Decision-Making in Translation: A Case Study

This commentary was written to accompany an extended translation of a Ural M-72 motorcycle manual. You can read a brief extract of the translationhere, while the complete translation is available for sale: item one on this page. Taken together, the commentary and translation were submitted as the dissertation component of my M.A. in Interpreting and Translation at the University of Bradford. I won’t forego the opportunity to say I was awarded a distinction. The commentary throws light on the issues faced by a translator; although this piece deals with technical translation, it is easy to imagine that similar issues arise regardless of genre and content. I hope you find it interesting.


The introduction discusses the origins of the M-72 motorcycle and the historical context of the manual, and notes that motorcycles played a highly important role in the lives of
ordinary Soviet citizens. It goes on to identify a genuine demand for an English translation of the manual, and considers the target readership of this translation. It concludes that, while the history of the vehicle is a point of interest for this readership, the primary purpose of the translation is to provide easily accessible technical information.

The commentary discusses the conventions of technical literature in general, and motorcycle manuals in particular. It draws on relevant translation theory to inform a strategy by
which the technical information identified as the translation’s primary purpose can be provided in the forms most familiar to the target readership from existing manuals. It goes on to consider the most interesting problems encountered during the translation process, and examines the solutions adopted.

In addition to the theoretical approach, the practical steps taken in performing the translation are described. A glossary of technical terms and a bibliography are provided. The target text is given in Appendix One, and the source text in Appendix Two.


  1. Introduction
    1. The M-72 Motorcycle: 1930s to 2002, and beyond
    2. Source Text Description
    3. The Source Text in Context
    4. The Translation in Context
  2. Commentary
    1. Genre and Text Type
      1. Instructions
      2. Owner’s Manual or Workshop Manual?
      3. In Combination
    2. Lexis
      1. Terminology Differences
      2. Abbreviations and Part Numbers
    3. Syntax
    4. Quantities
    5. Inconsistencies and Ambiguities
  3. Resources Used
  4. Conclusion
  5. Glossary [not online]
  6. Bibliography
    1. Dictionaries
    2. Motorcycles and motorcycling
    3. Translation Theory
  7. Notes


1.1 The M-72 Motorcycle: 1930s to 2002, and beyond

There is controversy over the origins of the M-72 motorcycle; the UK consensus [1] appears to suggest that the USSR purchased the design of the – already obsolete – R-71 sidevalve
motorcycle from BMW just prior to World War II, but that, post 1945, this connection with Nazi Germany was distinctly inconvenient to the regime, and so alternative versions arose: either the design was acquired when the Red Army ‘liberated’ the BMW plant, or the motorcycles were ‘reverse-engineered’ from captured Wehrmacht examples.

Certainly, the Russian M-72 is remarkably similar to the German R-71 (even down to the model number). Circumstantial support for the ‘purchase’ theory is provided by the fact that the M-72 design was subsequently sold on to the Chinese after the Soviet factories had developed an overhead valve (OHV) engine, with the improbable result that the original sixty-year-old design is still available, new, from some UK dealers under the trade name ‘Chang Jiang‘. The Uralmoto factory in Irbit is also currently advertising a ‘Retro‘ model, with very similar styling to the M-72, albeit with more technically advanced components, which is scheduled for release in 2003.

In the early 1970s, the Soviet trading group SATRA was created in order to market agricultural machinery to the West. Motorcycles came under SATRA’s remit, and were sold in the UK under the tradename ‘Cossack‘, which explains the name of the UK enthusiasts’ organisation, the Cossack Owners Club. The operation naturally included spare parts, and manuals translated into English. However, the M-72 had by this stage been superseded by a series of OHV models, and so was never offered for sale in English-speaking markets. Accordingly, the manual has never previously been translated into English.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, earlier models have begun to emerge from former Communist
countries for sale to Anglophone owners. Indeed, the author is the proud owner of a 1961 K-750, the Kiev-built analogue of the M-72. As a result, demand is slowly growing for support information in English, including a translation of the owner’s manual.

It should be emphasised that there is, therefore, a practical reason for choosing this text, as well as the theoretical interest posed by the technical subject matter and style of the manual: this translation will be used by Anglophone enthusiasts of Russian motorcycles for assistance in maintaining their bikes. As a result, my over-riding aim has been to produce a clear, comprehensible, and above all useful text for this readership, so that they can find the relevant information or understand the necessary procedure without constant reminders that they are using a translation. This practical aim will inform many of the approaches and strategies adopted, as we shall discuss in more detail in section 1.4. Firstly, however, let us examine the source text itself.

