Translation Annotated Bibliography

Amant, K.S. (2003). Designing effective writing-for-translation intranet sites. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 46 (1). 55-62.

The author proposes a design for an intranet site that provides technical writers with information and training about writing for translation. The intent of the site is to cut translation costs by reducing the amount of time that translators spend reviewing documents and querying authors for clarification. The author also discusses current gaps between the work and knowledge of writers and translators, and then takes a systems theory approach to developing the site so that site designers can observe how writing and translating can interact.

Doumont, J.-L. (2002). Translation 101: myths and realities. In Proceedings from IPCC 2002: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 2002. 46-50.

This article discusses and debunks some common misconceptions about translation of products: 1) translation is a sentence-level task that any native speaker can complete; 2) translation software applications can produce adequate first drafts in target languages; and 3) only native speakers can manage target language translation, editing, and proofreading. The article also provides guidelines for coordinating successful translation projects, which include treating translation as rewriting in another language, assigning individuals with the appropriate skills for each task (translation, editing, proofreading), and applying quality control measures.

Eriksson, M. (2005). How to save time and money by connecting the writing process to the update and translation process. In Proceedings from IPCC 2005: International Professional Communication Conference, 2005. 840-845.

This paper explains the impact of document changes when using translation memory tools, such as Trados Translator’s Workbench. It also provides editing guidelines to technical communicators that, when employed with a translation memory tool, can help to control translation costs.

Iverson, S.P. (2002). Content management beyond English. In Proceedings from IPCC 2002: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 2002. 446-449.

This article discusses how one company developed a single, collaborative content development process that involves both technical writers and translators. The company found that by creating English content in a new way and using a content management system, they produced a better product with accurate translations.

Flint, P. et al (1999). Going online: Helping technical communicators help translators. Technical Communication, 46 (2), 238-248.

In most cases if a source document is not written with translation in mind, translation costs can escalate. Writers/designers can, though, help reduce the translators’ cognitive load by supporting them in solving language and cultural problems. In this article, the authors explain why technical communicators should help translators, and they offer some tips to creating “translation friendly” documentation. The article also describes the research and design process involved in creating an online tutorial on writing and designing for translation that can help translation professionals make the translation process work more smoothly.

Kerans, M.E. (2005). Project management and quality assurance in cover-to-cover translation of a medical journal. In Proceedings from IPCC 2005: International Professional Communication Conference, 2005. 220-236.

This paper provides a translation project case study of a medical journal that began publishing in English (source) and Spanish (target). The author discusses the development of the project, quality assurance and culture concerns, and a number of linguistic challenges to bilingual publication.

Kohl, J. (1999). Improving translatability and readability with syntactic cues. Technical Communication, 46 (2), 149-166.

More and more technical writing is being translated from English into dozens of languages for use worldwide by readers who have varying degrees of fluency in English. More and more technical documents are translated using computer-assisted or machine translation and are then post-edited by human translators whose first language usually is not English. As a result, more than ever before, technical writers need to be aware of syntactic ambiguity to ensure the most accurate, timely, and cost-effective translation. This article explores an approach to writing unambiguously that is based on research from several disciplines. In addition to facilitating translation, the syntactic cues approach improves the readability of technical documents for both native and nonnative readers of English.

This article discusses considerations for integrating the syntactic cues approach into established documentation processes and also provides a procedure that helps technical writers learn to use syntactic cues effectively on their own.

Melton, J.H. (2008). Lost in translation: Professional communication competencies in global training contexts. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 51 (2). 198-214.

The author provides the case study of a global training team that worked in collaboration with translators. He suggests that collaboration of writers, translators, and localization experts encourages understanding of cultural and professional contexts, improves research methods, and develops communication competencies.  (Winner of the Rudolph J. Joenk, Jr., Award for Best Paper Published in IEEE-PCS Transactions, 2008.)

Ray, D. & Ray, E. (1999). Good, fast, cheap: Translation memory systems offer the potential for all three. Technical Communication, 46 (2), 280-285.

