Interview with Terminologist Rodica Caragia

May 17, 2018 9:30 am

Rodica Caragia is a Senior Lecturer and Terminologist at the Department of Translation, Interpretation and Applied Linguistics (DTIAL), Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Moldova State University. She graduated from the department of English Philology in 1998, holds a Master degree in Philology and is currently working on her PhD degree on English Borrowings as a means of enriching Romanian specialised terminology. She is also a freelance translator and interpreter in the fields of law and medicine and a Member of the linguistic jury of the Bureau of the Latin Union in Chisinau for awarding prizes in scientific and technical translations into Romanian (2005-2010).  Her approach on translation/terminology is, “There is no knowledge without terminology”.

 

1. What is the status of Terminology in your country and when was the course of Terminology introduced in the curriculum at your university?

The Department of Translation, Interpretation and Applied Linguistics was created in the 1990s. The majority of those who began their didactic activity at the department were young enthusiastic lecturers who, step by step, created a programme of study corresponding to the needs of the translation and interpretation market from our country.

At the beginning of the 2000s, several workshops and seminars were organised with the support of the Alliance française from Chișinău, Latin Union and the National Centre of Terminology on various terminology topics (theory of terminology, corpus linguistics, corpus-based terminology etc.) moderated by terminologists from Romania, France, Canada (Quebec).

In 2005, terminology was introduced, first for the students from the Faculty of Informatics, from the specialty Informatics and Foreign Languages and later at the Department of Translation, Interpretation and Applied Linguistics.

I can say that we were autodidacts, with very limited terminological resources and a very restricted access to electronic or paper-based information. From the limited resources we had, we tried to develop a curriculum adjusted to the needs of would-be translators and interpreters.

 

2. How is the course of Terminology structured in the curriculum at your Department of Translation, Interpretation and Applied Linguistics?

The Programme of Study from our department includes a theoretical course and seminars called Introduction into Terminology for the second year Bachelor degree students and there is a theoretical course and seminars called Terminology for students at the master’s degree level. Due to the fact that the number of hours is not very high and our primary objective is to train would-be translators and interpreters, we try to integrate the onomasiological approach (prevalence of concepts over terms) with semasiological approach (concepts via terms). There are also such disciplines as “Legal Text Editing”, “Community Interpreting in Legal / Medical / Social Settings” and others.

The potential translator and interpreter has no choice but to understand that by studying the theory of terminology they open the door to understanding concepts, and respectively, terms, correctly assigning equivalents and ultimately delivering a top quality product. Terminology is a tool that helps the translator make the right decision. Personally, I consider Terminology as one of the core subjects for future translators and interpreters.

 

3.When did you first become interested in terminology?

My first acquaintance with terminology took place when I began my translation / interpretation career, when I discovered that general language dictionaries and linguistic knowledge is not enough in order to produce a quality product in translation / interpreting. Then, in 2002, Georgeta Ciobanu held a two day workshop on terminology in Chisinau and beginning with that moment, I understood that terminology has become my passion and that it should be a compulsory subject for would-be translators and interpreters.

In the Philology department, we learned about Terminology for one theoretical class within the course of Lexicology. We did not know that it was worth understanding and studying.

 

4. Tell us about your translation/interpreting experience. Do you remember any situation when a term distressed you?

The translation market form the Republic of Moldova is very small and in order to “survive” you should be able to work in many fields, you should be flexible. Elections, ECHR cases, reforms in the legal system, medicine (tuberculosis and HIV protocols), foster care protection etc, etc. these are some of the subject fields I have translated in. Each time you change the subject field you have to read and study the knowledge structure, you have to refresh your terminology and you have to find the necessary equivalents. In very many cases, bilingual English – Romanian or Romanian – English dictionaries / internet resources cannot help because you have to adjust them to the concepts of the Romanian language spoken in the Republic of Moldova.

I remember the translation of a document on the public prosecutor’s office reform. It took me 5 hours to translate the first two pages. They were full of legal concepts not recorded in any English – Romanian resources (there is a major difference between the structure of the field in the Republic of Moldova and Romania). I had to read laws, regulations and other documents in order to assign necessary equivalents for the terms. You feel great relief and enormous satisfaction when the feedback is positive.

In our country, we still do not have a unified terminology for some subject fields. Some of the recent problems of translation regarded the translation of Diploma Supplements. Previous versions included a lot of calques: “responsabil de program” rendered as “responsible for the programme” instead of “programme coordinator”. We still use interchangeably practicum and internship and many other aspects. Finally, just recently it was decided to create a working-group for solving all these kind of aspects.

 

5. What is your opinion on EU’s Inter-Institutional Terminology Database, IATE?

I use IATE in my activity and I recommend it to my students. It is very convenient and time saving when you have the necessary terminology in one click. Accessibility and reliability are the keywords I would use to describe IATE. It is a reliable source for the Romanian spoken in Moldova when it comes to general legal teams, agricultural terms, financial terminology and others. But I also try to make my students word/term conscious – to double check, when necessary.

 

6. Are students in Moldova familiar with IATE and the TermCoord website?

Translation students often resort to very unreliable online resources. Some of them use resources that provide lists of synonyms for one unit. I suggest to them not to rely on bilingual sources listing several synonyms for one concept.

I recommend using IATE. I also recommend the TermCoord website. They have to read some of the interviews as compulsory reading for the seminar. I also suggest to them to use the terminology blog inmyownterms.com. It introduces simple concepts in plain words and provides useful information on theory and practice.

 

7. Rodolfo Maslias, the Head of TermCoord, mentioned in a speech that “Terminology is not the work of translators”. What are your insights regarding this?

I completely agree with this statement, but the reality of our country is different. We do not have terminology positions, except National Centre of Terminology which works mainly with Romanian terminology and Russian vs Romanian terminology. For those working with other languages English, French, Italian, Chinese, Arabic etc. you have to rely on outside sources. In our country, the translator should perform practically all the tasks: translation, terminology search, editing, proof-reading. The difficulties mainly lie in the decisions the translator has to take regarding several equivalents from various sources for choosing the correct one. The clients expect you to submit good quality work.

The conception that a translator should know not only the language, but the subject field as well, still exists. The wide majority of those who come to our department do not have any specialisation. Thus, you have to find the ways to teach how to cope with unknown subject fields.

 

8. In terms of theoretical and practical development, what is the next step in Terminology?

I hope translation-oriented terminology continues its development and it reaches our country as well. I believe that each company, institution and organisation should create their own term bases in order to manage terminology effectively -thus increasing visibility and productivity.


 

Interviewer: Alina Busila

Alina is a researcher, lawyer-linguist and university lecturer at Moldova State University. She has published approximately 10 articles on topics related to legal translation and legal terminology. From 2017, she has been a member of International Language and Law Association (ILLA) and PhD junior researchers panel of ILLA.

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