A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!)

Ever wonder about that mysterious Content-Type tag? You know, the one you're supposed to put in HTML and you never quite know what it should be? I've been dismayed to discover just how many software developers aren't really completely up to speed on the mysterious world of character sets, encodings, Unicode, all that stuff.

Spolsky, Joel. Joel on Software (2003). Articles>Language>Standards>Unicode


An Academic Strikes Back: Transgressing the Genre of Bureaucracy

The rhetorical event described in this article shows that the rhetor can introduce an alien genre into a community of practice and createa kairotic moment.

Tachino, Tosh. Newsletter of the CASLL (2003). Articles>Language>Rhetoric


American Translators Association

Welcome to the American Translators Association. This site will help you learn more about the American Translators Association and the translation and interpretation professions. Please give us your feedback. Thanks for visiting ATA's Website.

ATA. Organizations>Language>Translation>Localization


Ask mb: What the TK?

Confused by wacky mag-world jargon? From the lede to the kicker, with a nut graf in between, here's mb's handy glossary.

Mitchell, Celeste. mediabistro.com (2003). Articles>Language>Publishing>Writing


Assessing Proficiency in Engineering English   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Though engineers around the world conduct their work in nearly every language on the planet, there are very few who never use English for some aspect of their job. The largest professional engineering organizations use English as their primary language; most of the world’s engineering publications are written in English; and nearly all cooperative ventures with multinational participation choose English for their common language of communication. Unfortunately, most of the world’s engineers are not native speakers of English and thus are considerably disadvantaged in professional terms.

Orr, Thomas. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (2002). Articles>Language>Assessment


Association of Translation Companies

Founded in 1976, the ATC is, perhaps, one of oldest professional groups representing the interests of translation companies in the world. It is dedicated not only to representing the interests of translation companies, but also to serving the needs of translation purchasers.

ATC. Organizations>Language>Localization


Authoring and Documentation Workflow Tools for Haitian Creole: A Minority Language

Although research has been conducted by several institutes on how to process written text for minority and vernacular languages, no academic research project thus far seems to have produced a usable, functional, authoring or translation tool for end-user native speakers of these types of languages. On the other hand, a set of software programs has been in the making for twenty years outside of academia.

Mason, Marilyn. TC-FORUM (2000). Articles>Language>Localization>Machine Translation


Automating the Acquisition of Bilingual Terminology   (peer-reviewed)

As the acquisition problem of bilingual lists of terminological expressions is formidable, it is worthwhile to investigate methods to compile such lists as automatically as possible. In this paper we discuss experimental results for a number of methods, which operate on corpora of previously translated texts.

van der Eijk, Pim. Association for Computational Linguistics (1993). Articles>Language>Linguistics


Babelfish: Real-Time Machine Translation on the Internet

On December 9, 1997, Digital Equipment Corporation and SYSTRAN A.G. launched AltaVista Translation Service, the first European language translation service for Web content. For the first time, non-English speaking users can translate information on the predominantly English speaking Web in real time.

Ament, Kurt. TC-FORUM (1998). Articles>Language>Localization>Machine Translation


Back to the Future: Instructional Practices and Discourse Values   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

When I think of writing-across-the curriculum—especially when asked to look toward the future, I am drawn to looking back to my initial involvement in WAC in the mid-1970's.

Herrington, Anne J. LLAD (1997). Articles>Language>Writing Across the Curriculum


Benchmarking Translation Agencies   (PDF)

Whether you are new at the translation business or a veteran of many globalization projects, a benchmarking study of your translation supplier(s) is a worthwhile endeavor. In benchmarking, you compare suppliers against one another based on specific criteria. The suppliers’ performance in the study can reassure you that your current relationship is a good one, or can lead to you a more compatible agency.

