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A Practical Course on EST Translation


Course Description

Course Title: A Practical Course on EST Translation/ 《实用科技英语翻译》

Hours/week: 2 sessions per week

Students: Second-year students (A–level, Grade 2008)

Instructor:Prof. Wei CHEN, Institute for Translation & Intercultural Studies (ITIS), School of Foreign Languages, WHUT

Reference books:

1) Wuqiu FAN. Selections on Practical EST Translation. Foreign Language Publishing House.


2) Zhijie FENG. Essentials for EST Translation. China Translation Publishing House. 2000./冯志


3) Xianfa HUA. A New Practical Textbook of English-Chinese Translation. Hubei Education

Press. 2001./华先发。新适用英译汉教程。湖北教育出版社。2001年。

4) Chengzhang LIN. An Introduction to English Lexicology. Wuhan University Press.1996./林承



This course aims at training students to develop some elementary translation skills as capable EST translators or CIOs (Chief Information Officers) equipped with some knowledge of lexical and discourse features of EST genres, criteria of EST translation, and aware of the common grammatical mistakes or errors in EST translation, rhetoric devices and logics through translation theories study and translating practice.


We wish to:

1)Offer optional but special classes for the students to develop their interests towards EST translation. As science and engineering majors, the students will have chances to learn and appreciate EST materials;

2)Help the students enlarge their EST vocabulary so as to build a robust foundation for ESP (English for Special Purposes)(在拓展学生科技英语翻译能力的同时,有效地实现大学英语与专业英语的有效衔接。);

3)Help the students improve their reading ability through studying and appreciating texts of different styles in EST translation;

4)Help the students enhance their language accuracy and fluency in EST translation; 5)Help the students improve their critical-thinking ability in EST translation;

6)Familiarize the students with relevant translation theories in order to grasp some techniques used for EST translation;

7)Offer the students workshops to do EST translation.

Teaching Methods: lectures; questions and answers; in-class discussion; presentations by students (giving students more space to air their own opinions) Contents:

Lecture 1 : Introduction

Lecture 2 : Lexical features of EST genres

Lecture 3 : Discourse features of EST genres

Lecture 4 : Common Prefixes, Suffixes and Affixes in Technical Terms Translation

Lecture 5 : Body Nouns Used in Technical Terms Translation

Lecture 6 : Some Common Techniques in Technical Terms Translation

Lecture 7 : Theme-Rheme Represented in EST Translation

Lecture 8 : Aesthetic Orientation in EST Translation

Lecture 9 : Shifts between Generalization and Specification in EST Translation Lecture 10 : S entence Length and Focus in EST Translation

Lecture 11 : L ogic Analysis in EST Translation

Lecture 12 : E ST Translation Practice

Lecture 13: S ome Common Grammatical Mistakes in EST Translation

Lecture 14: Some Common Rhetorical Mistakes in EST Translation

Lecture 15: Some Common Logical Mistakes in EST Translation

Lecture 16: Exam


1.Lexical and discourse features of EST genres;

2.Criteria of EST translation

3.Translation expertise in EST translation

Difficulty: Translation techniques in EST translation

课程的重点是科技英语文体的词汇和语篇特征和翻译的标准。难点是科技英语的翻译技巧。Requirements of Students

a)Attend every class unless it is impossible for good reason. (Points are awarded for

class participation. If you do not attend, you cannot participate.)If you cannot make it to class, please let me know ahead of time. ONE absence without note for sick leave will lead to the loss of one point; THREE absences with note for sick leave will lead to the loss of one point

b)Be punctual.

c)Keep cell phones turned off during class time.

d)Work positively and contribute to the best of your ability in class.

e)Complete all assignments on time. Makeup tests and late assignments will only be

considered in case of emergency.

f)Take full advantage of necessary resources to practice your skills. Assignments:

a)background knowledge search for each lecture;

b)preview work for each lecture;

c)exercises after each lecture;

d)one quiz for every 4 lectures.


a)attendance (10%)

b)in-class participation (20%)

c)monthly quiz (10%)

d)final exam (60%)


Lecture 1 Introduction

1.The Definition of EST (English for Science & Technology)

EST (English for Science & Technology or Technical English or Scientific English) is a special language variety widely used in the fields of science and technology. It’s believed that it first came to being in the 1950s along with the rapid development of science and technology, and it many researchers and scholars began to conduct investigation of this common features of this special genre including reading comprehension, writing and even translation.

