The missing face behind R&D
Any country’s prosperity in a rapidly changing global economy depends critically on the quality and quantity of their R&D, a key driver of innovation. Research and Development activities are at the heart of each National Industrial Strategy with the goal to build a successful knowledge-based economy. Universities and public research institutes along with private companies are responsible for performing scientific and industrial research, measured by publications in scientific and engineering journals.
English is the language used to spread knowledge on an institutional level. For researchers who do not have a good command of English, the relationship with a specialized translator is essential. Working together with a technical translator, who considers not only the general language, but also the specific terminology, idioms or tone used in a particular field of knowledge is a major imperative in order to have an accurate communication and ultimately to be understood.
Let’s see three common scenarios where the technical translator plays a crucial role:
- Let’s imagine that an Italian expatriated professional who has carried out the last 25 years of her R&D abroad in Pittsburgh (PA) has come across the opportunity to be granted funding by the Italian government who through a new R&D policy would like to have all their senior scholars back. She is eligible and meets all the requirements stipulated. Yet, at this point in her successful career, she simply cannot put her body of work into Italian since she has developed her entire career in English and knows all the corresponding nomenclature and idioms in this language. This should not be a barrier. To avoid missing out on this opportunity, a technical translator then steps in. A technical translator is the person with the resources to correctly address these government agencies with precise terminology.
- Now, we can consider a start-up company with a revolutionary sensor with endless applications. They are selling almost effortlessly in most European countries and even in the US but, for some reason, they seem unable to enter the French market, even though they have no direct competitors in France All the while, they have been consistently sending out the same promotional material to potential clients everywhere. Well, not exactly the same: the introductory e-mail for the French is in French, and it was written by one of the engineers in the team who took some classes back in high school. It probably isn’t the most accurate piece of writing, but it is worth a try… right? Well, the problem lies in the fact that the text says senseur as opposed to capteur, which is the word commonly used in France for this particular type of sensor, and that the e-mail uses such an informal tone that it can actually be misinterpreted as rude. Luckily, the translator noticed that right away, corrected the mistakes and fixed the overall tone of the text. Now, the sensor has a real shot of being sold all across France with a clear message reaching their potential clients.
- Lastly, we have a Spanish engineer in his fourth year doctorate studies who is still asking himself in which language to write his thesis. It is true that the easiest option would be to write it in Spanish. However, his thesis has some specific audiences to address. If written in Spanish, it will certainly address the local university department and the academic community in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. Yet, writing it in English will dramatically broaden the potential audience, since many more people in the world can read English in comparison to Spanish. Nevertheless, do those additional people matter that much? That is up to the doctorate student to determine and the university to agree to. If the answer is yes, the PhD student will need robust support in order to elaborate the thesis as it would be written by a native English speaker because there are already many papers that you simply cannot understand. If you give importance to the language, in this case English, the support and best practices of a technical translator is invaluable to transmit the message and avoid unnecessary confusion or potential misunderstanding.
As you can see, then, technical translation is extremely important, not only to be able to develop your research by receiving the funding you need, but also to achieve your full commercial potential and, most importantly, to make sure that the hard work that goes into publishing one’s findings in documents such as a doctoral thesis is clear and comprehensible for the international community who it will reach, making sure to use the shared professional jargon in each area of expertise. In fact, grasping technical jargon requires an instructor to be an expert on the subject matter of the field in question. Therefore, these ESP (English for a Specific Purpose) language trainers spend a great deal of time reading in order to find the right word for the target language and foster the ability to express ideas in a concise way.
In particular, we would like to pay a small tribute to Katie Linder who after 5 years at our company still pursues her curiosity and maintains a youthful eagerness to stay in the loop on emerging tendencies, the latest technological breakthroughs and innovations. Congrats on your 5 years at REGNER®!!!
She is indeed the face behind the scenes on our R&D activities, a professional with a passion for concise and accurate writing in English that leads our engineers to structure and prepare excellent papers worthy of an international readership. With her motto, “I’m always happy to help”, she is the invisible hand pitching in on so much of our work, be it for our documents, articles or technical reports.
We would like to show our gratitude for always giving us your reliable guidance and instruction on the required detailed knowledge for our control motion research projects and for doing it with such a proactive attitude. Just when it seems there is no translation for a very specific term, she comes up with the relevant terminology having read a myriad of documents. It’s always a pleasure to work with Katie Linder because she makes what could have been very trying tasks that much easier.