Finan, Jill. STC International TC SIG (2001). Articles>Language>Outsourcing>Translation


Benefits and Issues of Binary Localization

The process of localizing C/C++ Windows applications has evolved considerably over its relatively short life span. Due to the demands of fierce global markets, the localization industry has progressed from rather painful methods of localizing bulky and inconvenient source files to using highly sophisticated tools that allow for a quicker and considerably more efficient process of directly localizing binary files. Taking advantage of these localization tools and switching to a binary strategy has proven to provide many benefits that streamline and expedite the process of localization. The classic approach to localization involved translating hundreds of resource (RC) files and resizing dialogs using tools such as Microsoft Developer Studio. As newer builds of the same products started being released more frequently and translators' work became more repetitive, localizers started to take advantage of various translation database tools to help save translation time. While database tools with RC filters streamlined part of the translation process and allowed translators to begin their efforts sooner, it was still fairly tedious, time consuming, and error prone to resize graphical user interface elements separately for each build. Localizers therefore started to combine aspects of translation database technology and visual editing into tools focused exclusively on software localization. Currently, the localization industry is taking its next evolutionary step; leaving behind a tiresome and time consuming RC-based process for the quicker and cleaner process of directly localizing precompiled binary modules. Today's advanced localization tools promise to provide integrated localization solutions that allow translators and engineers to work directly with binaries saving enormous amounts of time and effort.

Syed, Sarosh. SDL International. Articles>Language>Localization>Software


The Best Machine

Several weeks ago, a supercilious colleague informed me that spell checkers and grammar checkers had rendered editors and proofreaders obsolete. When I attempted to explain that electronic grammar and spelling checkers are not reliable because they yield false negatives and false positives, she disagreed strongly. I went on to further explain that language is more complex than any computer can fathom, and that until artificial intelligence truly arrives, the best grammar checking program will continue to live between our ears. I am sorry to say that my colleague arrogantly declared that I was mistaken. I wrote the verse below in her honor.

Kasper, Rosa. MetroVoice (2002). Articles>Language>Word Processing


A Bomb or a Tobacco Pipe?

A good understanding of the subject matter or the access to a specialist is an important element in technical writing and translation. It is a quality issue that I don’t believe too many people in the business would dispute. In Brazil, however, the creation and translation of technical material has increasingly become a problem exactly because this factor is being overlooked.

Destro, Delio. TC-FORUM (1999). Articles>Language>Localization


Borders Are Not Barriers: Running a Multilingual Tech Pubs Competition   (PDF)

This presentation is aimed at all those who would like to either participate in a Technical Publications Competition in a language other than English or organize multilingual Technical Publications in their chapter. And we hope you will! We briefly describe why and how we came to organize multilingual competition in the France Chapter. There is some practical information but feel free to ask us questions. We will do our best to answer you.

O'Neill, Jennifer and Patricia McClelland. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Language>Assessment


Building Language Theory   (PDF)

Technical communicators need information about the nature and uses of language. Developing a working theory of language helps technical communicators conceptualize the qualities of good technical writing. Theory development and its application are especially important considering how rapidly technology changes the nature, function, and means of technical communication.

Fink, Bonnie L. and Gary M. Heba. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Language>Theory


But, Having Said That, ...

A persistent rule of thumb in the programming trade is the 80/20 rule: '80 percent of the useful work is performed by 20 percent of the code.' As with gas mileage, your performance statistics may vary, and given the mensurational vagaries of body parts such as thumbs (unless you take the French pouce as an exact nonmetric inch), you may prefer a 90/10 partition of labor. With some of the bloated code-generating meta-frameworks floating around, cynics have suggested a 99/1 rule—if you can locate that frantic 1 percent. Whatever the ratio, the concept has proved useful in performance tuning.

Kelly-Bootle, Stan. Queue (2006). Articles>Language>History>Minimalism


Buying Maturity in Localization

The first time I heard about maturity models was when Lionbridge acquired an organization in India that was operating under CMM Level 5 certification. CMM, I learned, stands for Capability Maturity Model and is a framework that describes how organizations define and refine their key process areas. The framework, developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, defines five different levels of process maturity, of which Level 5 (“optimizing") is the highest achievable level.

