedagogical technique in which both linguistic and business content is used to help undergraduate and graduate students improve their understanding of and skills in the proper use of language within a business context. This technique also requires that students be exposed not only to the most commonly used business English words, but also to the various ways in which they typically combine to form natural-sounding and predictable business collocations. The paper concludes that the ability to fully understand and use selected specialized terminology in professional business translations largely depends on a clear understanding of internal business processes for which strong working knowledge of business matters and related experience are of paramount importance.

Keywords: business communication; Business English; ESP; business collocation; business translation

1. Introduction

Business translation covers a wide variety of documents used in the business world such as contracts/agreements, business correspondence, company annual reports/financial statements, official/legal documents, advertising/marketing materials, as well as various academic texts associated to the field of Economics. Accurate translation of all these documents is crucial in the business world. Relying exclusively on a fully automated machine translation system will cause, more often than not, ambiguities and misunderstandings that will very likely lead to considerable loss of time and money in the long run. The potential business implications of inaccurate or wrong translations may be complex and sometimes farreaching with dire consequences for the business and its owners. Computers may indeed be able to translate simple sentences, but they will never be able to cover the complexities within business texts. That is why, nowadays, the need for business translation is increasing rapidly. Multinational organizations make frequent use of translation services, while others have their own translation staff.

It is common knowledge that literal, word for word translation is far from being efficient. Professional translators/interpreters use common sense and good judgement in determining how to deliver the genuine context, meaning and style of the message to the language that the target reader/person understands. Striking a balance between fidelity to the source text and readability in the target language requires carefully honed skills and long practice.

In order to be able to carry out an adequate and reliable translation of a business text, several abilities beyond language competence will combine. It is therefore a complex task which entails ongoing improvement of translation skills. Being able to read, speak and write in a foreign language does not in any way guarantee the accuracy of the translated business text, nor does it give anyone a licence to undertake business translation work.

That is why university-level training should be adapted to and consistent with the increasingly specialised demands faced by future translators. It is absolutely necessary to link professional practice with translation training in a business-oriented setting. Attention should be given both to product oriented translations (text focused translation description) and function oriented translations, so that future graduates will be able to cope with different business related activities.

2. Specific characteristics of business communication

The language of business is used to achieve an end, and its successful use is seen in terms of a successful outcome to the business transaction or event. Business people do a variety of things with language; they socialize, compete, persuade, compromise, interview, analyse, negotiate, market, advertise, telephone etc. The communication is done in a specific business context and for business aims and these two aspects are conducive to a highly context-dependent communication. …

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