1.2 Source Text Description

The M-72 owner’s manual was published by the Kiev division of Mashgiz – the State
Mechanical Engineering Publishing House – in 1957, in the form of an A5 booklet. There are 80 pages, broken down into 10 sections, including an introduction, a description of how the various parts function and are adjusted, and ending with a troubleshooting table of potential problems and their probable causes. Due to volume constraints, this dissertation is concerned with the first half of the manual: the introduction, technical
data, motorcycle controls, instructions for use, and some sections of the maintenance instructions.

No author is credited, although Ya.V. Rudenskii is named as the technical editor, and M.S.
Gornostaipol’skaya as proofreader. Contacts at the Irbit motorcycle factory have been unable to trace any information about these two individuals.

The target readership would have been purchasers of the M-72 Motorcycle: the manual was intended
to provide the information necessary for the new owner to obtain long and reliable service from his new vehicle (the possessive pronoun is used advisedly: for various cultural reasons, women in CIS countries are to this day less likely to drive than men, and this is especially true in what the author knows of Russian
motorcycle culture) in the often challenging conditions of 1950s Soviet roads, far from any network of dealers to provide regular services.

1.3 The Source Text in Context

It should not be forgotten that, in the immediate post-war period, the motorcycle combination offered
the possibility of (relatively) cheap, practical transport for the masses. In the West, it was rapidly overshadowed by small, affordable cars such as the Morris Minor, so that while in 1950, of just under 4 million UK registered vehicles, 49.8% were cars and 16.2% were motorcycles, by 1957 the proportions had altered
to 55% and 7% respectively, out of a total of 6.7 million [2]. This meant motorcycling was well on the way to becoming a minority pursuit, turned by some into a lifestyle

‘…1965 being the height of the mods and rockers crusades on the beaches of the nation,
[it] meant that anybody young (‘old fogeys’ with double adult sidecars were of course excluded) who expressed the remotest desire to own a motorcycle was generally considered to be, if not exactly a delinquent psychopath, at the very least some sort of social misfit.’ [3]

So, just eight years after the manual’s publication, the motorcycle was perceived to have no place in soi-disant respectable British society, and, even in the motorcycle subculture, the sidecar outfit was seen as the mark of an eccentric (it would soon become a standard prop in British situation comedies).

It would be easy, therefore, to underestimate the importance of trouble-free running, were it not for two factors: firstly, the Soviet economy was more oriented toward heavy industry, the military, and prestige projects (the first Sputnik was launched in the same year that this manual was published), and less toward satisfying consumer demand (e.g. by producing family cars). Although later figures have been
impossible to trace, of all vehicles registered with the GAI [State Transport Police] (thus excluding military vehicles) in 1945, 16.7% were cars, whereas 18.2% were motorcycles [4].

Secondly, sidecar outfits are particularly well suited for rough conditions (the offset wheel reduces the risk of skidding, whilst the short wheelbase and lack of width compared to a 4×4 car increases the number of practicable routes). Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that motorcycles are still valued in rural communities in the Kuban Region for their ruggedness and all terrain ability, and there is little reason to believe that the same is not true elsewhere. The author learnt through personal experience that, in 2000, it was still a legal requirement to register motorcycle ownership with Kuban military authorities for possible requisition in case of war.

For these reasons, the motorcycle combination played a much more significant role, and for a much
longer time, in mainstream daily life in the Soviet Union than in Western European countries. According to the Australian Ural dealers:

‘The popularity of the outfits grew steadily with the Russian people and in the
the full production of the [Irbit] plant was turned over to non-military production.’ [My italics] [5]

The manual would, accordingly, have been a very important document.

1.4 The Translation in Context

Clearly, it would be obtuse to ascribe the same importance to the document from the perspective of the translation’s target readership. Hatim and Mason define ‘audience design’ as ‘the translator’s perception of the consumers of the target text’ [6]. In section 1.1, I identified the target consumers to be Anglophone enthusiasts of Russian motorcycles. My perception is that, in the majority, they will be hobby owners, interested in the historical background of the motorcycle and the technical challenge of keeping a classic motorcycle in running order. This implies that they will possess a certain level of technical knowledge. Whilst it is doubtful that they will be reliant on the bike for their only transport, they will be reliant on the translation as the sole source of technical information for this particular model, and so there is an over-riding pragmatic goal to present this information as clearly and usefully as possible. How this goal might be achieved is the focus of the discussion in section 2.