Example 1

Since the joint gap between a piston and a cylinder has great influence on the service life of an engine, and the primary factor influencing the joint gap is the deformation of a piston under working condition, it is important to show up the actual deformation of piston and for this purpose the finite element has been widely applied to analyze it numerically in China.


Example 2

The action of air on an airplane in flight at low altitude is greater than that at high altitude.


Example 3

Pictures can be stored in the camera’s internal memory (about 14 MB) or on the Secure Digital (SD) memory card. If no memory card has been inserted in the camera, pictures will be stored in the memory, and if the camera contains a memory card, then pictures will automatically be stored on the card.

2.Stylistic Features of EST

Completely different from other genres such as everyday English, literature English, EST has its own stylistic features due to the specialty in content, field and discourse functions, and partly due to the unique habits of EST writers, which are mostly represented in lexical level and syntactical level.

2.1Lexical level

1)Numerous Technical Terms

Technical terms refer to those lexicons specialized in a certain subject or area, with which laymen are unfamiliar, e.g. cryogeneics(低温学), noepinephine(新肾上腺素)


A.Lengthy: mostly containing roots or affixes originating from Latin, Greek and French, etc.

e.g. nucleonics(核子学), semisomnus(半昏迷), autoradiography(自动射线照相术)

B.Numerous compounds coined(新造)to signify the new things coming out in the science and


e.g. radiophotography(无线电传真), anti-armored-fighting-vehicle-missile(反装甲导弹)

C.numerous abbreviations

e.g. FM (frequency modulation 调频), telesat (telecommunications satellite通讯卫星)

2)Numerous pseudo-technical terms


Everyday English EST different senses

e.g. frame 框架1)机架(machinery);2)帧(telecommunications)

transmission 1)发射(radio engineering);2)传动、变速(machinery);3)透射(physics);4)遗传(medical science)

2.2Syntactical Level


For conciseness: abstract nouns denoting action or state + v-ing form or nominal phrases,

e.g. the transmission and reception of images of moving objects by radio waves(通过无线电波来发射和接受活动物体的图像);

illumination intensity determination(照明强度测定);

the generation of heat by friction(摩擦生热);

2)Lengthy sentences and logic connectors

For explicitation(将事理充分说明), we often employ some lengthy sentences containing expressions and clauses(短语和分句)and logic connectors such as hence, consequently, accordingly, however, on the contrary, as a result, in short, etc.

3)The Present Tense and The Perfect Tense

The stated findings and results in the essays or books can be verified and repeated.

4)The Passive Voice

Objective, less subjective, scientific, impersonal,

5)The Antecedent(先行词)‘it’Construction

For balance of sentence structure

e.g. It is quite useful to think of the earth and its atmosphere as being rather like an onion – that is a ball made up of layers, although unlike an onion, each layer is made of different material.

6)Double or triple propositions(介词词组连用)

Relationship of different things such as spatial and temporal relationship(时空关系), subordination(所属关系)and cause-effect relationship(因果关系)etc.

e.g. The action of air on an airplane in flight at low altitude is greater than that at high altitude.


Lecture 2 Prerequisites for EST Translation

1.Basics of Specialty

EST involves many fields in natural sciences, therefore it’s quite essential to get familiar with the knowledge of the relevant subjects along with a rich vocabulary necessary for EST translation.


德马格起重机械(上海)有限公司: 技术翻译& 高级经理教授助理

Technical Translation & Assistant Wanted

Target and Mission

1. Technical translation

2. Provide professional assistant to the Division Manager of Company Development.


1. University education, major in English of Science and technology, Engineering, professional translator qualification

2. Excellent in English

3. At least 3 years experience on technical translation with known translation service provider.

4. Good computer software skills (i.e. Windows, Excel, Power Point, MS Project and etc.)

5. Experience with Translation Memory Management software, e.g. Transit or Trados is preferred.

6. Basic knowledge of mechanical & electrical technology

7. Ability to work independently in area of own responsibility.

8. Proficiency in Microsoft office & operation of office machinery.


1. Translate technical documents and standards

2. Assist Division Manager in administration affairs and technical reports

3. Assist Division Manager for market survey.

4. Assist Division Manager to manage all technical standards (ISO, EU, GB, JB, Demag standards, etc)

5. Assist Division Manager to manager ISO 9001 quality system and related procedure documents;

6. Others activities request from top management team


2.Accurate comprehension of semantic meaning

Popular words + learned words (technical terms): Specialized meanings in EST consult the dictionary

the rapid development of science and technology: newly coined words @@ we cannot find them in the dictionary ?? translation expertise


