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Professor publishes articles on technical communication, translation projects

Published: 11 April 2013


Bruce Maylath, professor of English, has published two articles on technical communication and translation. One article highlights the partnerships formed by students in his International Technical Writing course with students in six other countries.

“Current Trends in Translation” appears in the most recent issue of the Denmark-based journal, Communication and Language at Work. It shows technical communicators and industry professionals how translators use machine translation technologies to expedite their work. 

“Managing Complexity: A Technical Communication/Translation Case Study in Multilateral International Collaboration” appears in the winter 2013 issue of Technical Communication Quarterly. Co-written with translation and usability testing instructors in Belgium, Denmark, Finland and France, the article describes innovations in fall 2010 that resulted in a complex international learning-by-doing project. NDSU’s International Technical Writing class wrote instructions, prepared them for translation, tested them in Fargo and then sent them to Vaasa University in Finland, where students ran their own usability tests with Finnish subjects accustomed to reading procedural texts in English. After revisions, the NDSU students sent their instructions to students at the University College Ghent in Belgium and the University of Paris – Denis Diderot for translation from English to Dutch and French, respectively.

Simultaneously, in a separate collaborative project, the students in Belgium and at Aarhus University in Denmark translated news articles from Dutch and Danish, respectively, into English for the NDSU students to edit for idiomatic American English.

In fall 2012, just before the 2013 Technical Communication Quarterly article’s publication, the most recent International Technical Writing class partnered with engineering students at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, located in Barcelona, Spain, to co-write instructions on engineering procedures. To test their instructions for usability, both in Fargo and Vaasa, the students needed access to engineering labs. With help from Gary Smith, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture, several members from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering made their labs available, including Subbaray Yuvaraja, professor; Roger Green, associate professor; Jeff Erickson, technician; and Jake Joraanstad, graduate student.

Revising their texts by referencing their usability test results, the co-authors worked with translation students not only in Ghent and Paris, but also at the University of Padua in Italy. They discussed how to accurately render the technical procedures in Dutch, French and Italian, respectively.

Again in 2012, the NDSU students collaborated simultaneously on a separate project in which the translators in Ghent, Paris and Padua each chose news articles to translate from Dutch, French or Italian. They then sent their translation to their NDSU partners to edit for idiomatic American English.

Maylath and his international partners are scheduled to deliver papers on their collaborative efforts at conferences in Rennes, France, in June; Vienna, Austria, in July; and Germersheim, Germany, in August.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013