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This preface aims to set out the parameters for translating part of the English technical text, Identification and Case Selection Guidelines for Early Childhood Stuttering by Richard F. Curlee, into Traditional Chinese and to prepare the ground for its annotations. Part I illustrates the background information of the source text. In this part, the text choice will be explained and the register of text will be analysed. Part II defines technical translation and outlines the general characteristics of technical language. It will also discuss how the difference between SL and TL technical writing gives rise to a number of translation intricacies and what strategies have been used to resolve these issues. Before a conclusion is drawn, Part III contains the translator’s evaluation of the translation exercise.

I would like to point out that the number of reference books specified on theories and skills of technical translation are limited. In addition, English reference books tend to quote examples of translation from and to European languages rather than English to Chinese. The issue is that translation theories on European languages often do not apply to Chinese as the latter belongs to a very different language family. As a result, I have consulted a number of Chinese translation reference books because they give a much thorough analysis on English to Chinese translation strategies. Hence, Chinese quotations are frequently used both in this preface and in the annotations, for examples, in Part III of this preface and Annotations 4, 6, 10, 12 and 13 etc.

I would also like to point out that detailed analysis of translation issues and the justification of my treatment of these issues are put in the Annotations section. IBACKGROUND INFORMATION

1Text Choice

Stuttering is a developmental speech disorder which affects about 60 million people around the world[ ‘It is estimated that approximately 1%, or 60 million, of the 6 billion people with whom we share this world, stutter.’ Information obtained from the International Stuttering Association Website:]. On the mainland of China alone, there are at least over one hundred thousand people who suffer from stuttering[ Figure obtained in p.17 of One Voice, a handbook published in December 2004 by the International Stuttering Association.]. So far, the cause of stuttering remains unknown. Compared to life-threatening illnesses, stuttering is often seen as a form of speech impediment which, at most, only causes inconvenience in one’s daily life. However, many people fail to see that without early professional intervention, this disorder could easily develop into a life-long disability. In contrast, if patients are offered timely and professional treatment, stuttering can be controlled and even cured.

On the mainland of China, although a substantial number of people suffer from stuttering, academic research on stuttering has remained limited and unsystematic. The Stuttering Foundation of China is still at an infant stage and has yet to join the International Stuttering Association. Research has shown that the onset of childhood stuttering is the highest between the age of two and four (Conture & Curlee 2007: 3) and the best time to receive treatment is said to be within this period. However, on the mainland of China, many children who stutter have passed this optimal time for treatment. In Hong Kong, the situation is similar. No formal organisation has been set up to support people who suffer from stuttering and research on this subject is scant.

The above brief picture of stuttering is one of the reasons which lead to my decision to translate Dr. Richard F. Curlee[ Dr. Curlee, R., (1935-2008), last worked as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona.] ‘s Identification and Case Selection Guidelines for Early Childhood Stuttering (Conture & Curlee 2007: 3-22). His view on the subject is up to date and relevant to current developments in the research of stuttering. In his paper, he provides guidelines to help clinicians decide who would benefit from treatment and when to initiate early professional intervention.

In view of Dr. Curlee’s expertise and experience, I believe that by translating his work from English into Traditional Chinese can benefit clinicians and thousands of patients in Hong Kong and it might also help to raise the awareness of stuttering on the mainland of China.


Before a translator proceeds to translate a text, it is important that the register of the ST is defined as it determines the lexical, syntactic and rhetoric choice of the TT. According to Baker, register is ‘a variety of language that a language user considers appropriate to a specific situation.’ (1992: 15). She defines the register of a discourse in terms of three parameters: tenor, mode and field (1992: 16).

Tenor is about who is taking part in the discourse and their relationships (Baker 1992: 16). In this case, the ST is written by the late Dr. Curlee who was a leading expert in the research of stuttering. His work, alongside with other academic works, is published in the book, Stuttering and Related Disorders of Fluency (2007). The blurb says that this handbook is ‘ideal for students in graduate programs and clinical practicum… and practitioners in clinical setting’. This suggests that the majority of the target readers, as well as the source readers, are not laymen of the subject field. They are informed and would expect the content of the essay to include an in-depth discussion on the subject.

Mode is ‘the role that the language is playing… and its medium of transmission.’(Baker 1992: 16). The ST is an academic paper published in a reference book. Its medium of transmission is in the written form. As the book is published by Thieme Medical Publishers Inc., an international publisher specialising in publishing reference books to experts of various medical fields, it is reasonable to expect that the ST has a formal register.Field is an abstract term for ‘what is going on’ (Baker 1992:16). In this case, the field is how the author uses the paper to publish his view on early childhood stuttering. He reasons with the readers by using his clinical experience and advises them on how to diagnose stuttering and when to start treatment for patients.

