Not a Patent!

I don’t know how they do it — ordinary translators that is. I had to translate some draft technical specifications (as in, specs, as opposed to a spec) today for a device that shall remain nameless. I say “remain” nameless because that’s the way it started out. I got 11 pages of technical description and a model number, but no hint as to what the device was and, of course, no helpful sections like, “Technical Field” or “Background.” Nor did I have the option of looking up the patent family. Nothing! Nada! Just a bunch of words on a piece of paper.

In the end I figured out what the mystery device was by Googling combinations of terms used in the document until I hit on a class of device that matched the description, but golly gee willikers — as Donald Rumsfeld would say — that sure is a lot of work.

And then there is this business of the author saying things that are not explict and surrounded by comforting redundant phrases. And no reference numerals!

I understand that I am spoiled, what I cannot figure out is why the gates to the patent translation specialization are not overrun by eager candidates fleeing the field of general technical translation.

Martin Cross
Japanese Patent Translation

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