Exploring Research in Business Translation

By Daniel Gallego-Hernández (University of Alicante, Spain)

©inTRAlinea & Daniel Gallego-Hernández (2015).
"Exploring Research in Business Translation"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: New Insights into Specialised Translation
Edited by: Daniel Gallego-Hernández
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Permanent URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2153

Que s’intensifie la réflexion sur la méthodologie des cours pratiques de traduction et que ce thème fasse l’objet d’un mini colloque qui réunirait les pédagogues désireux de mettre en commun leur expérience de l’enseignement ! [May reflections on translation teaching methodologies intensify and may this subject be the main topic of a mini conference bringing together educators wanting to share their experience in teaching!] (Delisle, 1988)

In “L’initiation à la traduction économique” in 1988, Jean Delise essentially indicated that he felt there was a lack of discussion on translator training methodologies and a lack of conferences which brought together translator trainers wanting to share their experience. Later, in an updated version of the same article, he still regretted that such conferences remained rare:

Rares sont les colloques où les professeurs chargés de cours pratiques de traduction ont la chance de partager leur expérience de l’enseignement et de mettre en commun leurs réussites et leurs échecs dans ce domaine [la traduction économique].
[There is hardly any conference where teachers responsible for practical translation courses have the opportunity to share their teaching experience, their successes, and their failures in this area (business translation).]

It seems indeed that research on business translation, compared with other types of translation, has not received the same attention. We can confirm this by consulting the bibliographic database BITRA (Bibliography of Interpretation and Translation). The graph below shows, as of July 2015, the number of records for each year since 2000 in the various technical fields where records exist (business, information technology, legal, medical and localization).

According to this graph, we can see indeed that researchers have been interested in other types of translation, such as legal or medical translation, more than in business translation. However, if we look at recent years, we can see that the differences between the various types of translation are not very significant, which may give the impression that research in business translation is being given the interest it deserves. This may be due to the fact that researchers have become aware that this type of translation does have an important place in the translation services market, at least according to some recent surveys. In this sense, for example, the survey conducted in Spain by the Association of Specialized Centres in Translation (ACT, 2005: 108), which aimed at collecting feedback from both translation companies and professional translators, revealed that, in terms of work generation, business translation assignments were in second place behind technical and legal translation. Something similar happens with the results of the survey conducted by the COMENEGO project (Multilingual Corpus of Economics and Business), which showed, among other things, that as far as frequency is concerned, translators working from Spanish into English and vice versa translate fewer business texts that legal texts, although more business texts than technical, scientific or literary texts (Tolosa Igualada, 2014: 30-31). The interest in business translation and interpreting can also be seen in other surveys, such as Medina & Alvarez (2014), who investigate exporting companies that need translation services.

But the recent interest in business translation can also be seen in master’s degree programs, specialized conferences or edited volumes. In this respect, for example, we find some master’s degrees in Europe whose curricula seem to emphasize business translation. These include the Master de traduction éditoriale, économique et technique (École Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs - Sorbonne Paris III), the Master LLCE Traduction Anglaise Spécialisée (Traduction juridique et économique) (Université Paris X Nanterre), the Master Langues étrangères et échanges internationaux, spécialité Traduction juridique et économique (Université de Cergy-Pontoise), the Máster Universitario en Traducción Jurídico-Financiera (Universidad Pontificia de Comillas), or the Master de traducción institucional (jurídica y económica) (Universidad de Alicante). In addition to these programs, we can also find other specific training courses related to business translation, such as Formation économique et financière à l’usage des interprètes de conference, organized by the SFT (Société française des traducteurs) or Goods Trading Internationally: a Course for Translators, organized by the University of Geneva.

In addition to this kind of courses, we also find specific conferences that, in one way or another, are linked to business translation. This applies, for example, to the conference on Langue, Économie, Entreprise, which took place in Paris in November 2003; the conference on Aspetti interculturali nella comunicazione delle organizzazioni economico-commerciali, organized in Milan in November 2006; the VI Simposio Internacional de Terminología Literalidad y dinamicidad en el discurso económico, celebrated in Barcelona in July 2007; the International Conference on Economic, Business, Financial and Institutional Translation, which took place in Alicante in May 2014, or the Seminarios sobre traducción económica e institucional: docencia, investigación y profesión, which have been organized by the University of Alicante since 2012. Furthermore, various edited volumes have been published from these conferences: Behr et al. (2007), Calvi et al. (2008), Cabré et al. (2008), Gallego-Hernández (2015), Gallego-Hernández (2014), respectively.

