22 June 2017

Transcreating technical journalism, conference presentation

On Saturday 17 June, I at spoke at the TransLisboa 2017 conference organised by Aptrad. My presentation was entitled 
Transcreating technical journalism.

The Word and PowerPoint files that I used in my talk area available on request.

13 June 2017

Multiple qualifiers

Despite the fact that long strings of qualifiers are frowned upon by style guides, they are widely used, especially in technical writing and journalism for the simple reason that they offer a handy solution to a frequent problem, namely the clear, extended, multi-dimensional qualification of technical terms.

The challenges raised by how to order qualifiers probably explains why OSASCOMP: Applied analysis is by far the most frequently consulted post on this blog.

Many who have blogged, posted and tweeted on this, including me (see OSASCOMP in the news and OSASCOMP in the news), have failed to stress sufficiently that OSASCOMP only applies to unpunctuated strings of adjectives.

In Hysteria over hyphens, Johnson points out:
English is a Germanic language that allows for many different kinds of compounds, including those made from two adjectives (“blue-green”), two nouns (“kitchen sink”), adjective-noun (“darkroom”), noun-adjective (“slate-blue”) and so on. But which ones should be written separately, which hyphenated and which closed up?
To this I would add "And in what order should they be arranged where multiple qualifiers with different grammatical categories occur in combination?"

Johnson adds (my bold):
A bestselling guide to punctuation was subtitled “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation”. Punctuation pros sniggered. The Economist, like most other publications, would require a hyphen (“Zero-Tolerance”) here.
This hyphen is starkly different from the one in “arch-rival”. It has a critical grammatical function, not just a stylistic one. It tells the readers that several words are to be taken together as a single modifier. You can write “we have zero tolerance for bad punctuation,” but when “zero tolerance” is used to modify a noun, it acts a bit like an adjective. It does not become an adjective, as many people think. But taken together, as a modifier, “zero-tolerance” functions like a single word; hence the hyphen.
Reading means parsing grammar on the fly, a tricky task requiring concentration. Everything that helps with that does a favour to the reader. Strings of words with no punctuation can often be parsed in several ways. The hyphen eliminates one possibility. This not only speeds up comprehension, but in some (rare) cases, is crucial for avoiding ambiguity.
I have written repeatedly on OSASCOMP and multiple qualifiers, and will no doubt come back to the topic again and again, given that many challenges remain. Still, Hysteria over hyphens definitely takes us a few steps forward.

A helping hand from Johnson

Following the publication of Hysteria over hyphens by the incomparable Johnson, I posted this comment:
As a French-to-English translator freelancing for the French naval defence industry, I have long been bothered by the ambiguity of terms using "amphibious assault" as a qualifier. For some, "amphibious assault ship" presumably conjures up the comical image of a ship moving up a beach and across the dunes ... For the first time, Johnson has made clear the reason for the ambiguity and the solution. So, despite the fact that I have never seen "amphibious-assault" as a hyphenated qualifier in any naval document that has come my way, I have resolved, from today, to adopt it. Many thanks.
I then updated my translation archives by replacing the qualifier "amphibious assault" by "amphibious-assault" to help me remember today's resolution.

While the point of punctuation is relatively minor, I allowed myself to be misled by naval journalists and writers that I usually consider worthy of emulation (cf. Translation by emulation, take #1). It took me decades to discover my mistake, but at least I found it. Thank you, once again, Johnson!

06 April 2017

Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #5

French:  Triton : Le nouveau navire du DRASSM
English: H2X delivers archaeological research boat

The original focuses on the organisation (DRASSM), its activities and its vessels.
The English focuses on the organisation's activities and the types of vessels it operates while highlighting the boatbuilder's openness to the client's highly specialised needs.

Transcreation: Different readership, different approach.

I will be discussing how and why I do all this at the following conference in Lisbon on 17 June.