3.Analyzing the Lengthy Sentences

Lengthy sentences: segmentation + main clause + logic + translation


Prof. Guangzhong YU(余光中):的的不休


EST: formal in style

3 levels: academic(学术性)+ technical(专业性)+ popular(通俗性)




experts well-educated versatile people laymen



the most formal the most informal


1)Experts: AIDS获得性免疫缺乏综合征,poliomyelitis脊髓灰质炎,diarrhea腹泻

2)Laymen: pink eye红眼病,the runs拉肚,AIDS艾滋病/“爱之病”,poliomyelitis小儿麻


5.Familiarizing the word-formation

Newly coined words: neologisms

Prefix +Root + suffix


e.g. heartman(换心人), photobotany(光植物学), hot-press(热压)


e.g. antibody(抗体), semisynthetic(半合成的), futurology(未来学)


e.g. influenza – flu, parachute – chute(降落伞), university –varsity, three-dimensional film --3-D (立体电影)


e.g. teleprinter +exchange – telex(电传), biological + rhythm – biorhythm(生理节奏)


e.g. AC (alternating current交流电), DC(direct current直流电),CCTV(closed circuit television闭路电视)

** Multiple meanings:

e.g. AC

1) absorption coefficient(吸收系数), 2)adapter cable(适配电缆), 3)air condenser(空气冷凝器), 4)air conditioner(空调), 5)alternating current, 6)automatic control(自动控制), 7) accumulator(蓄电池), 8) analog computer(模拟计算机)

6.Assignments: Summarize the commonly used prefixes and suffixes.

Lecture 3 Technical Terms in EST Translation

1.Compound Words: the most common way to enlarge the EST vocabulary

1)Compound nouns

A.N. + N. e.g. diesel locomotive, force pump

B.ADJ. +ADJ. e.g. incandescent lamp, distant signal

C.V-ing + N. e.g. loading platform, rectifying stone

D.N. + V-ing e.g. side-loading, rail reconditioning

E.N. + V-ing + N. e.g. rail reclaiming plant, rail fastening broom

F.N. + V-ed + N./N phrase e.g.dip-forged disc wheel, dip-forged solid disc wheel

G.V. + partical(小品词)e.g. flyover, turnout

H.Particle + V. e.g. uprise, input

I.ADJ. + N. + head N.(中心名词)e.g. narrow-gauge railway, axial piston pump

J.ADJ. + ADJ. + N. + head N. e.g. basic direct access method, double acting stop block

K.ADV. + ADJ. + N./ N phrase e.g. locally alternative sequence functionally distributed computer system

L.N. + N. + N. e.g. gauge side control gear change lever

M.Capital Letter + N. (1) shape, feature and nature: e.g. U-steel, I-beam; (2) abbreviation: e.g. P-waves (P = primary), Q-factor (Q=quality)

N.Greek letter + N. e.g. gamma decay, alpha angel

2)Compound adjectives

e.g. anti-armored-fighting-vehicle-missile(反装甲导弹)

3)Grammar compound:

e.g. double-curved arcbridge, circular one-shaft vibrator, automate route control of train

2.Rules for Technical Term Translation

1)Syntactic Structure of Some Common Technical Terms:

A.S + V(主谓式)

B.V + O(动宾式)

C.ADJ + N(偏正式)

Suggestions of EST Technical Term Translation:

Based on the characteristics of Chinese syntactic technical terms, we should employ some translation techniques such as literal translation, free translation, combination of literal translation and free translation, translation according to its image, etc.



pile driving打桩(V + O)

in-track grinding现场打磨(ADJ + N)

up-and-down hump yards双向驼峰编组场(ADJ + N)

ballast regulating & compacting plate道渣整形夯实板(ADJ + N)

fire retardant paint防火漆(ADJ + N)

cut and cover明挖法(ADJ + N)

flyover立体交叉(ADJ + N)

