Characteristics of English for Professional Purpose
Engaged in translation for several years, however, I never troubled myself in summarizing or writing something about my work, what a shame! Always occupied, I seldom spared any time to review. Fortunately, since joining CCJK, I have formed a habit of sharing experience with my colleagues immediately after completing each assignment. Undeniably, it’s of great significance for us to make more progress.
The first project I accepted from CCJK is concerned with the translation of bank records. Luckily enough, in this era of rapid economic development, we are no longer outsiders of banks, and more and more banking services are emerging and popular among the masses. Personally, I have been an online banking customer of Agricultural Bank of China for many years and quite familiar with all sorts of service they provided, such as, time deposit, inter-bank transfer, intra-city deposit as well as fund management. Therefore, the items in these bank records are easily understood.
It’s known to all, every field has its own glossary and terminology, so we should familiarize ourselves with these special terms and phrases first before starting translation. Now, let’s discuss the characteristics of English for professional purpose together.
Firstly, in specialized vocabulary, some words and phrases exclusively belong to a certain professional field and come with clear definition and narrow sense. Taking banking sector for example, the word “interest（利息）” refers to the price paid for the use of borrowed money or money earned by deposited funds, and “beneficiary (受益人)” is the person who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. In addition, there are also such words as “account (账户)”, “check (支票)” and “balance (余额)” etc.. It’s indeed a big job to memorize these words.
Secondly, compared with the general items, the words for professional purpose come with various meaning, are flexibly used and applied widely. Therefore, we should be equipped with some professional knowledge and accurately grasp the meaning of a word in general sense and shared by other fields so as to figure out the corresponding meaning according to the context. It’s irresponsible to treat a word with professional purpose as a common one, or impose a general term with professional use. It’s absolutely forbidden to take a wild guess during translation. For instance, “withdrawal” is translated into “撤退” in daily life but “取款” in banking service, “reversal” means “冲正” instead of “逆转”, and settlement “结算” instead of “处理”. However, there are also some terms commonly applied with the same meaning, such as, “receipt (收据)”, “credit card (信用卡)”, “branch (支行)” and so on.
Thirdly, some terms are derivatives, abbreviation, compounded or transformed from other common words. With the development of science and technology and the widening of knowledge as well as the rising of new disciplines, new field and new creations, the connotation and extension of English vocabulary for professional purpose has been constantly broadened. It is in favor of comprehending and memorizing words to be fully acquainted with the common word formation processes, which mainly include the following ones:
1) Compounding. It is the word formation that creates compound lexemes and refers to the faculty and device of language to form new words by combining or putting together old words, and the compound word contains the meaning of the old ones, for example, transfer-from account (转出账户), transfer-in account (转入账户), transfer-from bank (转出银行) and transfer-in bank (转入银行). But sometimes, the meaning will also undergo a minor change, so we should pay attention to it during translation.
2) Blending. It is an action of forming a new with parts of two or more other words. Many words in scientific and technological English are made with this process. The meaning of the new word also comes from the old ones. For example, the intra-city deposit (同城存款), inter-bank withdrawal (跨行取款) and sub-branch (分行), etc..
3) Abbreviation. It is a shortened form of a word or phrase and usually consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. It’s quite common in English for science and technology. In banking sector, there are also such cases, like, FX (foreign exchange外汇), A/C (account 账户), ATM (automatic teller machine 自动取款机), T/T (Telegraphic Transfer 电汇) and so forth.
4) English for professional purpose always contains theoretical analysis, formula derivation and research methods, containing complicate content and enormous information. During translation, we have to increase or reduce the meaning or rhetoric of some words so as to make the expressions more readily comprehensible and logical. In case of some phrases can’t be translated literally, we should make a detailed analysis on the extensional use of the term according to the context and its logical relations. Of course, we should also be familiar with the different customs of language expression of both Chinese and English, and transform the general terms in the original language into the specific one in the targeted language.
In all, it’s a long course of accumulation in study and work. Besides sentence processing, we should pay close attention to word use in different fields and have a good command in choosing accurate words for different projects, which requires for extensive reading. It’s no wonder there is no end of learning for translators, indeed we have a long way to go.
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