Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Translating in the wrong domain

As is so often the case, and one of the reasons I'm still in the business, today's German-to-English translation included a word that was new to me: Ölflexkabel. But luckily, the first hit on Google was an English translation from an online dictionary: oil flex cable. Bingo! Isn't the Internet great?

But wait a minute, that link has a .de domain name, meaning that the person who made that entry was not necessarily a native speaker of my target language. So first I click on "Images" to see what an Ölflexkabel looks like, and I get lots of pictures of electrical cables in various not-so-revealing poses. Then I search just for "Ölflex", and suddenly there's the best confirmation a terminologist could ask for, an English-language entry from Lapp USA, manufacturer of the "Olflex®" line of flexible, oil-resistant cables. A few more clicks bring me to http://www.lappusa.com/brands-olflex.htm which tells the whole story. Or at least the US English version of it; as it turns out Ölflex® is also a registered trademark in many countries.

This is pretty typical of the way I like to research terms – first I check a paper or online dictionary or database, but then I always try to get an independent target-language confirmation of the term, preferably published or posted in the target country. Google offers a quick and easy way to narrow down the domains you search; for example, just add "site:.com" (without the quotes) to your search and you'll only see hits for web pages with .com domains. Just that little extra work can save a lot of grief. Take my word for it. Or take your chances with someone else's word for it.


Claudia said...

Great post! I also work that way; that is, limiting the domain and using graphics to visually ID a term. Google results can be very misleading, but if you know how to use it properly, it will be a fantastic resource.

One tip that you might find useful: Firefox's Quicksearches. If you want to limit your results to one domain, and you're always entering 'site:.de', Quicksearches will save you a lot of time. To add a Quicksearch you just need to place the cursor on the Google search field (after you've submitted a query), right-click and select 'Add keyword for this search'. Enter your keyword, it could be 'de', and next time you need to google something in that domain, just type 'de [your term]'. I wrote an article in ProZ with some screenshots here (http://spedr.com/1q2qu).

Claudia Alvis

Erich Hegenberger said...

That's great, thanks for the tip! One search option I'd really like a shortcut for is the age of a hit - especially when I have problems with my computer (i.e. as often as I need to search for terminology), I like to look for solutions that are only a year or a month old, and I hate clicking all the advanced search buttons to get to it!

Claudia said...

You could use the Grease Monkey add-on with Google FX (http://spedr.com/35ilm). You can click on More Options in IE but Google FX is better because it adds icons to set the date of publication of the search results. I recently started a blog and I will be talking about Google FX, which is like Google on X.

Erich Hegenberger said...

Sounds good, looking forward to it! I recently disabled all my GM scripts to investigate a slowdown, and now they're all gone! :(