U-steel槽钢(ADJ + N)

P-waves地震纵波(ADJ + N)

power supply供应电力(S + V)

rail reconditioning钢轨整修(S + V)

2)General feature of Compound Technical Terms:

A.accuracy(确切性):accurately reflect the nature of the concept

B.monosemy(单义性): one sense for one word

C.systematization(系统性):the individual technical terms in a given field should be in

a specific level so as to constitute a common system

D.linguistically correct(语言的正确性):in accordance with the word-formation in the

same language

E.conciseness(简明性):concise and easy to remember

F.motivation(理据性): just as the name implies, one can know the meaning of the


G.stability(稳定性): stable and unlikely to change

H.productivity(能产性): once established, it is easy to produce more neologisms

based the original one by means of word-formation

3)Common Rules for Technical Term Translation

As such, we should deal with the relationship of the following aspects:

A.monosemy vs. conciseness

e.g. 数控in Chinese can refer to either 数值控制(numerical control) or 数字控制(digital control)

monosemy is the priority

B.motivation vs. accuracy

As science knowledge is rather abstract, motivation in translation is preferred. e.g. machine tool机床

C.stability vs. productivity

synchronous even pressure tamping system同步稳压捣固系统


non-synchronous even pressure tamping system异步稳压捣固系统

D.systematization vs. linguistically correct

Before translation of compound technical terms, we should be aware of the nature and tradition of Chinese word-formation.

E.g. 铁路、铁道railway

铁道部、铁道兵、铁道学院==???Collocational regularity 搭配规律




E.Chinese language trait vs. conciseness

As for the numbers of characters, we prefer to use pair characters (偶数词语)or even 4-character expressions(四字结构).

e.g. bi-stable circuit双稳压电路双稳电路

**dog clutch爪形离合器(motivation)

rubber-metal spring橡胶-金属弹簧橡胶-金属夹心弹簧

translation standard: Yan Fu’s “tri-ness”: truthfulness, expressiveness and elegance

3.Semantic Analysis of Compound Technical Term

The first step of accurate grasp of the meanings of the compound technical terms is to analyze their structures. Non-verb compounds(无动词基本合成词)can be classified into 9 kinds according to the relationship between the determiners(限定词)and their head nouns(核心词).

1)N1 produces/makes N2

e.g. steel band rubber band

Purposes: a) show the material related to something(表明与某种物体有联系的材料);

b)prescribe the head nouns without any relationship between them and the given material or substance(规定与这种材料或物质没有必然联系的核心词)

e.g. cane sugar 蔗糖coal gas煤气oil film油膜saw dust锯木屑

2)N2 produces/makes N1

e.g. steel mill(轧钢厂), copper mill(轧铜厂), paper mill(造纸厂)

computer factory oil well(油井)rubber tree(橡胶树)tear gas(催泪瓦斯)

3)N1 drives(驱动)N2

Head noun: object; determiner: agent, the source to drive head nouns such as equipment, instruments, tools, etc.

e.g. air drill风钻battery car电池汽车oil control油压控制器spring governor弹簧调速器

4)N1 contains N2

Determiner: whole; head noun: part

e.g. bed post床架motor drive电机驱动装置oscillator plate 振荡片table leg桌子脚

5)N1 is N2

The determiner and the head noun have something in common.

e.g. blinker light闪光灯pine tree 松树resistant element电阻元件

6)N1 uses N2

N1 determines the usage of N2.

e.g. block switch闭路开关oil way油路safety valve安全阀

7)N1 is turned into N2

e.g. snowflake雪花: a flake of snow


8)ADJ. + N. = N.

The ADJ. determiner represents the attributes of the head noun such as color, shape, size, taste. etc.

e.g. blank bill空白票据square coil矩形线圈fixed point定点

floating point浮点black pigment黑颜料dark room暗室

9)N2 is like N1


e.g. butterfly nut蝶形螺母butterfly valve 蝶形阀catfish猫头鱼

H-cable H型电缆U-steel槽钢V-belt三角皮带

Lecture 4 Common Prefixes, Suffixes and Affixes in Technical Terms








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