Associação Profissional e Universidade, juntas pela tradução!
A APTRAD vai organizar em parceria com a FCSH/NOVA de Lisboa (obrigada David William Hardisty) um evento de tradução para os seus associados, alunos de tradução e não só!. Será um evento, de partilha de experiências e conhecimentos, de profissionais para profissionais (e alunos), limitado a um número máximo de participantes.
O que significa isto?
Significa que os oradores deste evento serão os associados da Aptrad, os professores, os alunos e todos os profissionais que estejam disponíveis para fazer parte do painel de oradores do evento.
Querem participar? O desafio está lançado. Inscrevam-se como oradores enviando para o email: formacao@aptrad.pt a vossa proposta (título e pequena descrição da sessão a apresentar).
Local: Lisboa FCSH/NOVA
Data: 17 Junho 2017 das 09.00 às 17.00
Tema: "Como reforçar a importância do tradutor humano na indústria da tradução?"
Vamos fazer deste um evento inesquecível!

M&M Maritime News, April issue

The April issue of Mer et Marine's monthly Maritime News is now online. Subscribers received the following email version.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 edition

Lacroix: In the confidential world of decoys

They are often considered the final bastion against missiles. Since the appearance of this kind of weapon in naval combat nearly 50 years ago, decoys have evolved in keeping pace with the ever-increasing sophistication of missile technology by deploying new tactics to...

DCNS tests augmented reality

French naval shipbuilder DCNS is testing the benefits of augmented reality for warship design, construction and maintenance.Augmented reality offers a real-time view of the user’s surroundings enhanced with computer-generated information. The technology has now advanced...

Gowind, from concept to reality

The first DCNS-designed and -built Gowind 2500 corvette recently completed its first sea trials, a big step towards ‘sea-proven’ status.On Friday 17 March, the first Gowind 2500 corvette designed by French naval shipbuilder DCNS and built at the group’s Lorient yard...

Brittany Ferries: now with French scrubbers

To ensure compliance with the latest standards, six Brittany Ferries’ vessels have been fitted with scrubbers, three of them designed and produced in France.Sulphur oxides (SOx) in a ship’s exhaust gases can be removed by cleaning systems commonly referred to as...

Sirius, a multi-purpose service vessel for Belgium

French shipbuilder Socarenam has delivered a multi-role service vessel to Belgian group DAB Vloot for a range of harbour and coastal duties.Buoy laying, hydrographic surveys, pilot transfers, assistance to vessels in distress, firefighting and more. The Sirius is a truly...

H2X delivers archaeological research boat

The Triton is a special-purpose boat built by H2X for a French organisation specialising in underwater archaeology.In December 2016, DRASSM* took delivery of the Triton, its latest archaeological research vessel. In addition to its overall responsibility for France’s...
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Mer et Marine - SAS Le Télégramme
7 voie d'accès au Port
BP 67243 - 29672 Morlaix Cedex - FRANCE
Groupe Le Télégramme
Please note that the article on Etienne Lacroix was produced by the company.

Please note also that I have informed the CMF that their message "Towards the Blue Growth" desperately needs to be first withdrawn, then rewritten by an English-speaking specialist.
A reasonable retranslation back into French might read:
Vers l'excroissance bleue.

The other articles were translated and adapted, or transcreated, by me.
Comments and feedback welcome.

16 March 2017

Oxford comma court case

Language circles are buzzing with articles and comments on a recent court case in the USA that was decided on the basis of punctuation and more specifically the use of the so-called Oxford comma. See, for example, An Oxford comma changed this court case by AJ Willingham, CNN (updated 16 March 2017) or
Oxford comma helps drivers win dispute about overtime pay
by Elena Cresci.

One of my high school English teachers, a Welshman named Jones would you believe, often said that this was bound to happen one day. So, Mr Jones, it looks like that day has come.

What I found astounding is that many Americans who write about this and similar topics seek categorical black & white rules. A J Willingham ends her article saying:
(All of you Oxford comma purists out there, go ahead and gloat. We'll have you know CNN adheres by AP Style, which does not include the mark.)
So the Chicago Style Manual says use it, always, while AP Style "does not use the mark".

I prefer to do what Mr Jones used to do, namely use it when you, or your readers, need it and don't when you don't. What's the matter with old-fashioned logic and hard thinking?

