Features of reading and translating technical literature in English at a university

UDC 378.147
Publication date: 19.10.2023
International Journal of Professional Science №10(1)-2023

Features of reading and translating technical literature in English at a university

Lashina Ekaterina N.
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Foreign Languages,
St. Petersburg State University of Industrial
Technology and Design. Higher School of Technology and Energy
Abstract: Specialists in various technological, production and IT fields are in demand in the labor market in the modern world. Therefore, the issue of training such personnel is very relevant. One of the most important factors in such preparation is reading and translating technical literature in English.
Keywords: English language, reading, translation, technical literature, specialist, specialization, term, formulation.

Technologies and production in various industries are actively developing around the world. The demand for specialists in these areas has increased significantly. Qualified personnel must have knowledge, skills and abilities in their profession in order to meet the high requirements presented in the modern labor market.

Successful mastery of foreign languages ​​is now a necessary prerequisite for obtaining interesting work in the country and abroad, strengthening friendships with representatives of different countries, for continuing education in international higher education institutions and professional growth in the chosen field of specialization. English is needed to understand terminology, work with English-language interfaces, read technical documentation, study professional literature, conferences and webinars. One of the opportunities to replenish a specialist’s rapidly becoming outdated knowledge is to obtain information by reading foreign language publications on the relevant technical profile, which has become more accessible via the Internet. Thus, the global informatization of society indirectly helps and simplifies the modern educational process [1].

While working with information in English, professional interest is formed and developed, and cognitive activity is activated. Students can purposefully use the acquired language knowledge in the field of professional activity, which corresponds to the set goal of teaching a foreign language. And therefore, in a foreign language program for technical universities, which are entrusted with the task of training highly qualified specialists, an important component of training is reading original literature in the specialty.

At the initial stage, the main task is the formation of reading mechanisms, that is, the development of visual-graphic connections. Sufficient time should be allocated for reading, students should be given the opportunity to read the text, independently comprehend the content, understand important details, and only then check their understanding. Students must master the skills of syntagmatic division of sentences; learn to establish semantic connections between the components of a sentence and within the text, skills in working with an English-Russian dictionary. It is very important at this stage to achieve a solid assimilation of the lexical minimum, since the speed of orientation in the dictionary and the development of interest in systematically working with it depend on this. At the same time, it is necessary to develop in students the skills and abilities of reading with varying depths of understanding depending on the purposes of reading [2].

As for translation, technical translation can be performed orally and in writing. Therefore, to prepare a professional translator of technical documentation, it is necessary not only to give him general linguistic knowledge (grammar, vocabulary, stylistics), but also to teach him the skills of understanding and reproducing foreign language speech. Self-education is also of no small importance, as it allows a translator to improve himself and easily navigate a variety of areas of human activity, including technical ones.

In recent years, the attitude towards technical translation, as well as towards any other highly specialized translation, has changed noticeably. First of all, this is justified by the development of market relations, when translation began to occupy an increasingly important place in the economy as a commodity. But when reading and translating technical text, it is necessary to take into account a number of specific points. Technical translation can be characterized as the translation from one language to another of technical texts, such as various instructions, technical data sheets of mechanisms and equipment, product catalogs, patents, manuals, contracts, scientific and technical research, reference books, etc. Highly specialized technical translation is associated with the translation of texts of a purely technical nature. This type of translation is the most difficult type of work. Along with absolute accuracy, technical translation requires complete preservation of the general meaning of the document, ease of understanding and the impossibility of ambiguous interpretation of certain moments of the text. When performing technical translation, it is necessary not only to be fluent in the specific subject matter of the text being translated, but also to be able to convey its meaning with the accuracy with which its fundamental semantic load is not lost [3].

When performing technical translation, there are three levels of problems that should be taken into account:

  1. Technical translation implies an accurate translation with careful attention to detail, since the very essence of scientific and technical texts lies in such small but important details. And these details are often nothing more than special terms that are not used in everyday life and are poorly studied during undergraduate studies. Technical text (like any other highly specialized text, such as medical or legal) is very different from literary works. And this has to do not only with style (or genre of storytelling). The main and significant difference lies in the saturation of technical texts with various terms and specific concepts, which, even after translation, are understandable only to a specialist in a particular field. It is clear that it is simply impossible to translate such texts with a school-level vocabulary. And with a vocabulary corresponding to the level of a bachelor’s philologist, a number of inaccuracies will be discovered during the translation, which will be of utmost importance when such a translation is read by a technical specialist. Also, technical texts are full of various abbreviations and acronyms. Translations of common abbreviations can be found in special industry dictionaries. The translator will have to correctly decipher new, unknown abbreviations.
  2. Many problematic issues need to be solved using contextual translation, i. e. translation based on context, when it is simply impossible to directly translate the author’s thought in the original language.

If the original text contains a term that is not recorded in scientific and technical dictionaries for this or related fields, then the student must select a translated equivalent for it using reference books or other specialized literature, or seek advice from an appropriate specialist.

If for a given foreign term an equivalent in Russian has not been established at all, then the translator is recommended, together with a specialist, to create a new equivalent using existing models of term formation. As a last resort, if it is not possible to create a new equivalent in Russian, corresponding in meaning to a foreign term, then the translator must translate this term descriptively and, at the first mention, cite it in parentheses in the original language.

In translation, it is necessary to maintain the uniformity of terms, names of physical quantities and their units, symbols, abbreviations, and symbols. The translator gives only one translation option for individual words, terms or expressions. It is not allowed to present several options as if for the editor’s choice.

The translation should not contain unclear wording that interferes with the correct perception of the meaning of the original.

When constructing a Russian phrase, the translator must take into account that the word order of a foreign sentence does not always coincide with the word order of the Russian sentence.

In Russian, sentence members that carry the main information load are located at the end of the sentence. Therefore, the word order of a foreign sentence often has to be rearranged when translating [4].

  1. The third level problem is the translation style. Many people are convinced that in technical translation there is only one style – technical. It’s hard to disagree with this, but there is a huge variety of its subspecies. So, for example, the translation of technical documentation for a project is carried out in an easier form, publicly accessible to a wider range of potential readers, while the instructions for operating well pumps will be translated clearly and verbatim, and such a translation will be understandable only to a narrow specialist in the field.

Another difficulty for translating technical literature is that most words can and do have multiple meanings. The precise choice of the meaning of a word is a fundamental action. This ensures not only an accurate translation, but also an appropriate conveyance of meaning. Even the slightest inaccuracy in technical translation is unacceptable, as it will lead to negative consequences in practice. Therefore, such translations are done carefully, taking into account every term and concept. Technical translation can be performed orally and in writing. Therefore, to train a highly specialized specialist, it is necessary not only to give him general linguistic knowledge (grammar, vocabulary, stylistics), but also to teach him the skills of understanding and reproducing foreign language speech [5].

So, in order to successfully translate technical literature, students need to know and skillfully apply the rules and recommendations for translating scientific and technical literature and documentation.





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