Given the historical interest, I have decided not to culturally transpose or omit points such as the requirement to register carburettor alterations with the GAI(ST p. 2), or the advice on how to cross tramlines (ST p.15) where this does not obstruct the clear flow of information.

However, one cultural property commonly associated with Soviet-Bloc English-language motorcycle
manuals in particular is their awkward phrasing, presumably due to them not being translated or proof-read by native-speakers. For example, the owner’s manual for my MZ ETZ 250 (manufactured in East Germany in 1988), offers the following advice on air filters:

‘Carefully tap the filter – do not wash it. Moist air filter must be dried or replaced by
new ones. The induction system must be tight, that is to say, it must be assembled with every care.’ [7]

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the original German text, and so cannot comment on the
accuracy of the translation, but I can and do question the naturalness of the resulting English. Whilst this may appeal, in the historical context of the machine, I feel such infelicities obstruct efficient communication of technical information (which remains the key purpose of the manual), and so I have felt able to ignore this particular demand of intertextuality. See section 2.3 for a more detailed discussion.


2.1 Genre and Text Type

Hatim and Mason oppose communicative stability (static language use) to communicative turbulence
(dynamic language use), where stability is seen as an area in which

‘expectations are
invariably fulfilled, the interaction of signs highly uniform, and norms of language use strictly adhered to’. [8]

The primary role of any manual is to impart instructions, including technical information, clearly, and so static language use is a key property of such texts. I have adhered to such static language use, following the conventions associated with the genre of modern motorcycle manuals.

I emphasise the word modern, as, although an M-72 motorcycle might now be seen more as a historical artefact than a working object, the reverse is true of the manual, as we saw in section 1.4. It may well be, for example, that beginning a translation of the impersonal
introduction (ST p. 3) with the words ‘If the rider…’ would accurately reflect the tone of 1950s English manuals, but, as we shall see, I feel that a more direct address is more suitable for present-day readers. This, and other modern conventions of the genre, will be discussed in greater detail in the following

2.1.1 Instructions

Baker identifies both ‘genre’ and ‘text type’ as notions which

relate to the way in which
textual material is packaged by the writer along patterns familiar to the reader. […] The first classification abstracts across contexts, the second abstracts across such factors as the nature of the messages involved or the addresser/addressee relationship.


Taking the second concept first, we find that the manual is subtitled ‘Instruktsiya po ukhodu i
‘ [‘Instructions for maintenance and use‘], which gives us reasonable grounds for asserting that it can be classified as ‘instruction’ (cf. Baker’s other ‘typical labels’:’narration’; ‘exposition’; ‘argumentation’ [10]). Although Baker does not amplify these categories, I tentatively suggest that, in a set of instructions, an English reader may expect to encounter inter alia: imperative verb forms; use of the second person; a preference for the modal verb ‘should’ over ‘must’ or ‘need’ (these being too reminiscent of commands rather than instructions); and lists of actions to be carried out in sequence, in order to achieve a particular result. In section 2.3, we will examine how the source text treats instructions, and consider the consequences for our translation.

2.1.2 Owner’s Manual or Workshop

If we examine ‘genre’, a motorcycle manual falls squarely into the broad domain of technical literature, yet clearly, the label ‘technical literature’ encompasses a wide field. There are strong grounds for arguing
that owner’s manuals in fact form a sub-genre of their own, aimed at all purchasers, whether novice or veteran, of a new motorcycle. This genre has as common features: a description with basic technical specifications of a particular motorcycle model, instructions on how to ride the motorcycle, and guidance on
routine maintenance procedures (e.g. changing a tyre).

More complex maintenance (e.g. changing a piston) is the preserve of the ‘workshop manual’, a separate although related genre exemplified by the comprehensive range produced by the Haynes publishing house, which is aimed at the competent home mechanic. It is impossible to be dogmatic about the precise boundaries of each genre, and the M-72 manual in fact shares aspects of both (the detailed component
descriptions are more a feature of workshop manuals than owner’s manuals, which presumably reflects the necessity for owner maintenance described in section 1.2), but, given the absence of instructions for major work and the presence of simple advice on riding motorcycles, I believe the classification of owner’s manual is more appropriate for the source text.

