Dictionaries and their Solution

The Deficiencies of Technical Terminology

If you are multilingual or perhaps even an English speaker with another linguistic repertoire of the English language such as British, Australian, Canadian, or Indian, then you understand  that some words or phrases may have alternative meanings across different languages and dialects. Sometimes there is no translation at all! Perhaps you have found yourself trying to explain the meaning of a word to someone who understands it to be something completely different in context. For example, the word ‘flat’ means horizontal or dull in American English, but in British English it means ‘apartment.’ Now, imagine the same situation in a technical or scientific context, for example, a person that speaks Indian English trying to understand a technical manual for a product, or a Spanish-speaking person who is trying to translate an English scientific document. I speak both fluent English and Spanish and am constantly using the dictionary and thesaurus for both languages due to delayed lexical access in comprehension, a common problem among multilinguals. Therefore dictionaries and thesauruses are a constant communication tool that I keep on my computer at all times. With the expansion of globalization, I constantly keep in mind the effect my writing may have on international audiences, especially for when I become a Professional Technical Communicator.

The article “Bilingual Technical-Translation Thesaurus as a Reliable Aid to Technical Communication,” by Maryam Faal Hamedanchi, reviews this problem of technical and scientific terminology translation. The author mentions that this type of terminology is more complicated than we think. Especially since this type of terminology needs to be strict and precise in writing for accurate translation but reveals that standardization of this technical and scientific terminology may not be the solution. When communicating scientific and technical terms across languages there is not always an exact translation for every word, especially within this field, therefore making the transition of this information between languages more difficult. Terminological databases such as dictionaries and glossaries have been vital sources of information for many language professionals for decades, but seem to be unsuccessful in term translation. The article offers a solution in the use of a bilingual technical translation thesaurus, therefore employing several semantic approaches using concepts, synonyms, antonyms, or term combinations to retrieve the most accurate term.


Bilingual Technical-Translation Thesaurus as a Reliable Aid to Technical Communication, by Maryam Faal Hamedanchi

Viewpoint Written by Christina E. Rendon, Texas State University

Edited by Rachel Spradling, Texas State University

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