Based on the above analysis, Identification and Case Selection Guidelines for Early Childhood Stuttering is categorised as a technical text of an academic register, and the translation exercise as a technical translation.


1Define Technical TranslationIn 1993, the American Translators Association published a volume named as Scientific and Technical Translation. In the editors’ preface, technical translation is defined as follows:

Technical translation… encompasses the translation of special language texts i.e., texts written using Languages for Special Purposes (LSP). As such, technical translation (and “technical terminology” as well) includes not only the translation of texts in engineering or medicine, but also such disciplines as economic, psychology and law. These texts require not only a firm mastery of both the source and target languages, but also at least an informed layman’s (or even journeyman’s) understanding of the subject field treated by the text, coupled with the research skills needed to write like an expert on the leading edge of technical disciplines.(Wright & Wright, Jr. 1993:1)

Newmark gives another definition on technical translation. He describes it as ‘specialised translation’ as opposed to institutional translation which includes subjects such as politics, commerce, finance, government etc. (1988: 151).

From these two definitions, we can conclude that technical translation is the translation of specialised texts and it has its own style of language.

2Technical language

Pinchuck says that technical language is identified by its formal style, large amount of terminologies and a high frequency of passive forms (1977: 162). He also notes that technical language ‘is horrifying from the aesthetic point of view. It is the exact opposite of literary style. Its aim is to create an average, mediocre, impersonal style, with the individual kept as much in the background as possible.’ (1977: 171).#p#分页标题#e#

Technical language is often factual and non-emotional. Newmark comments that the technical writing style is ‘usually free from emotive language, connotations, sound-effects and original metaphor’ (1988: 151).

3Translation Issues

During the translation process, a lot of the translation issues came up in the first quarter of the text and they re-occured in the remainder of the text. This is why in the annotations, translation issues such as terminology, the use of the passive voice and the use of pronouns are addressed very early on in the text. The fact that a number of translation issues occur early and re-occur throughout the rest of the ST indicates a rather interesting feature of technical translation. A technical translator perhaps should make an extra effort to detect the issues at an early stage of the translation and develop a consistent way to resolve the issues to ensure consistency.

Translation issues occur when there is non-equivalence between the SL and the TL or the ST and the TT. In order to discuss systematically the major issues arising from this translation exercise, they are divided into three levels: lexical, syntactic and textual.

Lexical Level


According to Newmark, terminology takes up about 5-10% of a technical text (1988: 151). The amount of technical terms in the current ST is almost 5%. As research in childhood stuttering in Hong Kong and the mainland of China is limited, there are very few up to date Chinese parallel texts available as reference material. In addition, a lot of the widely recognised English terminologies do not have an equivalent Chinese translation.

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:paraphrase the acronym or technical term into a descriptive phrase (see Annotation 23)find out the exact meaning from English or medical dictionaries; if there is no equivalent Chinese term, sometimes it is useful to blend two Chinese words together to form a new TL term (see Annotations 2, 9 & 22)research as many parallel texts as possible and refer to the existing translations (see Annotation 7)

Superordinates and Hyponyms

Another issue is the non-equivalent use of superordinates and hyponyms. This occurs when the ST uses more generic terms and the TT uses more specific terms to refer to the same concept. Annotations 4 and 14 explain how the literal translation of the word ‘child/children’ is too general for the TT.

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:work out the hierarchical structure of the semantic fields of a wordchoose the right word in the target language according to the context


Nominalisation is a common translation issue when translating an English ST into Chinese. ‘在普通英語中用動詞表達的內容, 科技英語中常用名詞表達…這種名詞化結構簡潔、結構緊湊… 省卻過多的主謂結構’ (Wang 1989: 39). Annotations 13 and 27 illustrate this translation issue.

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:if possible, follow the English structure by using a compound noun or noun phrase (see Annotation 13)convert the noun phrase back into a verbal clause (see Annotation 27)

Syntactic Level


Wang believes that there are three reasons for the frequent use of the passive voice in English technical texts. Firstly, sometimes, in technical research, the result is more important than who carries out the action, ‘科技作者探討事物的發展過程和闡述科學原理時, 往往着眼於演繹論證的結果, 而不大考慮動作的實行者.’ (1989: 32-33). Secondly, the passive voice gives a sense of objectiveness and thirdly, the passive voice can help to make the sentence more succinct (1989: 33). However, the passive voice is rarely used in Chinese. Thus, it is sometimes necessary to convert the passive voice in the ST into the active voice in the TT. Annotations 5, 6 and 8 are examples of translation issues involving the use of the passive voice.

