03 January 2019

Lexicon backstory: How ... gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

The ATA has posted an article I submitted on the Science and Technology Division's blog.
The article, dated 3 January 2019, is entitled A Lexicon Backstory and subtitled How transcreating promotional technical journalism gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

In it, I explain how my French-English Lexicon of Naval Technology -- which is now freely downloadable -- came into being.

10 November 2018


Here is an exchange of Facebook messages and emails with Daniel Heuman, CEO & Founder of Intelligent Editing Ltd.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/intelligentedit
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PerfectItSoftware

I posted my first impression using the contact link:
I just tested PerfectIt and sent them some feedback. It reads:
This is not a request for support, just feedback. I tested your app and found it to be a complete waste of time. It appears to be totally incapable of distinguishing between simple successions of words like "armour plated" in "the ship is armour plated" and qualifiers like "armour-plated" in "an armour-plated ship". Utterly useless. You don't appear to have worked out the difference between grammar and consistency.
PerfectIt CEO Daniel Heuman responded promptly saying:
Thanks for looking at PerfectIt. I'm sorry it's not for you.

On that error, our philosophy is that human beings make the best decisions about grammar and language, and they always will. So the software doesn't try to check grammar. Instead, it shows possible errors and leaves everything up to the user. So you're absolutely right. It won't understand the difference between "armour-plated" and "armour plated" in that context. However, it has an onscreen warning about adjectival compounds so that users know to look out for it. The only alternative would be to have the software check it. Would you really trust a machine to understand differences in grammar and language?
As I say, I'm sorry we couldn't win your business. It sounds like you have a deep understanding of grammar, so I would have hoped that you'd really like the philosophy behind the program. We're always working to reduce the false positives it shows, so I hope you'll consider us again in a few years.
Best wishes,
I followed up with:
For my first test, I had PerfectIt scan a highly technical text of 30,500 words (sample articles can be viewed here) containing 845 hyphens, one of which turned out to be misplaced. PerfectIt queried every single one of these plus many hundred of word strings that were not adjectival compounds. Tedious, to say the least. Your excellent reply has at least given me the urge to test other aspects. Let me add, however, that where technical writers and translators are concerned, software that pretends to check hyphen but cannot distinguish between adjectival compounds and similar strings of words in other contexts simply fails to make the cut. If I have helped you to clarify this for others that might be useful. One more point, when viewing your site and installing the software I didn't see any indication as to which languages PerfectIt can analyse.
Then with:
Thanks again for your prompt reply via Facebook.
I will shortly place our exchanges on my blog.
I have now corrected my inconsistent use of ‘commandos’ and 'commandoes', also ‘Scorpène’ and ‘Scorpene’, though I notice that the app wasn't able to distinguish between the singular and plural forms of this proper noun (the name of a French submarine that the manufacturer changed half way through this project in response to feedback from me which I then failed to double-check before delivering my document).

I have now been through the other checks that PerfectIt runs and, overall, was rather impressed. (see result below) It is also closer to meeting my needs than Antidote which was a huge disappointment to me despite the claims of many of my colleagues. Many of the PerfectIt checks are both thorough and well thought out even if they don't match the needs of a technical writer or translator drafting texts for specialist readerships where acronyms are used in different ways from the guidelines applicable to those writing for lay readers.
Conclusion: PerfectIt looks like a very useful tool for most writers and translators working in/into English, despite some serious limitations in the case of technical writers and into-English translators drafting for specialist readerships where acronyms are used differently from the guidelines applicable to those writing for lay readers.

PerfectIt offers one feature that Antidote does not, namely a 30-day money-back guarantee. This plus PerfectIt's free, full-scale 14-day trial are significant advantages.

25 October 2018

A French-English Glossary of Naval Technology

Below you will find version 15d of my French-English Glossary of Naval Technology dated October 2018.

This glossary or lexicon is intended for French-to-English translators and writers specialising in technical journalism. The layout is an attempt to deal with a terminological challenge specific to journalism, whether technical or general, namely the benefits of direct access to multiple designations (aka synonyms) avoid repetition for stylistic reasons.

The glossary began as a simple Word document about 20 years ago and has simply grown and grown. To accommodate the amount of information it contains, I have adopted a custom page format (36cm wide by 25cm high). The idea is not to print it, but to use it on your computer display.

Until yesterday, the glossary was sold via Lulu and Lulu redistributors. From today, it is offered free of charge.

Download it here. File size: >4M.

Send comments and feedback via this blog or to the email address in the file.

08 August 2018

Fruitful exchange

A fruitful exchange of tweets:


I usually use two re-readers.


Replying to  
Were you thinking he just proofread his work on two different tablets or the two tablets have two different style and editing software packages? Curious minds want to know.
My last to explain why I use 're-reader'. But I see that this is not as clear as 'reviser' even if my meaning is more restrictive in that I'm the senior asking usually younger translators to pick up on certain aspects while leaving my 'style' intact. Clearer?

21 June 2018

A mandate to transcreate

I transcreate a regular technical journalism publication from French into English. The declared aim of this publication is to promote specific France-based industries. The source articles give people who read French access to in-depth news and analysis on companies, projects, products and services in the target sectors. For the English version, the editorial team selects articles of potential interest to a wider technical audience throughout Europe.

