On Technical Translation

In a technical text, one wants to use terms used by experts, either practitioners or academies, always assuming that the readership is correspondingly expert. Nothing wrong with translating spéléologue as 'caver', la rivière souterraine as 'the river cave' or le système des circulations souterraines as 'the drainage' for practitioners; 'speleologist', 'underground river' and 'underground water flow system' for academics. The first versions are narrower and more concrete than the second.

Again, concretion is more precise than 'formation', and although 'concretion' is a perfectly valid English word, 'formation' is justified if it is more commonly used by experts, and is likely to be well understood in its context. In an informative technical text, the translation's function is to give the information clearly, neatly and elegantly (that is its 'literary' quality), preferably in professional language (technical and ordinary). It need not give all the information explicit in the original, provided it is implicit in the translation, and that the reader is likely to grasp it.


Peter Newmark (1993) Paragraphs on Translation, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, p. 2.