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:recover the agent of the actionchange the ‘Patient + Action’ structure in the ST into the ‘Agent + Action’ structure in the TT

Adverbial Clause

This is another example of non-equivalent syntactical features between the ST and the TT. Adverbial clauses are used very frequently in the ST as they are an efficient way of organising information and expressing logic (Liu 1997: 347). Annotation 18 is an example of a translation issue which involves adverbial clause in the ST.

Strategy used in the TT is as follows:paraphrase the adverbial clause into a subordinate clause


In Baker’s opinion, different languages have different grammatical categories. This is because every culture has its own way of expressing real-world relations (1992: 85). English is an inflected language while Chinese is not. In English, the verb form indicates temporal relation but in Chinese, this relation is inferred between phrases or clauses. Annotation 19 illustrates an example of the tense issue.

Strategy used in the TT is as follows:by adding an adverbial to establish time reference

Compound SentenceEnglish technical texts tend to use a lot of compound sentences. Annotations 28 and 30 illustrate this issue. When translating compound sentences into Chinese, literal translation does not work. This is because Chinese technical texts tend to express ideas in a linear way with shorter clauses or sentences.

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:deconstruct the sentence into several translation units and recast them according to the sequencing pattern of the TTbreak the sentence up into shorter clauses or sentencesif necessary, add new words or punctuations to link up the newly re-arranged translation units so that the coherence of the sentence can be maintained

Textual Level


‘The formality of a text is a measure of the attention the writer gives to the structuring of the message. Greater attention leads to more care in writing and this marks the text as possessing a higher degree of formality and signals a more distant relationship … between writer and reader.’ (Bell 1991: 186) There is non-equivalence between the address system in the ST and the one in the TT. In Chinese academic texts, the author avoids reference to himself as ‘I’ or ‘my’, ‘筆者’ or ‘筆者的’ is used instead. In the ST, the author uses ‘I’ or ‘my’ throughout the whole text. Adjustments therefore have to be made in the TT so that the level of formality meets the target reader’s expectation.

Strategy used in the TT is as follows:change ‘I’ to ‘筆者’ and ‘my’ to ‘筆者的’ (see Annotation 11)


Coherence transcends lexical and syntactic levels. It is about ‘a network of relations which organize and create a text’ (Baker 1992: 218). In the ST, pronouns are often used to prevent the text from becoming too wordy. Also, SL readers can infer the network of relations. However, in the TT, coherence will be lost if too many pronouns are used. TL readers expect to know what specific items the author is referring to. Annotation 12 illustrates how the translation of pronouns from the ST to the TT becomes an issue.Coherence is also about how the information is presented in such a way that is logical to the target readers. English technical texts use a large number of compound sentences. Readers are expected to infer the underlying logical relations and coherence between the translation units. However, Chinese technical texts tend to use much shorter sentences to deliberate logic. As a result of this non-equivalence, when translating compound sentences from E to C, connectives, punctuation and extra words have to be added to the TT so that the coherence of the text is assured (see Annotations 17 and 21).

Strategies used in the TT are as follows:replace pronouns with specific referred itemsinsert punctuation adequately to enhance coherenceconnectives are used to express relations between different translation units

Culture Specific Examples

Gerzymisch-Arbogast notes the issue of quoting examples in technical translation, ‘the translation of examples is often complicated by the fact that they are culture specific. They can only fulfil their function of providing the reader with “given” information, i.e., illustrative purposes, if the reader can relate to the quoted example.’ (Wright & Wright, Jr. 1993: 39). In the ST, the author quotes a number of examples of speech disfluencies (ST: L159). The problem is that the examples are based on English phrases. These examples are much less relevant to Chinese clinicians or researchers. Therefore, it is necessary to add a translator’s note to clarify the fact that the examples quoted are only for English target readers.

So far, the above mentioned are only some of the major translation issues in my translation exercise.#p#分页标题#e#


1 Approach

Halliday and Hasan believe that no sentence is an isolated entity. It cannot be interpreted separately without referring to other sentences as a whole. He has a graphic way of describing the meaning of a text:‘the meanings are woven together in a very dense fabric in such a way that, to understand them, we do not look separately at its different parts; rather, we look at the whole thing simultaneously from a number of different angles, each perspective contributing towards the total interpretation. That is the essential nature of functional approach.’(Halliday and Hasan 1989: 23)

