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German Scientific-Technical-Medical Translation (GER 61251)

Class Time and Place:
W, 1:10-3:40 pm, Satterfield 311 (Section 001)
Sue Ellen Wright
Office: Satterfield 306-E    
Tel: 330-672-2438    
Home Tel.: 330-678-2829
Office Hours:    T: 2:15-4:15 W: 4:00-5:00; H: 2:00-4:00; or by appointment.
Note that the 4:00-4:25 Thursday is NOT reserved for office hours. This time is needed for class preparation and setup.

Course Description and Outcomes

The course will concentrate on the translation of a variety of scientific, technical and medical texts, with special emphasis on the types of texts most generally translated by working translators. Students will prepare translation exercises for each class period. Special emphasis will be placed on the identification of parallel texts and the maintenance of translation-oriented terminology files.
Anticipated outcomes include:

   1. Text analysis and term recognition
   2. Analysis & comparison of styles and knowledge organization between German and English sci/tech texts
   3. Awareness of terminological and stylistic issues related to sci/tech genre:
          * Scholarly scientific articles
          * Popular science articles
          * Medical articles of various registers
          * Technical documentation
          * Patents
   4. Acquiring subject field familiarity on an ad hoc basis via focused research and information retrieval
   5. Creation of small supportive parallel corpora in a variety of subject areas
   6. Assessment of reliability of "found" texts in terms of content, terminology, and style
   7. Editing and proofreading the work of others
   8. Coordinating group projects and working as team members (PM, Terminologist, Editor, final compiler, etc.) in a group project
   9. Use of translation tools, specifically ad hoc, text-related approaches to terminology management using MultiTermTM, use of WorkbenchTM and/or Tag EditorTM
  10. Self-analysis of the translation process via translation logs
  11. Adhering to work procedures (=getting files to the instructor on time before class!)
  12. Producing higher volume translation

Textbooks and supplemental materials
Selected readings and texts for translation will be distributed to students over the course of the semester.
Required reading:
Hans J. Vermeer, "Skopos and Commission in Translational Action,"  in: Venuti & Baker, The Translation Studies Reader
ASTM F2576-06:  "Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation"
Delisle, Jean, et al. Translation Terminology. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1999.
Translation Assignments
Weekly translation assignments, with approximately biweekly deliverables
Group translation project (factored into the translation passages grade)
In-class exercises
Final project
    Student activity     % of Grade
1.     Class participation     20%
2.     Translation & editing passages     55%
3.     Final project     25%
These percentages translate into 100 points for the entire semester. A = 91 Points; A- = 90 Points; B+ = 89 Points; B = 81 Points; B- = 80 Points

Translation Workflow

Weekly translation assignments in four or five week cycle:

Week 1 - Introduce text, analyze terminology
Explore options for parallel texts and specialized dictionaries
Week 2 - During class: discuss parallel texts stored in the "corpus" for the assignment; review terminology with the rest of the class
Week 3 - NO LATER THAN 9:00 on class days, send draft translation for that day's workshopping to Workshop text in class, taking notes on discussion.
Week 4 - Workshop text (if need be), or turn in finished translation
Week 5 - Deliver finished translation

There will be adjustments for the first two weeks of the semester until the sequence is established. There may be some variations in the strict adherence to a 4-week sequence based on special conflicts in the schedule.

Students are to prepare translation exercises for discussion during each class period. Draft translations must be emailed to the instructor no later than 9:00 of any given class day when the text in question is to be workshopped. There will be a deduction of 50% in the participation grade for individual assignments in the event that files are not posted in a timely manner.

Completed translations are due no later than one week after a workshopping session has been completed (see syllabus and semester calendar), delivered by email attachments to:

All deliverables should include:  

   1. The translated text submitted as an email attachment.
   2. A translation log. The translation log documents all major problems encountered during translation, with explanations for strategies adopted. Bibliographical references and links to the corresponding URLs should be recorded in the log file. This file should be attached at the end of your translation file so that when you are finished there is just one Word file. (See sample logs in the LAN folder.)
   3. The subset of terminology pertinent to a given project should be included as an rtf Word dictionary file submitted with the email transmission of the finished translation.