2.1.3 In Combination

Newmark suggests that the ‘familiar patterns’ (to keep Baker’s term) of technical writing for an English reader include the presence of ‘passives, nominalisations, third persons, empty verbs, present tenses’, and the absence of ’emotive language’ [11]. This ‘lack of care’ [12] is criticised in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, with the narrator castigating technical manuals for the fact that:

‘Implicit in every line is the idea that “here is the machine, isolated in time and in space from everything else in the universe. It has no relationship to you.”‘ [13]

Indeed, Hatim and Mason identify nominalisation as a device which can be used ‘for the expression of “alienation”‘ [14]. However, using Hatim and Mason’s model [15] to analyse our source text, we could argue that, in this case, the conventions of technical literature are being used to project an image of authority and objectivity in order to inspire confidence in the motorcycle’s new owner. Moreover, our translation does not share the aim of Pirsig’s narrator to challenge the established order, whereas it does aim
to comply with the intertextual demands identified in section
and section 2.

For our purposes, therefore, I would like to use the narrator’s statement to highlight an important difference (while recalling Newmark’s point that ‘words like “always”, “never”, “all”, “must” have no place in talk about translation’ [16], and also drawing on Hatim and Mason’s notion of the continuum ‘(“more of this or less of that” rather than “either this or that”)’ [17]): when translating those passages I believe are more typical of a workshop manual, e.g. the component descriptions, I have tended to use the constructions identified by Newmark, as we are entirely interested in the working principles of that particular component, and so some form of isolation seems appropriate. Conversely, in those passages, e.g. the riding instructions,
which I believe are more typical of an owner’s manual, there is an implicit need to draw a connection between a given owner and a given machine, and so I have made greater use of the second person and of imperatives; of those constructions, in fact, which were tentatively identified in section 2.1.1 as being typical of ‘instructions’.

2.2 Lexis

If we now turn to lexis, in his discussion of technical translation, Newmark proposes three levels of technical language:

‘(1) Academic. This includes transferred Latin and Greek words associated with
academic papers, e.g., “phlegmasia alba dolens”.

(2) Professional. Formal terms used by experts, e.g., “epidemic parotitis”, “varicella”, “scarlatina”, “tetanus”.

(3) Popular. Layman vocabulary, which may include familiar alternative terms, e.g., “mumps”, “chicken-pox”, “scarlet fever”, “stroke”, “lockjaw”.’ [18]

Although it was argued in section 1.4 that anyone willing to
acquire a forty-five-year-old motorcycle is likely to have some competence in motorcycle mechanics, I feel justified, given the original target readership identified in section
, in preferring Newmark’s third level as the general basis for my lexical choices (for example, I translate oboroty dvigatelya more frequently as ‘revs’ than as ‘engine speed’). My reasons are twofold: firstly, this remains more faithful to the original purpose of the source text, and, secondly, it will not hinder comprehension by the specialists I expect to form the bulk of the translation’s target readership (see section 1.4), whereas a novice may not be able to
understand more complex terms. As Newmark’s definition implies, however, a familiar alternative does not always exist, and this is reflected in the detailed component descriptions with which the section entitled ‘Maintenance and Adjustment’ begins. Yet, as we have already seen, such descriptions are unusual according to our working definition of the ‘owner’s manual’ genre.

2.2.1 Terminology Differences

The most significant difference between English and Russian terminology was encountered in the description of the brakes: Where the source text refers to the rychag ruchnogo tormoza (e.g. ST, p.10), an Anglophone motorcyclist would be bemused by the term ‘hand brake lever’, as these tend to be found between the front seats of four-wheeled vehicles: our Anglophone motorcyclist knows pragmatically that the ‘front brake’ is operated by hand (unless the Moto Guzzi marque, and only that marque, is under consideration) and so use of the term ‘hand brake’ would be extremely marked. Such dynamic language use (see section 2.1) would contradict my overall approach to this translation, and so I have preferred the usual English phrase ‘front brake’. The corresponding argument applies to pedal’ nozhnogo tormoza, with the added pragmatic value of the
phrase ‘rear brake pedal’, which implies foot operation.