This article examines emerging technologies of interest to technical communicators to help them identify those that are worthy of further investigation. It is intended neither as an endorsement of any technology or product, nor as a recommendation to purchase. The opinions expressed by the column editors are their own and do not represent the views of the Society for Technical Communication.

St. Amant, K. (2000). Expanding translation use to improve the quality of technical communication. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 43 (3). 323-326.

The author suggests that, because non-English speakers are contributing more and more to many scientific and technical fields, technical communicators must rethinking how they view and use translation so that they remain effective in a global marketplace. The article examines the prominence of English in scientific and technical communication and the potential language barriers for English-only communicators. It then provides guidelines for incorporating the translation process into the writing process to produce better source and translated documentation.

St Germaine-Madison, N. (2006). Instructions, visuals, and the English-speaking bias of technical communication. Technical Communication, 53 (2), 184-194.

This study assessed the quantity and quality of Spanish translations in user manuals written in the United States for electronic products within a five-year period. While it is not reasonable to offer culturally appropriate translations for every language and cultural group represented in the United States, recent immigration patterns from Mexico strongly suggest a growing need for accurate translation into Spanish. This article first discusses why there is a need for culturally-appropriate Spanish translations in user manuals for electronic products, how cultural differences can affect perceptions of technical communication in other cultures, and the role that the technical communicator can play in making translations more culturally appropriate. Next, the article discusses the assessment of 60 user manuals for electronic products. The findings of this study indicate that much more work needs to be done in the area of localization and translation to make the Spanish language versions of the manuals usable for a Mexican or Mexican-American audience.

Walmer, D. (1999). One company’s efforts to improve translation and localization. Technical Communication, 46 (2), 230-237

This author describes the lengths her company went to improve the quality and processes of localization and translation. Common problems existed in the areas of lack of standardization in tools and processes between offices and writers, lack of in-country review processes, terminology management, universalist attitudes, and redundant work output. Based around the development of common visions, goals, and strategies between the technical writing and translation departments, successful solutions included more collaboration, a global, component and document management system integrated with translations, based on an SGML/XML database, and the construction of a global translation memory database.

This article provides an excellent example of how companies can improve their global translation and localization strategies, from which many translation professionals could gain constructive insights.


Hofmann, P. (2007). Localising and internationalising graphics and visual information commentary. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 50 (2). 91-92.

This article discusses the use of internationalized visuals to reduce word count and maximize usability in information products. The author explains that developers of internationalized products need to consider highly graphic information to help communicate effectively to local audiences.

Humbley, J.; Maylath, B.; Mousten, B.; Vandepitte, S.; Veisblat, L. (2005). Learning localization through trans-Atlantic collaboration. In Proceedings from IPCC 2005: International Professional Communication Conference, 2005. 578-595.

The article describes a six-year project in which American technical writing students and European language translation students collaborated on technical communication assignments. Findings suggest that quality of both source and translated materials improve when writing and translation processes are collaborative.

Ledet, D.; Bailie, R.A. (2005). Following the road untraveled: from source language to translation to localization. In Proceedings from IPCC 2005: International Professional Communication Conference, 2005. 32-39.

This case study discusses one company’s journey towards creating a globalized product. The author pays specific attention to the technical communication team’s efforts, which included aligning existing content to support an international audience and understanding the differences between translation and localization.

Maitra, K.; Goswami, D. (1995). Responses of American readers to visual aspects of a mid-sized Japanese company’s annual report: a case study. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 38 (4). 197-203.

This article examines the responses by American readers to the visual aspects of a Japanese company’s translated annual report. The authors question the cultural sensitivity of American document design processes and usability testing procedures, and call for further collaborative research to improve practices in international settings.

Sapienza, P. (2004). Nurturing translocal communication: Russian immigrants on the World Wide Web. Technical Communication, 48 (4), 435-448.

Immigrant web pages reflect the rise of a new kind of intercultural communication that mediates interaction between local and global culture not through polarization but through mixture and hybridization. Immigrant communities online are translocal, providing resources for specific towns and cities as well as for a global immigrant population. Many web designers have little knowledge of this kind of “global-speak: for this type of website, yet such knowledge is important for designers encountering a world that is increasingly mobile and transnational.

