November 9, 2017

First Joint Workshop:

Bridging the Gap between TC and Translation

Daniela Straub

The first joint workshop by TecCOMFrame / tekom Europe / EMT / LindWeb, "Translating Europe", which took place at the tcworld conference, provided proof of the necessity of common understanding and learning methods shared by translators/localizers and technical communicators.

Inkaliisa Vihonen from the European Commission Directorate General for Translators moderated the informative presentations and the resulting vivid discussion about overlaps and cooperation between technical communication and translation. The main points focused on how to integrate technical communication into study programs for translation and options for joining forces in technical communication and translator training.

The speakers were well-known university teachers, representatives from language associations and students from both sides – technical communication and translation studies. They reported on current projects such as TecCOMFrame, a joint European academic competence framework and curricula for the training of technical communicators, the (PETRA-E) Framework of reference for the education and training of literary translators, a project of the Université Paris Diderot on the collaboration between translators and technical communication as well as the TecCOMFrame prototype curriculum for a specialization program of technical communication in translation studies. Two professors of the EMT Network presented a concrete example of synergies between writing and translation.

The audience discussed with the speakers the importance of sharing knowledge to improve the localization process, and overlaps between technical communication and translation were obvious. The results showed that many technical communicators have come to the profession from translation, and that there is a huge overlap of competencies between both professions, e.g. knowledge about legal requirements, writing skills, information mining competencies, thematic competencies, technological skills, and intercultural competencies.
On the other hand, technical communicators should have a profound understanding of how they can facilitate the translation process, e.g. with terminology and translation-friendly writing.

Important Competencies Stated in the Standards of the Respective Discipline

Finally, both standards postulate this necessity.
IEC 82079-1:2012 states:
"Where instructions for use are translated from the original language into others, expert translators or specialists shall be responsible for the translation including checking and proofreading, should have basic competences in communication, particularly technical communication and be familiar with the subject area."

ISO 17100:2015, which defines requirements for translation service providers and translators, mentions as competencies for translators:

  • "[…] the ability to understand content produced in the source language and to reproduce it in the target language using the appropriate style and terminology"
  • "general or specialized knowledge of text-type conventions"
  • "Competence in research, information acquisition, and processing: the ability to efficiently acquire the additional linguistic and specialized knowledge necessary to understand the source language content and to produce the target language content".