There are a number of terms which appear superficially to be the same in both Russian and English, e.g. tsilindr/cylinder, karbyurator/carburettor. However, in both cases, Russian
likes to append the word dvigatelya [‘of the engine’] e.g. ST p. 27). It is almost tautological to talk of an ‘engine carburettor’ in English – certainly, in technical literature, it would be a superfluous explication – and so I have chosen to omit the word ‘engine’ when encountered as a compound with
‘carburettor’ (e.g. ST p. 2).

Tsilindr presents a slightly more complicated case, as it is common to talk of, for example, a
‘master cylinder’ when describing hydraulic brake systems, and so it would be possible, just, to imagine a situation where such explication would be necessary. However, the M-72 is not equipped with hydraulic brakes. It is also difficult to conceive of just when that hypothetical situation would in fact arise, as the
engine and the brakes tend to be considered separately. As with ‘carburettor’, then, I have tended to omit the word ‘engine’ (e.g. ST p. 20).

Moreover, the Russian word tsilindr is frequently used to refer to just the cylinder barrel, the word golovka being used for the cylinder head (e.g. ST p. 21), whereas in English, the word ‘cylinder’ by itself implies the whole assembly. Also, I very often omit the word ‘cylinder’, referring simply to ‘barrel’ or ‘head’ (where this is sufficiently clear from the context) in accordance with common English usage.

2.2.2 Abbreviations and Part

Russian appears inordinately fond of abbreviations and acronyms, some of which – e.g. avtomotovelotorg[derived from ‘car, motorcycle and bicycle trading’] (ST p.2) – seem hardly less ungainly than the phrases they replace. I have elected to transliterate the acronyms and add a gloss in
brackets, on the basis that such acronyms are redolent of Russia and will thus appeal to the historical interest identified in section 1.4, whilst not obstructing
access to key information.

It is a moot point whether the part numbers given in the ‘Motorcycle Technical Specifications’ (ST pp. 4-7) are abbreviations or merely serial numbers. My strategy has been simply to transliterate letters to provide a
comprehensible label. The function of these components will be clear to any competent mechanic, who will be able to use his or her knowledge to select a suitable replacement part, possibly with reference to the knowledge bases of the various owners clubs.

The only exception to this arises in the description of the petrol tap positions in instruction 2 of the section Zapusk dvigatelya(ST p. 11) [‘Starting the Engine TT p. 41], where I have not transliterated
the letters on the basis that the Cyrillic characters are actually cast into the petrol tap fitted to the motorcycle
itself, and so will be seen by all owners, regardless of mother tongue.

2.3 Syntax

In Russian, the imperative, being too direct a command, is inappropriate for giving advice or instruction in a
formal context. Instead, in the source text, the function is mainly, although not exclusively, carried out by the infinitive. It is found either by itself, e.g. pri proverke urovnya masla probku ne zavorachivat’ (ST p. 21) [‘When checking the oil level, do not screw in the cap’ (TT p. 53)], or preceded by certain other words: sleduet (approximates to the English modal verb ‘should’) e.g. sleduet proverit’ nalichie benzina v bake (ST p. 11) [‘The level of petrol in the tank should be checked,’ (TT p. 40)]; nado (approximates to ‘must’) e.g. Na smazku nado obrashchat’ samoe ser’eznoe vnimanie (ST p. 21) [‘Very close attention must be paid to lubrication,’ (TT p. 53)];
(‘must not’) e.g. Pri obkatke nel’zya prevyshat’ sleduyushchie skorosti (ST p. 16.) [‘During running in, do not exceed the following speeds:’ (TT p. 46)] neobkhodimo
(‘it is vital to…’) e.g. Regulirovku zazora neobkhodimo proizvodit’ sleduyushchim obrazom (ST p. 28) [‘Use the following method to adjust the clearance:’ (TT p. 62)]; or nuzhno (‘need’) e.g. v etom sluchae nuzhno prezhde vsego proverit’…(ST p. 25) [‘In such cases, the very first thing to check…’ (TT p.58)]. The third-person plural is also used – e.g. neglubokie rytviny i vyboiny pereezhayut na tikhom khodu (ST p. 15) [‘Shallow ruts and potholes should be crossed at low speeds,’ (TT p. 45)] – although with less frequency than the structures just discussed.

As can be deduced from the previous paragraph, I have deliberately decided not to be bound by one equivalent English construction when translating each occurrence of a given Russian construction. Such a mechanistic approach, while extremely faithful to the source text structure, runs grave risks of producing an unnatural target text. Instead, I have preferred pragmatic equivalence, using the constructions identified in section 2.1.1 as being typical of instructions in English. In contrast to the source text, then, there are fewer examples of ‘must’ or ‘need’, and a greater occurrence of imperatives.