File names: Each text has a code name (see syllabus). Each member of the class should select the set of initials s/he intends to use as an identifier (e.g., Jane Anastasia Doe might be "JAD."). Jane's draft translation for the draft of a text named Knie would be named: jad-knie-draft.doc.  Her final version would be named The final version, which includes the target text and the log in one file, should be zipped together with the terminology output file and titled: Be sure to send the correct version when you submit a text as the final draft! Any texts that are mis-sent and that are actually evaluated will be counted as the final version. Almost every year someone messes up and sends an incorrect version. Keep track of your versions and avoid errors!
All email deliverables must use the following subject line format to ensure they will be sorted properly:

GER 61251 Drehmoment draft Doe
GER 61251 Ökosystem final Doe
Holding to the Syllabus

1) Barring unusual circumstances (weather cancellations, etc.), all assignments will be due on the date stated on the syllabus, whether they have been completely workshopped or not. In determining the grade, more weight will be given to those segments of the text that have actually been workshopped, but non-treated text will also have some bearing on the grade, depending on the amount of material not covered in class. Plus points will be awarded for especially successful translations of non-workshopped materials. It is possible that not all parts of a text will be evaluated, but an effort will be made to return texts in a timely fashion.

Finished translations that are not returned on time will be subject to a 50% reduction in grade. You cannot afford to be late either on drafts or on finished translations! Failure to turn in a finished translation on time will also result in the draft being evaluated in lieu of the finished translation, further reducing the likely grade.

2) Since it is in everyone's interest to use class time efficiently, class will start promptly, regardless how many people are in the room. As noted above, files that are not available by 9:00 on a class day will result in a diminished participation grade for the project. With just two people in the class, we all have to be well prepared and try to avoid unannounced absences. If one of us has to be absent, we can try to reschedule class (within reason).   

3) Everyone (including the instructor!) is encouraged to use class time as efficiently as possible. Non-class-related topics and personal concerns should, if possible, be discussed during office hours, or, if a topic concerns the whole group, at the end of class.
4) It is anticipated that students will use their terminals to process their texts during class and that they may on occasion check Internet resources as well. All other extraneous use of computers is to be discouraged. Focus on in-class workshopping is very critical to success in this course. Working on other projects or doing email, for instance, can seriously jeopardize your participation grade.

Translations will be evaluated on the basis of the ATA guidelines and the Framework for Error Marking..

All translations will be graded as a group in order to ensure fairness and consistency in grading. Therefore it is highly critical that all work be submitted according to deadline. There is no guarantee that materials that are submitted late will be reviewed in a timely fashion.
Terminology and Translation Log

Students will be required to maintain a terminology file over the course of the semester. This file should document the terms that occur in the texts treated in the course. It is suggested that students include any documentation that they have to support choices and strategies, but it is not required that the file represent a "full-blown" terminology file, with complete contexts or definitions for all records. It will be a working file such as a translator creates "on-the-fly" in order to record good solutions as they come along. Subject references are essential in order to sort the file, however, and short contexts are highly desirable insofar as they are available. The terminology for each assignment should be completed by the time each assignment is handed in so that it can be checked.

Translation Log  

A brief log of important problems encountered in each assignment should be submitted as well. See the description at the end of the syllabus for pointers on maintaining a translation log.

Failure to complete the terminology for or submit the log with an assignment can result in a 10% reduction in the grade for that assignment (or expressed in other terms, in a reduction of one letter grade). By the same token, doing these items conscientiously can have a similar positive effect.
Translation Texts
Text 1: Isoliergefässe
Text 2: Berst-Prüfstand
Text 3: Ökosysteme: Aufbau, Funktionen, Störungen
Text 4: Somatische Stammzellen des zentrallen Nervensystems
Text 5: Group project: Self-HTML, XML
Text 6: Veröffentlichung Produktion: Drehmoment-Messung in der automatischen Montage
Text 7: Beschreibung: Sanitäre Einrichtung für Katzen (Katzentoilette)
Text 8:  Medical research text: Prions
Workflow Schedule
    Introductory & Preparatory   
Topics     In-class Workshopping  
Deliverables Due
KW 1