Elena Cresci's article includes the following.
The Guardian style guide has the following to say about Oxford commas: a comma before the final “and” in lists: straightforward ones (he ate ham, eggs and chips) do not need one, but sometimes it can help the reader (he ate cereal, kippers, bacon, eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea).
Sometimes it is essential: compare
I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis, and J K Rowling.
I dedicate this book to my parents, Martin Amis and J K Rowling.
Precisely the approach I recommend and try to use.

25 April 2017

Under the heading The ambiguous Oxford comma, Sentence first -- an Irishman's blog about the English language -- also prefers analysis to dogma.

07 March 2017

Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #4

French: Un projet de ferry à hydrogène pour les îles du Ponant
English: Nøé: Barillec’s zero emissions vessel

The original focuses on the technology and the ferry service that will use it.
The English focuses on the companies and the aim of the new technology.

Transcreation: Different readership, different approach.

06 March 2017

Nouvelle édition anglaise de Mer et Marine

Nouvelle édition anglaise de Mer et Marine

La sixième édition de notre newsletter mensuelle en anglais sera diffusée aujourd'hui à la mi-journée. Cette nouvelle parution en ligne traite de sujets liés à l'économie maritime française et internationale, avec notamment un reportage à Saint-Nazaire pour faire le point sur la montée en puissance de STX France dans le domaine des énergies marines.

Distribuée à plusieurs milliers de destinataires anglophones dans le monde entier, la newsletter en anglais est réalisée par la rédaction de Mer et Marine et traduite par une équipe de traducteurs spécialisés dans le secteur maritime. Les articles de l'ensemble des newsletters parues se trouvent sur le site anglophone de Mer et Marine et sont consultables gratuitement.


02 March 2017

Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #3

Compare the transcreated version
Retired racing cat to run on wind, sunshine and hydrogen
with the original
Energy Observer: Un ancien catamaran de course reconverti à l'hydrogène

The passage
À bord du labo-navire, il s'agit de coupler plusieurs énergies : trois sortes de panneaux solaires, répartis sur 130 m² de surface, deux éoliennes à axe vertical, une aile de traction intelligente et deux moteurs électriques réversibles permettent de produire l'hydrogène à bord et, mieux encore, de le stocker.
was transcreated (i.e. translated and re-written) to read
The challenge is to combine multiple energy sources, including three types of solar panels covering 130sq.m, two vertical-axis wind turbines, a smart traction kite, two reversible electric motors and, instead of batteries, hydrogen stored in high-pressure tanks. When sufficient electricity is available, it will be used to produce hydrogen from seawater by electrolysis. When there is no sun or wind, stored hydrogen will be converted back into electricity by fuel cells.
Because the original, first published by Le Télégramme, was written for a general newspaper readership whereas the Mer et Marine monthly newsletter in English targets specialist readers working in the marine/maritime/naval industries who are interested in French innovations.

As the translator (alias transcreator), I felt that the English version's specialist readership deserved some additional technical information. To save them the trouble of Googling for this additional information, I did the work for them then condensed my findings as shown above.

There is lots of confusion out there in the blogosphere and the language service industry about what transcreation means. The examples given here are intended to document and explain my approach to the question in one highly specific work situation. I'd be happy to hear what you think.

20 January 2017

Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #2

Example from
Le nouveau Figaro à foils sera construit dans une usine dédiée à Nantes
New Bénéteau racing monohull with foils.

To understand the approach taken to the adaptation of this article, it helps to know that the original was first published by Le Télégramme. The newspaper's online tagline is: 
Actualité et infos en direct et en continu sur Brest, Lannion, Lorient, Quimper, Rennes, Saint-Brieuc, Saint-Malo, Vannes et les autres communes de Bretagne.
The French journalist was writing for a local audience that follows maritime and yachting news closely and is assumped to be familiar with the relevant technical jargon.
This contrasts with the Mer et Marine monthly newsletter in English which targets L1* and L2* readers of English working in the marine/maritime/naval industries interested in French innovations.
Hence the need for some periphrases in English to explain technical terms that readers of the French version were assumed not to need.