This article analyzes the rhetorical content on Russian-American immigrant web pages. Rather than treating Russian and non-Russian identity as separate entities, Russian immigrant pages often blur distinctions between the different cultures. While the results of this analysis are limited to Russian-American immigrant sites, they can nonetheless inspire additional research about how other groups create transnational culture in cyberspace.

Strother, J.B. (2002). Preparing material for the international marketplace: more than technical localization required. In Proceedings from IPCC 2002: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 2002. 51-59.

The author presents a case study in which a web-based distance learning program was designed for an international and culturally diverse audience. The discussion focuses on content localization issues that present technical communicators with many subtle challenges to making material linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target audience.

Thayer, A. and Kolko, B. (2004). Localization of digital games:The process of blending for the global games market. Technical Communication, 51 (4), 477-488.

Digital games are a global, multibillion dollar industry, yet few standards exist for the localization of games for different cultures. By contrast, the process of localizing productivity applications follows a relatively well-defined set of guidelines, with which many technical communicators are familiar. The localization processes for digital games, however, can follow one of three levels of complexity, none of which are formally articulated. This article focuses on the most challenging and potentially effective form of digital game localization, known as blending. Blending involves the alteration of the central storyline of a game to make the game more successful in other countries. The authors believe that technical and professional communicators should learn more about blending, digital game localization, and their place within the burgeoning game industry.


Barnum, C. et al (2001). Globalizing technical communication: A field report from China. Technical Communication, 48 (4), 397-420.

An international delegation of technical communication faculty presented a 10-day technical writing institute to university faculty throughout Jiangsu Province, China. Believing it to be the first official education and training in technical communication for university faculty in China, the instructors wanted to communicate both technical communication concepts and Western teaching concepts to expose the EFL (English as Foreign Language) teachers to new ways of teaching new material. The experience was enlightening, enriching, rewarding, and stimulating from cultural, international, and technical communication perspectives. This article presents the background leading up to the technical writing institute, a review of the literature on the subject, the history and current status of technical communication in China, and the institute plan and its implementation. It concludes with an assessment from both the participants and visiting instructors.

Harrison, N. (2005). The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA): applications for globalization. In Proceedings from IPCC 2005: International Professional Communication Conference, 2005. 115-121.

This article discusses the XML-based Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) and the DITA features that enhance document globalization, information delivery, and reliable translation. The author presents a number of globalization benefits to the use of DITA features, including the DITA topic model, the ability to reuse topics, and the use of DITA maps to provide context to independent topics. The article also suggests how translated topic content and user interface content that are stored in translation memory can be reused and shared.

Hayhoe, G. (2006). Needed research in global technical communication. Technical Communication, 53 (2), 141-142.

Although technical documents have an ancient history as a genre, the profession of technical communication is relatively new. Since its inception in the 1940s and ’50s, it has grown significantly in North America and western Europe, but it has only begun to make inroads in Asia and eastern Europe in the past two decades.

As technical communicators recognize that their profession is becoming global not only in terms of the audiences it serves but also in terms of those who practice it, they should likewise acknowledge that their discipline’s research base is no longer adequate. Technical communicators need to revisit the assumptions and question whether the current research base is sufficient to serve the profession and the people with whom practitioners communicate today and in the future. To do that, technical communicators need to investigate how such factors as audience, purpose, rhetorical patterns, and document design in the rest of the world differ from what they are accustomed to.

This editorial describes the road technical communicators need to follow to succeed in the global communication marketplace.

Hoft, N. (1999). Global issues, local concerns. Technical Communication, 46 (2), 145-148.

This introduction previews the articles in a special issue of Technical Communication and argues that developing information products for a global audience forces us to confront differences of language, culture, and experience. It also maintains that open and global collaboration strategies offer our best approach to “dealing with difference.”

Voss, D, & Flammia, M. (2007). Ethical and intercultural challenges for technical communicators and managers in a shrinking global marketplace. Technical Communication, 54 (1), 72-87.