In addition to events that have already taken place or volumes that have been published, however, we can also find upcoming events and forthcoming volumes. For example, the next issue (Volume 8 (2016)) of the Monti journal (Monographs in Translation and Interpreting) focuses on Economic, Financial and Business Translation: from Theory to Training and Professional Practice. Also, the Second International Conference on Economic, Business, Financial and Institutional Translation is planned to be held in the Universtié à Trois Rivières in Canada. All of this evidence makes us believe that Jean Delisle’s wish related to the development of research and training in business translation “n’est pas resté lettre morte” [has not gone unheeded].

Against this background, the aim of this special issue is to contribute to the development of research in business translation by bringing together a series of contributions whose central axis is business and institutional translation. In particular, this volume includes contributions that look at training business translators, articles on localizating corporate websites or products, contrastive studies on terminology and translation problems, and works related to the development of terminology resources for business translators. These articles deal with different areas of expertise, such as globalization and labour, stock exchanges, the food industry, investment funds or the world of business.

The first paper, by Alejandro Carmona Sandoval and Zakia Ait Saadi (University of Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France), is entitled “Elementos de contextualización para la justificación de la (no) traducción de un sitio web corporativo: el sector agroalimentario en España” [Contextual elements justifying (non) translation of a corporate website: The food industry in Spain]. The authors analyse the localization of websites belonging to Spanish exporting companies that work in the field of fruits and vegetables, and show that the relationship between exports and website translation is by no means direct and straightforward.

While on the subject of localization, the paper “La localización de la sección ‘productos’ en sitios web de empresas exportadoras agroalimentarias” [Localizing the ‘products’ section on agrifood exporter websites] by Ana Medina Reguera and Cristina Ramírez Delgado (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain) also discusses the translation of corporate websites. But in this case the authors analyse various websites, identify and classify a series of errors in translation, and suggest the need for planning a strategy to improve communication between companies and translators.

Turning to terminography, the paper by Jeanne Dancette (Université de Montréal, Canada) entitled “A Context-Rich Dictionary with a Relational Structure: A Tool for Economic Translation” provides an overview of the principles used when designing the Analytical Dictionary of Globalization and Labour (DAMT), which is a trilingual dictionary (English, French and Spanish) that includes some 6000 terms and offers the user various kinds of information such as translations, definitions or clusters of related terms. The strength of this dictionary lies in semantic relations for information retrieval and lexicological precision.

Koen Kerremans (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) is the author of the paper entitled “Managing Terminological and Translational Diversity in Parallel Corpora: A Case Study in Institutional Translation”, which also deals with terminography. He presents a translation resource that covers a set of English term variants and their French and Dutch equivalents retrieved from a trilingual parallel corpus of institutional texts, and discusses how translation units are semantically marked and how the resource can be used by translators.

The next series of papers are related to terminology problems in business translation. In his work entitled “Ideological connotations in financial terminology: an English-French-Italian study from ‘hedge funds’ through ‘fondi speculativi/fonds spéculatifs’ to ‘fondi alternativi/fonds alternatifs’”, Danio Maldussi (Università di Bologna, Italy) analyses, from a range of perspectives, the nature of the negative judgement that surrounds the adjectives speculativo and spéculatif in Italian and French when translating the term hedge funds. The author concludes by addressing the change in ideological connotations when moving from the denomination fondi speculativi/fonds spéculatifs to the reassuring category of alternative investment funds.

The article “La presse française et égyptienne francophone après la Révolution du 25 janvier 2011: étude sur le traduction du discours économique égyptien” [The French-language French and Egyptian media after the revolution of January 25, 2011: a study of the translation of economic discourse], by Dima El Husseini (Université Française d’Egypte, Egypt), analyses the phenomenon of interleaving the Egyptian dialect within classical Arabic in the economic discourse of the Egyptian press by focusing on the neologism. The author states that neologisms in the Egyptian economic context and the use of various strategies in translation such as euphemism, metaphor or ellipsis have broadened the cultural horizon of target readers, producing a functional effect at the aesthetic level and at the emotional level.

Also focused on terminology, the paper “La traduction économique dans une perspective contrastive français-italien: problèmes terminologiques et difficultés traductives” [Economic translation from a French-Italian contrastive perspective: terminology problems and translation difficulties], by Alessandra Rollo (Università del Salento, Italy), discusses the heterogeneity of economic language which can be observed in its various communicative acts or textual genres, and the need to provide relevant translation solutions appropriate to each situation. The author focuses on various translation problems such as equivocal terms, collocations or neologisms.