It is my job to translate while adapting the English-language content to suit the new target audience and emphasizing the positive, particularly with regard to French successes in tailoring products and services to client needs.

Where I feel a passage is likely to be of little or no interest to the target readership, I shorten or delete it. In the email accompanying my draft I explain my editorial decisions. To my mind, this is where transcreation differs from 'translation' in the normal sense.

Recently, I transcreated an article based on an interview with the CEO of an advanced technology company. The interviewee discussed recent news and the state of progress of his company's main technology among other issues of interest.

At one point, the interviewee explained why he thought the French government should subsidise his company's technology until it became cost-competitive with other technologies in the same general area.

I suggested to my client that this passage would probably have a distinctly negative impact on a large proportion of the target readership of the English version. Indeed, I felt that the passage was at odds with the declared aim of my client's publication. Because the passage was relatively long, I translated it, but suggested to the client that we delete it. After reviewing my version of the article, my client agreed with my line of argument and the passage was duly deleted.

While this is an extreme case, I think it illustrates how useful transcreation can be to a client and how much success hinges on close collaboration between transcreator and client.

25 May 2018

My public portfolio

My public portfolio includes:
Feedback on any of these posts is more than welcome.

Night jasmine is an example of maritime literature, Je vais passer pour un vieux con is an example of light journalistic humour, for want of a better description, and all the other posts are transcreations, or translation/adaptations, of technical journalism from French to English.

Add a page to a public portfolio

Prospecting for new clients for your translation/transcreation services? One technique is to identify a company, product or service that you find interesting, technically within your scope and worthy of better promotion in your target language.

Here's an example of how to add a page to your public portfolio.

Here is the link to the original (in French) concerning a product that I find fascinating. The company is called SBS Interactive, the product is called Vis-On and the page I have chosen to translate and adapt is headed VIS-On : visualiser le tel que construit.

Here is my version:
SourceTranslated and adapted by Steve Dyson.


VIS-On: “As built” visualisation

8 February 2018

Ship inspections can be difficult to organise, first because most vessels are seldom accessible and second because inspections take time. They are nevertheless essential for training, to plan and prepare maintenance and other works and to show vessels to potential clients.
SBS Interactive developed the VIS-On® enhanced visualisation system to make ships directly accessible for online inspection and interaction.
SBS Interactive applications like VIS-On® save users time and money.


·  Remotely inspect ships and shipboard spaces using enhanced visualisation.
·  Train personnel to follow standard procedures.
·  Plan maintenance procedures and add tasks as necessary.
·  Do maintenance while compiling user-friendly manuals.
·  Prepare quotes by giving subcontractors direct remote access to relevant work spaces.
·  Improve safety by raising risk awareness and preparing for emergencies.
·  Promote products and know-how.
·  Compile visual inventories.

See equipment and spaces “as built”

Use VIS-On® enhanced visualisation software to prepare, document and share secure virtual ship inspections. VIS-On® offers far more than internet-based virtual tours developed for the general public. The package is designed for industrial use starting with secure immersive inspection tours by in-house teams or third parties.


Video features include:
·  360° panoramic photos taken inside shipboard spaces
·  360° laser scans to take measurements
·  2D panoramic views of outdoor and deck areas
·  aerial views recorded by drones
·  CAD/CAM drawings, views and graphics complete with attachments for virtual navigation.

Main functions

Use VIS-On® to:
·  create immersive virtual tours of ships (360° and 2D views, drawings, and laser measurement)
·  attach files (pdfs, photos, videos, Word® documents) to 360° views
·  interact with computer-aided maintenance management (CAMM) and electronic document management (EDM) packages
·  create inspection tours focusing on training, maintenance, safety, etc.
·  share tours with authorised third parties
·  remotely access tours via internet, intranet or offline
·  search, i.e. enter keywords to find items of equipment, spaces and attachments
·  improve teamwork (add tasks, tests, inspections, etc. as necessary)
·  measure distances to within a cm
·  compile inventories using 360° photos taken before, during and after maintenance
·  store attachments in a single safe location.


  1. Autre possibilitĂ© pour le titre: VIS -On: See it “as built” 
  2. Orthographe et ponctuation (surtout des listes) selon mes prĂ©fĂ©rences personnelles. Bien entendu, d’autres prĂ©fĂ©rences sont possibles.
  3. Ă€ supposer que SBS utilise « virtualisation enrichie » parce que c’est n’est pas la mĂŞme chose que la « rĂ©alitĂ© virtuelle », j’ai traduit par « enhanced visualisation » plutĂ´t que « virtual reality ». 
  4. Dans "Maintenir en prĂ©parant l’intervention et en ajoutant des tâches", l'expression "en ajoutant des tâches" ne me semble pas très clair. Pourrait-on clarifier ou donner un exemple? 
  5. CAMM & EDM: Ă  confirmer. 
  6. ‘Tasks’, ou bien ‘jobs’ ? Pourrait-on clarifier ou donner un exemple?

Lexicon backstory: How ... gave rise to a different type of Fr-En lexicon

The ATA has posted an article I submitted on the Science and Technology Division's blog . The article, dated 3 January 2019, is entitle...