In today’s shrinking global marketplace, many technical communicators face challenges related to intercultural communication. This article examines ethical issues in intercultural communication, beginning with a brief survey of classical ethical models, then focuses on the guidelines for ethical communication developed by Voss and ethics specialist Lori Allen to provide a framework for discussion. Of Allen and Voss’s 10 values for ethical communication, the authors of this article focus on privacy, legality, teamwork, social responsibility, and cultural sensitivity. They offer specific suggestions for avoiding stereotyping, tokenism, and ethnocentrism in technical documentation, including before-and-after examples. The authors examine the risks involved in using graphics and icons and in attempting to translate idiomatic usages. The article concludes with guidelines for technical communicators preparing documentation for international audiences and with suggestions for managers who wish to give their employees guidance regarding ethical and effective intercultural communication.

Wiles, D. (2003). Single sourcing and Chinese culture: A perspective on skills development within western organizations and the People’s Republic of China. Technical Communication, 50 (3), 371-384.

This article lists fundamental skills of single sourcing as a framework for cross-cultural study. It then discusses the current state of technical communication within the People’s Republic of China and analyzes key Chinese cultural values compatible with single sourcing. Then it presents findings from the 2002 Professional Communication Exchange with the People’s Republic of China and reports on a skills survey conducted among Chinese and U.S. participants. Finally, the article proposes single sourcing as a basis for further collaboration with Chinese technical communicators and educators in academe and industry.

Yli-Jokipii, H. (2001). The local and the global: an exploration into the Finnish and English websites of a Finnish company. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 44 (2). 104-113.

This article describes the experience of a Finnish company that developed both Finnish and English websites. The author describes the relationship between linear text and nonlinear Hypertext. It then examines how the websites take this relationship into consideration for the differing needs and uses of readers of the websites.


Barnum, C. and Li, H. (2006). Information architecture: Intercultural human factors. Technical Communication, 53 (2), 143-166.

Pooling the resources and perspectives of two technical communication instructors-one from the United States and the other from China- these authors compare the cultural values that have shaped the development of technical communication in the US versus China and that shape the way in which documents are viewed, created, and used in those countries. Presenting these differences in light of the historical, economic, and education influences that have shaped both countries’ need for technical communication, this article compares a variety of documents to demonstrate the differences based on cultural influences.

Eaton, A. et al (2008). Comparing cultural perceptions of editing from the author’s point of view. Technical Communication, 53 (2), 477-488.

This article examines the data from a survey about editing. The goal of the survey was to determine whether differences existed between groups of respondents on the basis of characteristics relating to culture, age, gender, and professional association. The 449 survey participants hailed from several different countries, enabling the authors to discuss literature that recommends modifying editing comments for nonnative English speakers. This article is helpful for editors who work with nonnative English writers or co-editors who are inexperienced with the processes of editing, even in their own language.

McCool, M. (2006). Adapting e-Learning for Japanese audiences tutorial. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 49(4). 335-345.

The article discusses the challenges of internationalizing American e-learning materials for cultures that are more familiar with nonlinear information structures, such as the Japanese. The author presents a tutorial that first examines effective American e-learning prototypes and then provides specific requirements for Japanese audiences. American-developed e-learning typically uses a linear information structure, but for Japanese audiences, a non-linear or hierarchical structure is more appropriate. This tutorial describes three fundamental cultural dimensions and their effect on e-learning and then outlines adaptations to the information structure required for Japanese audiences.

McCool, M. (2006). Information architecture: Intercultural human factors. Technical Communication, 53 (2), 477-488.

Although information architecture has included a wide range of cultural adaptations for internationalizing and localizing online information, rarely have these efforts involved going beyond superficial cultural considerations. Initially, internationalization concentrated on the outer layers of culture, such as avoiding specific colors and inappropriate icons, as well as incorporating local currency and time standards. While internationalizing these features contributes to an effective online environment across culture, they represent the initial stages of internationalization and localization requirements.
Fortunately, current international information architecture research provides useful guidelines and heuristics for localizing online information.