Esselink, Bert. GALAxy Newsletter (2006). Articles>Language>Localization


Buzzwords vs. Benefits

Buzzwords obscure, confuse, or evade. Benefits sell products and ideas. If you use too many buzzwords too often, most educated audiences will conclude you lack the ability to be clear, truthful, or direct. Never assume everyone understands your esoteric language. If you don't know what you're doing, stop doing it. If you do know, state it clearly and simply.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Communication>Business Communication>Language


Can Many Agents Answer Questions Better than One?   (peer-reviewed)

The paper addresses the issue of how online natural language question answering, based on deep semantic analysis, may compete with currently popular keyword search, open domain information retrieval systems, covering a horizontal domain. We suggest the multiagent question answering approach, where each domain is represented by an agent which tries to answer questions taking into account its specific knowledge. The meta–agent controls the cooperation between question answering agents and chooses the most relevant answer(s). We argue that multiagent question answering is optimal in terms of access to business and financial knowledge, flexibility in query phrasing, and efficiency and usability of advice. The knowledge and advice encoded in the system are initially prepared by domain experts. We analyze the commercial application of multiagent question answering and the robustness of the meta–agent. The paper suggests that a multiagent architecture is optimal when a real world question answering domain combines a number of vertical ones to form a horizontal domain.

Galitsky, Boris and Rajesh Pampapathi. First Monday (2005). Articles>Language>Information Design>Semantic


CAT Tools: A View from the Translation Company's Perspective

We've all heard a lot about Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools over the last few years. We've also heard some of the war stories as well. But let's take a look from a different angle ' from the perspective of today's middle-market translation and localization service companies (TCs for short). We CAT tool providers spend a lot of time talking about the benefits to the translator, perhaps at the risk of missing some of those that are particularly important to a TC. Re-using previously translated materials (or leveraging as we like to call it) can be a very important factor in reducing the cost and increasing the consistency of translation. But it turns out that there are a number of other features in today's tools that are particularly helpful for TCs. I'm going to describe them in terms of two of the tools we are involved with, although others have some of these features as well.

Briggs, Brian M. SDL International. Articles>Language>Localization>Software


Caterpillar Technical English and Automatic Machine Translation   (PDF)   (members only)

Caterpillar is developing an Automatic Machine Translation (AMT) system for translating product support literature into eleven languages. Source language authors write in Caterpillar Technical English (CTE) which uses a constrained English language domain and sophisticated spelling, lexical, grammar and disambiguation software. CTE tools are accessed through pull down menus in the author's text editor. Integrating the source language author into the translations process using CTE has allowed the development of the AMT system which completely eliminates the need for human post-editing of the translated service literature.

Gallup, Sharlene. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Language>Translation>Machine Translation


The Center for the Art of Translation

The Center for the Art of Translation is committed to giving voice to great world writing by publishing fresh English translations alongside the original language text. We seek to promote world literature--with its power to move, inform, and inspire--and provide a window into the cultures that produce it.

CAT. Organizations>Language>Translation


Review: CEO-Speak: The Language of Corporate Leadership   (members only)

The Language of Corporate Leadership is a study of the written discourse of CEOs that is found in annual reports, corporate Web sites, congressional testimonies, and employee newsletters. The book contains 10 case studies of CEOs' writings from past and present megacorporations, including Enron, General Electric, Microsoft, Disney, and AOL. The organizations covered in the book represent both new and old economies and include two Canadian companies and a public-sector company. The authors, Joel Amernic and Russell Craig, are accounting and business professors and appropriately focus on accounting and financial reporting aspects of CEOs' written discourse.

Dave, Anish M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Reviews>Business Communication>Language


Character Assassination

The written language of China has the potential to create new international dialogue. But will the endangered script survive long enough to do it?

Pomerinke, Tracy. Writer's Block (2001). Articles>Language>Regional>China



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