17 June 2014

When scientific terms are misused

Ten scientific ideas that scientists wish you would stop misusing (my slightly modified version of the title) by Annalee Newitz gives short well-thought-out explanations of the following terms: proof, theory, quantum uncertainty (and quantum weirdness), learned (vs. inate), natural (and organic), gene, statistically significant, survival of the fittest, geologic timescales, and organic.
(Aside: Translators might have preferred that the article carry the title: Ten scientific terms and expressions that scientists wish you would stop misusing.)
At first guess, I think I guess that most of these terms have direct equivalents in western European languages and most of those equivalents are misused in much the same way.

At first guess, I think I can also say that in many types of translations any such misuse in the original can be faithfully represented by the corresponding misuse in the target language.

The big challenge is, of course, when the translator has a mandate to make the author of the original look better in the target language than in the original. In such cases, the translator needs to consult a site like this one, then decide on better words and terms.

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