Instead of interpreting an ST text separately on the lexical, syntactic or textual level, Halliday and Hasan suggest that the three levels are closely interwoven with each other, ‘like a very dense fabric’. Accordingly, only when a translator can see the closely knit relationship of the three levels can he transfer a comprehensive message.Following this approach, when I was writing the translation, I established my personalised discipline. I took care not to miss any message delivered on the lexical, syntactic and textual level. When in doubt, I re-read the ST and TT over and again times before I decided on the correct translation choice. When I started the translation, I adopted the bottom-up approach which meant I tried to solve issues on a lexical level first and then worked my way up to the textual level. However, I did not use the same approach throughout the translation. I sometimes did it the other way round which meant a top-down approach. I alternated between the two depending on the issue. In this way, I was able to understand the texts from two different perspectives.I found that the process translation was not a continuous process. Sometimes, after I translated a section, I stopped and went back to check an issue before I continued. It was a ‘two steps forward and one step backward’ pattern. This pattern might have something to do with the fact that many translation issues occur in the early part of the text and re-occur later on. Can this pattern be generalised to other technical translation? Does institutional translation contain the same issue? This would be an interesting area to explore.


According to Wright & Wright Jr.’s definition of technical translation, technical translators not only have to possess excellent language skills, but also ‘coupled with the research skills needed to write like an expert on the leading edge of technical disciplines’ (1993: 1; Section 1 of Part II). Wang says that a good knowledge of technical subjects is a minimum requirement of a technical translator, ‘較好地掌握所譯專業的技術知識和一般的科普常識,恐怕是起碼的要求’ (1989: 21). Therefore, thorough research on the subject field is crucial in technical translation.

As stuttering or childhood stuttering is an under-researched area in Hong Kong and on the mainland of China, two issues arise: firstly, many terms in SL have no equivalent terms in TL; and secondly, it is difficult to obtain Chinese parallel texts. For those that I could obtain, they often had a different style and the translation of certain terms was not consistent.

Although the internet is a good tool for research, some of the information available might be inaccurate. I often find that it is more reliable to use printed dictionaries instead of the on-line versions, when defining technical terms. Normally I am able to determine the definition of a specific term by cross-checkingessay范文 different dictionaries, including specialised dictionaries. As a fall back, I also consult people who have knowledge of the subject. A technical translator needs to be careful and resourceful when determining the accuracy of information.

3Translation TheoriesBaker stresses the importance of theoretical training for translators. She points out that some translators argue strongly that translation only requires aptitude, practice and general knowledge. However, she believes that theories are also necessary. Not only can they minimize the risks of mistranslation and help translators deal with the unpredictable, they can also give translators confidence because they know that their decisions are ‘made on the basis of concrete knowledge rather than intuition’ (1992: 2). When I was unsure how to handle certain translation issues, I found that translation theories helped me to make the right decision. I agree with Baker that translators must not rely on intuition or random decisions. Translation theories are guidelines for translators. Every translation choice should be justified.

4Principles of Technical Translation

This exercise has given me a chance to have a good understanding of technical translation. It also has prompted me to ask: what are the principles of technical translation and what is the order of these principles?

Herman suggests that – not in any particular order – clarity, conciseness and correctness are what technical translators should try to achieve (Wright & Wright, Jr. 1993: 13-18). Newmark believes that technical translators should take no risk and accuracy always comes first. However, he adds, if a translator can give the TT a natural and elegant style, ‘the writer will be grateful’ (1988: 159-160).I prefer Yan Fu’s principles of translation. In the preface of Tianyanlun (《天演論》), he put forward three principles for translation. From the most important to the least, they are: faithfulness (信), fluency (達) and literary elegance (雅). Wang interprets Yan’s three principles as:

所謂 “信”,就是要忠實準確地傳達原文內容;所謂 “達”,就是譯文要通暢;所謂 “雅”,就是譯文要有文采,要注意修辭。(Wang 1989:8)Yan’s priority of the three principles is a useful guide for technical translators. Ideally, technical translators should strive to achieve all three. However, when there is conflict between them, faithfulness should never be compromised just as Newmark says, because the predominant aim of a technical text is ‘the presentation of information’ and ‘to communicate ideas’ (Pinchuck 1977: 18).


There is often a misunderstanding that technical translation is less skilled and interesting than institutional translation. Some translators maintain that ‘technical translation is solely a matter of correctly transferring technical content’ (Wright & Wright, Jr. 1993: 3) and a large amount of time is spent checking dictionaries and on research. However, this view is far from the truth to my understanding.

As mentioned above, technical translation is not just about transferring technical terms. Without a thorough understanding of meanings on the syntactic and textual levels, the message of the ST would not be fully rendered and the intention of the author would not be reproduced in the TT. In order to produce a good piece of technical translation, the translator has to be creative, resourceful and versatile.

I would argue that technical translation is not just a craft but is also an art. This translation exercise has provided me with an insight into what principles and techniques are important to achieve a good technical translation; and last but not least, what pitfalls are to be avoided. There is still plenty of room for improvement but it has been a good learning experience.


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