The final articles in this special issue fundamentally deal with business translation training. Noting that there are very few research papers dealing with classifying expert knowledge, Leticia Herrero and Verónica Román (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain) propose a classification of genres within the fields of economics, finance and business in their paper “English to Spanish translation of the economics and finance genres” in order to provide translator trainers and inexperienced translators with a catalogue that is representative of the main text types.

Cristina Gelpí (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain) reopens the discussion on the subject-matter knowledge needed by translators when confronted with business texts. In her paper “¿Cuánta economía debe saber el traductor? La adquisición de conocimiento temático para la traducción” [How much economics should a translator know? Acquiring translation subject matter knowledge], the author believes that this kind of knowledge is limited to the text and not to the field, and proposes two learning strategies to ensure acquisition of this knowledge, which she uses when training translators.

The next article, entitled “A contextual case study-based methodology of teaching business translation: an overview”, is written by Marcin Walczyński (University of Wrocław, Poland). After discussing some general aspects of business English and business translation, the author surveys the Polish methods used to train translators in this field and presents a case study-based methodology of business translation teaching based on the assumption that translators have a multifaceted translator’s competence which allows them to perform several tasks at a time.

“La competencia documental en el aprendizaje de la traducción económica francés-español-francés. Estudio de caso” [Documentary competence in learning French-Spanish-French economic translation. A case study], by Áurea Fernández (Universidad de Vigo, Spain), focuses on the stock market. The author analyses two concepts related to sale-purchase and rise-fall in French and Spanish in order to show the dynamism of financial language and to train translators when solving specific translation problems which cannot be solved solely by using dictionaries.

Last but not least, the paper written by Éric Poirier (Université à Trois Rivières, Canada) is entitled “The interpretation of business in specialized expressions and compound terms for translation purposes”. Noting that the field of economic, business and financial translation is characterized by conceptual ontologies that are conveyed with specialized expressions and compound terms, the author suggests a method to interpret various specialized lexical items. 

We believe that this special issue, which on the whole offers various viewpoints on business and institutional translation, is one more example of the current research situation in this field. We hope that the readers of this collection will find the papers provided here useful and will find some ideas or suggestions that inspire them in their projects or research. We would also like to express our thanks to the authors, the reviewers and the editorial board of Intralinea.


Agrupación de centros especializados en traducción (2005) Estudio de situación del mercado español de servicios profesionales de traducción (2004).

Behr, Irmtraud; Hentschel, Dieter; Kauffmann, Michel & Anja Kern (eds.) (2007) Langue, économie, entreprise: Le travail des mots, Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Cabré, M. Teresa; Bach, Carme & Carles Tebé (eds.) (2008) Literalidad y dinamicidad en el discurso económico: VI Actividades de IULATERM de Verano (9-12 de julio de 2007), Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Documenta Universitaria.

Calvi, María Vittoria; Mapelli, Giovanna & Javier Santos López (eds.) (2008) Lingue, Culture, Economia. Comunicazione e Pratiche Discorsive, Milán, FrancoAngeli Editori; Università degli Studi di Milano.

Delisle, Jean (1988) “L’initiation à la traduction économique”, Meta, 33, no. 2: 204-215.

Gallego-Hernández, Daniel (ed.) (2014) Traducción Económica: Entre profesión, formación y recursos documentales, Soria, Excma. Diputación Provincial de Soria.

Gallego-Hernández, Daniel (ed.) (2015) Current Approaches to Business and Institutional Translation = Enfoques actuales en traducción económica e institucional, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang.

Medina Reguera, Ana & Carmen Álvarez García (2007) “La relación empresa-traducción en el sector agroalimentario andaluz”, Skopos, 4.

Tolosa Igualada, Miguel (2014) “Dime qué traduces y ‘les’ diré quién eres. Estudio basado en encuestas acerca de los documentos traducidos por traductores económicos (inglés-español y español-inglés)”, Vertere. Monográficos de la revista Hermeneus, 16: 23-41.

About the author(s)

Daniel Gallego-Hernández is a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts of the University of Alicante in Spain. His research interests include corpus linguistics applied to translation, business translation and translation teaching. His PhD was entitled “Traducción económica y textos paralelos en internet “. He teaches business translation between French and Spanish as well as terminology at his faculty. His publications as an individual include various papers and a book entitled “Traducción económica y corpus”.

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©inTRAlinea & Daniel Gallego-Hernández (2015).
"Exploring Research in Business Translation"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: New Insights into Specialised Translation
Edited by: Daniel Gallego-Hernández
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Permanent URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/2153

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