Features of the translation of scientific articles


The translation of scientific texts plays a unique role in the lives of people around the world. Texts of this type are different from any other, since the scientific work covers different genres and styles, and pursues different goals. In any field, these texts – both theoretical and technical – are designed to shape thinking and develop the imagination.

Given their nature, scientific texts can be difficult to translate. Consider differences in style and content. The exact sciences (eg physics, chemistry, geology, etc.) are “technical” in nature. Their concepts are mostly universal and do not depend on the region or language. In the field of literature, figurative turns and colloquial units are used, which are often difficult to translate into another language. The social sciences are even more complicated: they explore ideologies and concepts that have different meanings depending on the historical period and place of application.

Difficulties of scientific translation

To get a quality translation of a scientific article, you must first answer a few questions, in particular:

What style is the text in?

What format is it in?

What is his goal?

Are there graphics, drawings, etc. in the text?

What audience is the document intended for?

What degree of cultural assimilation is required? etc.

Based on the responses, you can develop translation tactics and determine whether it is appropriate to use translation software. The more technical and versatile the text is in nature, the more efficient the use of CAT tools is, as opposed to lexically heterogeneous documents.

Separately, we pay attention to humanitarian texts: they often use terms and concepts that are understandable within a certain region, were understood during a certain period, or have different interpretations in cultures that conflict with each other. Accordingly, the standard settings are not suitable for localization and cultural adaptation of such documents.

Care must also be taken not to allow inappropriate modernization. If the text is about history and past periods, the application of modern concepts, ideas, beliefs, and even lexical or grammatical forms can have the effect of anachronism.

Most translators strive to ensure that translated documents are perceived as if they were created in the target language. With scientific texts, this is not always possible, because the target audience reads a scientific text to learn something. Accordingly, the audience adapts to the document, and not vice versa. That is, a scientific translation may well sound like a translation.

What to pay attention to

Before translating a scientific text, pay attention to several aspects.

Terminology. You should immediately decide whether localization of lexical units, phrases and concepts is needed. Or, on the contrary, it is worth leaving them in their original form.

Technical jargon, abbreviations, etc. How to deal with such units? They can be explained in notes, translated by transcreation or transliteration.

Topic. If the text is specialized, it should be translated by experts in the relevant field. Knowing the “language” of the industry, the translator will appropriately use the appropriate lexical units and provide a competent, professional result. For example, the term ” vector ” has different meanings in biology and physics, and even more so in sociology.

Syntax. In most subjects, translators independently correct the text for the purpose of localization, but in scientific works this can harm the content. Many authors convey their emotions and intentions not only through the choice of vocabulary and terminology, but also using syntax. For example, sometimes it’s not worth breaking long complex sentences into several simple ones in translation – this can completely change the “mood” of an article.

Ideology. The essence of scientific texts is to convey an idea or state a concept. Such concepts often cause ideological conflicts. Usually in translation, localization corrects information to prevent cultural conflicts and potential offences. However, a scientific text may intentionally have a similar effect, and the translation must not distort the author’s intent.

Despite the difficulties, scientific texts are successfully translated. For example, our certified translation agency Manchester offers the translation of books, manuals, scientific articles, etc. Recall that when looking for a contractor, you should know what questions to ask, what answers to expect and what services to order to get a quality result.


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