First, the headline

Le nouveau Figaro à foils sera construit dans une usine dédiée à Nantes

The French headline highlights the type of boat and where it will be built, which is perfectly logical given Le Télégramme's focus.
The English version focuses on the manufacturer's name and the innovation.

Next the introduction

[FRA] Il y avait foule, samedi 3 décembre, sur la grande scène du Nautic, à Paris, pour la présentation du Figaro 3. Depuis le temps qu'on l'attend ce nouveau monotype
[ENG] The new Figaro Bénéteau 3 made a big impression at the Nautic boatshow.
The mockup presented at the Nautic boatshow in Paris on Saturday 3 December attracted a big crowd. The new ‘one-design’ — a yacht built to a standard design for one-design racing, in this case the Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro event — was on display, after what many felt was a long wait.

* L1: mother-tongue
* L2: second-language

19 January 2017

Transcreation, examples from an online newsletter, #1

On 29 May 2015, under the heading Transcreation, I wrote:
What is transcreation?
It's about adapting a client's document in the source language to a specific communication challenge in a target language. Given that the audiences are different, the aims will differ. The process typically combines high-quality translation with new content as appropriate. Passages of little or no interest to the target audience may be deleted. Transcreation enables clients to convey their messages in a way that is relevant and engaging.
In this post I will concentrate on one or two aspects of my approach to the transcreation of articles selected from the Mer et Marine daily news page in French for adaptation into English and publication in the Mer et Marine monthly newsletter in English.

But first I need to explain that much of what is involved in the process of transcreation is based on
(a) explicit information or reasonable assumptions concerning the aims of the original and the target readership, and (b) similar explicit information or reasonable assumptions concerning the aims of the English-language version and the target readership.

The Mer et Marine daily aims are summarised in their presentation statement:
Mer et marine, toute l’actualité maritime.
Media leader de l’actualité maritime : construction navale, défense, shipping, ports, offshore…
which I have rendered as:
Maritime news from France and around the world :  shipbuilding, naval defence, shipping, ports, offshore and more. 

Examples from Amiral Prazuck : « Notre défense commence au large »

Additional information in EN because target readership know less about the subject than Admiral Prazuck
[FRA] La régénération de nos unités qui sont extrêmement sollicitées, bien au-delà des contrats opérationnels définis dans le Livre Blanc.
[ENG] Assets in the highest demand will be refurbished beyond the requirements of the operational contracts listed in the government’s white paper on defence and national security (Livre blanc sur la défense et la sécurité nationale).
[FRA] Pouvez-vous dresser un premier bilan du déménagement de l’état-major à Balard ?
[ENG] Could you also give us a brief report on the move to the Hexagone Balard, the Ministry of Defence’s new joint headquarters?
[FRA] Nous avons quitté une adresse prestigieuse qui nous a hébergés pendant 226 ans à l’Hôtel de la Marine.
[ENG] In July 2015, the naval high command moved out of the Hôtel de la Marine, the imposing classical building overlooking the Place de la Concorde that housed the Navy headquarters for 226 years.
[FRA] Les marins y ont gagné un confort de travail indiscutable.
[ENG] Working conditions in the new HQ, on the southern edge of central Paris, are a huge improvement.
Odd, off-the-cuff term replaced by standard equivalent
[FRA] Enfin leur radar-plaques ouvre de nouvelles perspectives, notamment pour les luttes anti-aérienne et anti-missile.
[ENG] The FTI’s planar array radar will also open up new perspectives, particularly for anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare.
(The above table is a formatting experiment. My procedure involved several steps. 1) Generate bitext using Terminotix's AlighFactoryLight. 2) Edit bitext using AFL alignment editor. 3) Add explanatory notes in blank cells using AFL alignment editor. 4) Open bitext using browser. 5) Copy & paste browser page into Blogger page. 6) Add character attributes (bold, ital, highlighting) as necessary. 7) Publish.

Transcreating technical journalism, conference presentation

On Saturday 17 June, I at spoke at the TransLisboa 2017 conference organised by Aptrad . My presentation was entitled  Transcreating techn...