This article explores the claim that current internationalization and localization efforts presume particular cultural values and that an effective online environment for international audiences requires structural or architectural reconsideration. Using a Japanese deliverable as a model, this examination maps cultural dimensions to different elements of information architecture. The result of this examination provides suggestions for future internationalization and localization projects.

St Amant, K. (2005). A prototype theory approach to international image design. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 48 (2). 219-222.

The author explains how the cognitive psychology theory of prototypes can help technical communicators develop more effective images for international consumers. Effective image use facilitates usability, decreases translation costs, and reduces the time needed to get products into global markets. Prototype theory examines how humans classify the objects, such as images, that they encounter. This classification is greatly influenced by culture and experience. By using prototype theory to analyze the cultural perspective through which readers see objects, technical communicators can better understand how to create effective images for different cultural audiences. This understanding can also apply to audience analysis for a wide variety of documents or materials.

Wigestrand, H. (1998). Innovative and interactive internationalization of software and documentation. In Proceedings from IPCC 19998: IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, 1998. 141-144.

The article presents a case study of a Norwegian software company’s efforts to prepare its software products and documentation for a multinational market. The company used a “gradual internationalization” approach, in which target language translators localized software and documentation onsite and the company obtained improved quality, greater flexibility and lower costs.

Controlled Languages

Gerritsen, M. et al (2007). A study of Plain English vocabulary and international audiences. Technical Communication, 54 (3), 319-332.

The authors of this article performed a comprehension study in the Netherlands of words discouraged by the Plain English Movement (PEM) and those recommended by the movement’s institutions. In their study, they restricted themselves to the guidelines of one of these institutions, namely the Plain English Campaign (PEC). This was a logical choice to select the PEM guidelines that are predominantly based on British English because the Dutch are familiar with British spellings, terminology, and linguistic usage.

The research questions pertained to the level of comprehension and preference of the words recommended and discouraged by the PEC. This article discusses the design and results of the preliminary study and could be of great use to other non-native English users of Plain English who wish to study the PEM with a view to implement the use of Plain English.

Mazur, B. (2000). Revisiting plain language. Technical Communication, 47 (2), 205-211.

This essay reviews resources related to the plain language movement and examines criticism of the movement in the context of plain language resources and the information design field.

Thrush, E. (2001). A study of Plain English vocabulary and international audiences. Technical Communication, 48 (3), 289-296.

Plain English and Simplified English systems are often advocated for improved communications with international audiences and other non-native speakers of American English. This study investigates two features of Plain English: the use of phrasal verbs in place of more formal verb forms, and the choice of more “common” English vocabulary, usually Germanic in derivation. Tests administered to speakers of French and German indicate that non-native speakers of English may not acquire the idiomatic meanings of phrasal verbs and that French speakers showed a significant preference for Latinate vocabulary items.


Antonopoulos, V.; Demiros, I.; Carayannis, G.; Piperidis, S. (2004). Integrating translation technologies towards a powerful translation web service. In Proceeding from the 2004 IEEE Conference on Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems. 526-531.

This article presents the design for an automated translation system that integrates two current technologies, translation memory (TM) and machine translation (MT). It also discusses the changing demands on the translation industry from the global marketplace and suggests how an integrated system improves translation quality, reduces translation time and costs and, therefore, meets the major translation demands of today and the future.

Cardey, S.; Greenfield, P.; Anantalapochai, R.; Beddar, M.; DeVitre, D.; Jin, G. (2008). Modeling of multiple target machine translation of controlled languages based on language norms and divergences. In Proceeding from ISUC ’08: 2008 Second International Symposium on Universal Communication. 322-329.

This article presents a methodology for developing a machine translation system based on linguist norms and differences. From a single source controlled language (Controlled French), the system delivers localized messages and alerts in Arabic, Chinese, English and Thai to an emergency services workers. The authors review the linguistic differences between the source and target languages and how the system’s architecture accommodates accurate translation of emergence messages. They conclude by saying that they believe their system can be adapted to other target and other source languages.