    Introduction: Berst-Prüfstand  Presentation of materials for a later class: Ökosysteme
General class instructions
Instructions on dictionaries and other resources  
Collecting background and parallel texts; preparing termniology
Reading assignment: Vermeer     Discussion of texts
Sight translation of Isoliergefässe, keyboarding as you go; group discussion of the text
Creation of terminology files
Deliverables: Submission of a final version to as a collaborative class project at the end of class
KW 2
    Resource discussion: Ökosysteme
Introduction: Medical Texts: Stammzellen      Discuss Vermeer & Skopos theory
Workshop: Berst-Prüfstand
KW 3
    Resource discussion: Ökosysteme
Introduction: Drehmoment  
Reading assignment: ASTM F2576-06     Workshop: Finish Berst-Prüfstand
                  Start workshopping Ökosysteme

KW 4
    Resource discussion:  Stammzellen
    Discuss:  ASTM F2576-06
Workshop:  Ökosysteme
Deliverable: Berst-Prüfstand
KW 5
    Resource discussion:  Drehmoment
Discuss editing procedures, distribute editing file for Berst-Prüfstand     Discuss:  ASTM F2576-06
Finish:  Ökosysteme
Deliverable: Berst-Prüfstand edit file
KW 6
    Introduction: Katzenklo      Workshop:  Stammzellen
 Deliverable: Ökosysteme
KW 7

    Resource discussion Patents
    Workshop: Stammzellen
Report your choice of special project; drafts welcome any time!
KW 8
    (SEW in Vienna; reschedule)
Resource discussion: Katzenklo terminology
      Workshop: Drehmoment
Deliverable: Stammzellen
KW 9
    (SEW in Seattle; reschedule)
Introduction: Medical Texts: Prions     Discussion:  Group Project
Workshop: Drehmoment

KW 10     11/05*     (ATA Conference; reschedule?)
Resource discussion: BSE
    Workshop: Katzenklo
Deliverable: Drehmoment\
KW 11
    Distribute editing file for Drehmoment
    Workshop:  Katzenklo
First draft of final project due

KW 12

           Workshop: Prions (BSE)
 Deliverable: Katzenklo
KW 13
     Turkey Day -- No Class, but edit files are due     Deliverable: Drehmoment Edit Files

KW 14
          Workshop: Prions (BSE)

Deliverable: Group Project
KW 15
          Sight translation
Deliverable: Prions

          Deliverables: Final Projects  
Editing Projects
After the final versions of the Berstprüfstand and the Drehmoment texts have been submitted to the instructor, students will receive versions of these translations for editing using standard grading criteria and the Word "Track Changes" procedures similar to those used by the instructor in evaluating their passages. These edited copies will be discussed briefly in class and submitted as deliverables.
Group Project
The group will work together to translate selections taken from the Web pages that reside in the "SELFHTMLFiles" sub-directory within the 61251 Folder under Grads on the G Drive.  [Posting subject to change, depending on what the Powers that Be actually do with the so-called Grads drive]

   1. The group will select a project leader who is responsible for serving as project manager for the project.
   2. The project leader, with the consensus of the group, will assign support tasks to the group, such as terminology management, subject research, etc.
   3. Each person will be responsible for translating approximately 600 words in the initial pass. Ideally, the text should be translated using TagEditor.
   4. Each text segment should be reviewed by at least two people in the group.
   5. Students should schedule a group meeting or meetings to review and harmonize terminology and resolve editing issues.
   6. Any additional outstanding questions can be discussed briefly on March 21 (1/2 hour class time allotted for this purpose)
   7. The final harmonized version is due April 12.


   1. Final translated, fully localized "web-ready" text
   2. Terminology file
   3. Log
   4. Project management chart & report

Final Project
Translation of 2000 words representing a self-contained section of a technical article on a subject of the student's own choosing. Delivery deadline: Wednesday of Finals Week.
Deliverables: First draft due by email file transfer: 11/07;
final version: email file transfer of translation file and log together with the terminology file for the final project, 12/12.
Translation Log
Keeping a Translation Log

Students are required to maintain a translation log as they prepare your weekly assignments and the semester project. The following procedures are recommended. It is also a requirement to maintain a log as the basis for writing the critical analysis for the Translation Case study. The easiest way to maintain a log is to create a second Word file containing a table documenting the problems you encounter and your proposed solutions. When you have finished your translation and are ready to submit the final draft, insert the log at the end of the translation so that you have a single text file.
Content and timing of the log

