Thursday, August 13, 2009

French to English: Petroleum Industry, Part 3


lens I created a Squidoo lens about translation awhile back.  For that blog (Squidoo prefers to call it a lens), I talked about translation as a career covering topics like translation tools, fees, pitfalls and training. 

Regarding tools, translators need more than just bilingual dictionaries.  These days a translator who works with pocket dictionaries would get a severe reprimand because pocket dictionaries simply won't do.  If you're studying to become a translator, throw them out!

Aside from bilingual dictionaries, professional translators who take their work seriously tirelessly collect other useful tools of the trade like bilingual catalogs and glossaries.  And the more specialized these tools are, the better.

My main terminology source is Termium (owned by the Canadian government) but there are times when Termium can't provide the terms I'm looking for.  So what do I do?

I scavenge around for French/English web sites (99.9% of the Canadian government web sites are developed in both languages), or consult other terminology banks like the IATE (Inter-Active Terminology for Europe).  Use of their terminology data base is free (thank goodness) and can be accessed by anyone looking for translations in even the more obscure languages like Lithuanian or Maltese  Terms are divided according to industry or field of activity.  Would-be translators, this is a site to include in your bookmarks!

Given that new terms keep appearing, a translator needs to be resourceful.  I can't stress this enough.  The ability to locate the right equivalent in the target language at lightning speed is a desirable trait.  Unfortunately,  publishers of dictionaries and industry-specific lexicons just can't keep up with the flurry of new words and phrases.

At the very minimum, a translator needs:

  • good bilingual dictionaries preferably with over 300,000 word entries (not including contextual expressions and phrases)
  • unilingual dictionaries published by a recognized name like Larousse, Harraps, Le Petit Robert
  • specialized glossaries and lexicons
  • web sites that specialize in terminology
  • web sites that cover the industry you're translating
  • academic reference materials (e.g. Elsevier - but books by this publisher cost an arm and a leg)

Having said that, and to prove that the more tools you have, the more efficient and accurate your translation will be, I tested Termium for certain technical words used in the petroleum industry.  Out of the 15 words and phrases I collected, Termium was able to give me only half (8).  I didn't panic because sitting on my book shelf is the French Petroleum Institute's bilingual Dictionary of Petroleum Technology compiled by M. Moureau and G. Brace (Editions Technip).  This dictionary is probably one of the more comprehensive ones in the market and I'd be foolish to sell it - even at profit!

One final word of advice before I present the last instalment of petroleum words and phrases:  France may use a different term than say Canada or Belgium and it's up to translators to clarify with their client who the target readers are!



sable diluviens diluvial sands
inclinaison magnétique needle dip
dénomination d'une diagraphie de porosité obtenue pendant le forage Drilling Porosity Log (DPL)
émulsionner to emulsify
dossier d'impact sur l'environnement environmental impact statement
amodiation (ou accord d'affermage) farmout agreement
vanne à sécurité intrinsèque failsafe valve
plan de charriage overthrust fault
jauge de Birmingham pour les fils Birmingham Wire Gauge
calibre pour tôles plate gage
additif pour essence gasoline additive
gaz acide sour gas
gaz de combustion stack gas
gaz naturel de synthèse substitute natural gas (SNG)
habitat des hydrocarbures oil habitat
effort de traction hauling

There are hundreds of thousands more petroleum terms and we will definitely revisit this theme to build this lexicon further!

For the next series, I'm wavering between information technology (one of my translation specialties) and the wine industry (having just come back from Niagara's scenic wine route last week).  I'm not a wine lover nor do I drink socially, but somehow this wine tour stirred my imagination.

I'll let you know!

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