07 January 2014

What makes TJ and its translation so special?

So what is it that makes technical journalism and its translation so special?

I've considered some aspects since starting this blog, but today I have, I think, a more concise and insightful take on the issue.

Hopefully, most technical journalists and their translators have read at least the odd article on terminology theory and specialised documents on core terminology in one or more of the technical fields of interest. Equally hopefully, they have also read or studied journalism proper or a related subject.

Formal terminologies are developed first and foremost to help professional and technical writers to introduce and use technical terminology correctly and consistently. In many professional and technical writing contexts this often implies avoiding or eliminating all non-standard terminology. Naturally, technical journalists and their translators need to be familiar with any formal terminology relevant to the subject at hand, whether in the form of international or national standards, recommended and corporate terminologies and glossaries, and so forth.

Technical journalists and their translators are, however, in the business of writing professional technical articles and, in most languages and contexts this means that they must avoid repeating terms (and more particularly multi-word terms) (not to mention other stylistic devices).

To summarise, technical journalists and their translators juggle the constant tension between formal, correct terminology and non-repetition, one of the accepted norms of journalism. Those that have come to TJ from technical writing or an engineering or science background may err on the side of excessively formal terminology, those that come from conventional journalism and non-technical backgrounds may err pay insufficient attention to the same.

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