As you analyze the problems inherent in your project and begin to gather parallel texts or other materials, include information in your log on these problems and on your parallel texts. Analyze the document to determine the precise text type or types that are involved and define your target audience, the appropriate register for you finished text, etc. Include this information as an introductory paragraph in the log, prior to your table or enumeration of individual terminology or problem points. As you encounter special translation problems (terminology, syntax, register, whatever), make notes on these difficulties by describing or stating the specific problem you have encountered. Once you have solved one of these problems, think through what sort of solution you used (for instance, literal translation, transformation, etc. Use the information you have on translation strategies and the terminology you are familiar with from Translation Terminology). For weekly assignments, your log will probably not amount to more than a page or two. For the semester project, include documentation on those items that become the subject of serious concern or discussion with the professor, and prepare at least a two page summary documenting your approach to the translation, special issues involved in this particular translation, and the solutions your arrived at. For the Case Study, your log serves as raw material for a 25-page essay detailing the critical features of your translation, of the text type, and other relevant information in addition to a discussion of special problems or aspects of the translation.

Example: Als man lernte, aus Kautschuk Gummi zu machen . . .

Problem: both Kautschuk and Gummi can commonly be translated as "rubber."

This is apparently a case of neutralization going from German into English. The Ernst dictionary defines Kautschuk as "unvulcanized rubber," and Gummi as "vulcanized rubber." It sounds silly to write: "When scientists learned how to make vulcanized rubber out of unvulcanized rubber . . ." Examination of various resources on industrial materials indicates that vulcanized rubber is produced by mixing raw rubber with certain ingredients and "cooking" the resulting compound. Hence one can write "When scientists learned how to make vulcanized rubber out of raw rubber . . ." or "When scientists learned how to vulcanize raw rubber . . ." (Example of combined implicitation and explicitation to compensate for neutralization in English.)

Sample logs: Knie1 and Knie2

Maintain your terminology file as you do your translation and refer back to it if you need to refresh your memory as you go along.The purpose behind doing the file is to create it as you go along so you have a working tool, not after you finish your translation! This is particularly important when you work on your final project. Especially for your weekly work, you don’t have to do more than document terms, contexts and sources, plus your subject field reference. This is not a formal terminology project such as you would do for the Terminology class or for a case study. For the Case Study, you will produce a fully documented Terminology file with all data fields filled in wherever possible.

Policy on Incompletes and Absences

This is a performance class, and members all contribute to the synergy of the workshopping experience. Each student is expected to have completed translation passages prior to the discussion of each passage, to submit this passage according to instructions, and to participate fully in workshop sessions for the purpose of arriving at an optimum text for each translation assignment. Students will be assigned participation grades that will contribute to the calculation of the overall course grade.

The only conditions under which an incomplete can be granted is serious illness in the latter part of the semester. At least 2/3 of the course work must have been completed satisfactorily prior to the request for an incomplete, and there must be clear evidence of illness to qualify. Students requesting an incomplete and meeting these criteria must also sign a contract obligating them to complete the unfinished work according to specific conditions. It is the official policy of the College of Arts and Sciences that all incompletes regardless of cause or conditions be completed by the end of the following calendar semester.
Statement on Academic Dishonesty
All students shall familiarize themselves with the Statement on Academic Dishonesty and shall conform to the ethical standards established in this policy.
Students with Disabilities
University Policy 3342-3-18 requires that students with disabilities be provided reasonable accommodations to ensure that they obtain equal access to course content. If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments. Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through Student Disability Services (SDS) (contact 330-672-3391 or visit for more information on registration procedures.
Respectful Student Conduct
The Department of Modern and Classical Language Studiees follows University regulations regarding student behavior in the classroom. It is expected that each student will be respectful to the instructor as well as to fellow classmates.

Use of profanity, rudeness toward fellow students or the instructor, angry outbursts, refusal to participate in classroom activities, repeated tardiness, and leaving the classroom prior to class dismissal are just some examples of disruptive behavior. The instructor will ask the disruptive student to cease and desist and will inform the student of possible supension and/or dismissal from class.