By Susanna Weerth

On Thursday, October 27, at 6:15 p.m. members of ATA’s Sci-Tech division gathered in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel Copley Place to walk to an Indian restaurant, Kashmir, on Newbury Street. Alicja Yarborough, who had organized this event, awaited us there for our annual division dinner. It was a short walk from the hotel past Boston's brownstone houses in cold rainy weather. We were happy to be welcomed by Alicja at the restaurant, which had such a pleasant atmosphere. The 34 members attending were seated at tables reserved for our division in a private space.


Before the first appetizer arrived, we had some time to get to know the fellow Sci-Tech Division members at our table. As a relative new comer to translation and interpretation, I was happy to start a conversation with the three members sharing my table. We talked about our specialties, language pairs and direction, and our experience with science, technical and medical translations, as well as our experiences at this year’s conference. As it turned out, two members at my table shared my language pair, and I was pleased to hear their advice.

Appetizers arrived at the tables in bowls and copper dishes: "Vegetable Pakorah," some freshly cut vegetables, deep fried in chick-pea batter and "Sheek kebab," pieces of Tandoori baked minced lamb seasoned with chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, herbs and spices, served with three kinds of different chutney and Indian "Naan" bread. The red chutney was so hot that some members ordered “Lassi”, a traditional yoghurt-based drink of India, to quench the heat of the spicy food.

Before the main courses arrived the Division Administrator, Karen Tkaczyk, introduced herself and gave a little speech. She thanked Alicja Yarborough for organizing the museum visit and the dinner. Karen then introduced the other founding members of the “new” Sci-Tech, Assistant Administrator Steven Marzuola, and Stephanie Strobel. Karen welcomed Nicolas Hartman, the outgoing ATA president and enthusiastic member of the Sci-Tech Division. Karen then introduced other division volunteers: members of the Leadership Council and the Nominating Committee, most of whom attended the dinner. She pointed out that this year the division was very strongly represented with 11 presentations, and she encouraged everyone to attend the Division’s Annual Meeting on Saturday from 2:30-3:30 p.m.


There was quite a variety of entrées: one called "Chicken Tikka Masala", a Tandoori style white meat chicken in a tomato cream sauce. A second, "Dal Makhani" contained lentils sautéed in butter with fresh herbs and spices, garnished with fresh coriander. Other dishes included "Shahi Aloo Gobhi," cauliflower and potatoes cooked with tomato, onion, herbs and spices, and "Kabuli Chaana," whole chick peas cooked with onions and tomatoes.

Division member Alfred Hellstern and Stephanie Strobel took photographs of the event, visiting table to table so they could catch all 34 members happily chatting and eating. Finally, a delicious desert "Galub Jamum," a dish of two deep fried wheat cake balls, soaked in syrup, completed our menu.

Along with enjoying the wonderful menu, we were happy to have met our distinguished group of colleagues and friends. We exchanged business cards to keep in touch.

It was a fabulous event, and I look forward to meeting even more division members at the Sci-Tech Division dinner during next year’s ATA Annual Conference in San Diego.


Susanna Weerth works as an English – German freelance translator and interpreter. She specializes in life sciences (medical, biological and pharmaceutical), patent, and general legal translation and medical interpretation. She holds a professional certification as medical assistant and worked several years as medical technician in a physician's office and a clinical laboratory at the Veterinary University Clinics of Munich. She received a "Diplom" (MS equivalent) in Biology and a "Doktor" (PhD equivalent) in Biology/Neuroimmunology from the University of Munich and the Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Germany. She worked in a clinical laboratory in Oncology in Germany and after relocating to the US for several years in neuroscience research in laboratories at different universities and the National Institute of Health. She transitioned into translation by completing the "Certificate in German to English Translation" at the New York University in 2010 and started interpreting the same year with courses at Georgetown and Cross Cultural Communication. She has also taken biomedical writing and editing courses. She is currently involved at the board of the National Capitol Area Translators Association (NCATA) and the Nominating Committee of the Science & Technology Division and NCATA.


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Here is another point of view on João Roque Dias’s ATA52 conference session on translating manuals. Thank you to Evan Schapiro, Senior Project Manager at CETRA Language Solutions for reviewing the session.

http://info.cetra.com/blog/bid/48128/ATA52-The-Art-of-Translating-Manuals

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João is atranslator from English into European Portuguese, specializing in translationof “nuts and bolts, and everything between the bolt head and the nut”, i.e.technical manuals. He gave a presentation for ATA Science and TechnologyDivision during the ATA conference in Boston on his specialty, “TranslatingTechnical Manuals”. His definition of a technical manual is “a roadmap for theuser, the bread and butter for any technical translator. Nobody reads a manualbut everybody uses it.” He points out that, technical manuals should betranslated by technical translators with a deep knowledge of the subjectmatter, impeccable writing skills and an excellent command of the style for themanual. Unfortunately this is not always the case and some translators have noidea of what they are translating. He points out that there are different typesof technical manuals and different audiences. The translator should take thisinto account and adjust the style accordingly. The translator should use clearand simple style, master the correct technical terminology and read eachsentence as you were the end user. One of my favorite comments from him was “Ifyou don’t understand what you are reading, you should also not attempt totranslate it”. He also gave many examples of being precise and on falsefriends, with references in his native language, European Portuguese.
João continued his presentation with somepractical tips, such as:

-         nevertranslate the names of the support department, or else the letter may obviouslynot arrive to the correct place

-         payattention to numbers and measurements since they are not written the same wayin all languages

-         findout if labels and controls should be translated in the software or in themachine itself

-         donot translate the names of buttons on the actual machine

-         refuseto translate picture captions without seeing the actual picture

-         havea check list for your work so you do not miss anything, such as manual spellcheck on top of machine spell check

-         readthe whole manual (not literally, of course) before you start translating it

-         collect,study and learn the main terminology that will be common in the type of manualsyou translate

-         usea controlled and simplified (not simple) language

Joãodisplayed a great knowledge on the subject matter and presented a rather “dull”subject in a very entertaining and humorous way. For more information on Joãohimself, or his work you can go to his website: http://www.jrdias.com. To download his presentation (extendedversion in PDF format), this is the link: http://www.jrdias.com/PDF/JRD_Technical_Manuals_52ATA_2011.pdf

Penned byTess Whitty, English into Swedish translator specializing in IT, software and manualsfor consumer electronics http://www.swedishtranslationservices.com.

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