Particular mention must be made of the Russian reflexive verb, which is used not only to give instructions – e.g. Vremya ot vremeni […] reguliruetsya natyazhenie trosa (ST p. 29) [‘cable tension should be adjusted at intervals’ (TT p. 64)] – but also to describe components and processes: e.g. Pitanie dvigatelya proizvoditsya ot dvukh karbyuratorov K-37 (ST p. 21) [‘Fuel is supplied to the engine by two K-37 carburettors’ (TT p. 54)]. Again, I have tended to translate such occurrences by opting for pragmatic equivalence on the basis of the factors discussed in section

The greater freedom of Russian word order means that Russian is susceptible to long, unwieldy sentences, which, if translated literally, would sound distinctly unnatural. To help avoid such infelicities, therefore, I have
been ‘bold and free in recasting grammar (cutting up sentences, transposing clauses, converting verbs to nouns, etc.)’ [19]. Instruction 3 in the section Zapusk dvigatelya (ST pp. 11-12.) [‘Starting the Engine’ (TT p. 41)]is a case in point, in
which I have reordered the sequence to run chronologically. Baker states that:

‘temporal order can, of course, be modified or even reversed provided appropriate signals
such as tense markers or time adjuncts are used to clarify the alternative ordering’ [20]

as in the source text, but I feel
there is little to be gained and much to be lost by remaining faithful to the original word order.

2.4 Quantities

To Anglophone readers of a certain generation, particularly those in the somewhat conservative world of classic vehicle enthusiasts, imperial measures are more familiar than metric measures. Conversions have, therefore, been calculated and placed alongside the original metric quantity in the main body of the text, in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to consult a conversion table in the appendices. In some cases, e.g. tyre size or power output, there is still one standard measure (despite the growing use of metric equivalents over recent years), which I have retained. For the purposes of this dissertation, where the American measure differs from the UK measure (e.g. the gallon), the UK measure has been preferred, as
otherwise the text would risk being swamped with conversions (a decision has yet to be taken about the version to be published commercially).

Quantities have been rounded to the most appropriate significant figure (a speedometer calibrated in
miles, for example, is incapable of showing a clear difference between 6.25 mph (10 kph) and 6.875 mph (11 kph)). The two speeds would be rounded down and up, respectively, to 6 mph and 7mph. No further rounding is performed, however, to avoid amplifying the inherent danger of inaccuracy, thus resulting in some rather
unusual quantities, e.g. a range of 6-13 mph (10-20 kph) for travel in second gear during the initial running-in period (TT p. 46), rather than the more intuitive 5-15 mph.

2.5 Inconsistencies and Ambiguities

A number of apparent inconsistencies remain in the source text, e.g. the oil filler plug and oil drain plug have different numbers in figure 6 and in the accompanying text (ST p. 21). This is easily solved with reference to the diagram. The mismatch between the maximum speeds given on ST p. 4 and ST p. 16 has been resolved by the author’s knowledge of his K750 – a sister bike to the M-72, built in Kiev (see section 1.1). These are minor points, and are straightforward to rectify. I feel that not to do so through motives of fidelity to the
original would contradict the strategy adopted elsewhere.

As is to be hoped in a piece of technical writing, there is little ambiguity, although the tyre pressures given (ST p. 7) are problematical, as there is no indication of when the extra pressure should be added, and this
form of presentation is unique in my experience of the genre. From my general motorcycling knowledge, I know that higher tyre pressures should be used on a heavily laden motorcycle, and so, in keeping with my aim of providing usable information for readers of all expertise levels, I have preferred to acknowledge
the ambiguity and add a note to this effect in the target text (TT p. 35), rather than avoid comment.


Initially, the manual was electronically captured, with the twin aims of protecting the fragile original from wear and tear and of obtaining usable diagrams, and the resulting scans converted through the ABBYY em>FineReader optical character recognition (OCR) program into Microsoft Word
files. These files were then translated using the Wordfast computer assisted translation (CAT) tool. It should be emphasised here that, unlike machine translation, CAT tools still require a human translator to translate the source text.

CAT tools – essentially highly-sophisticated word processors – are the norm in translation today for a number
of very good reasons, among which are the following: they help ensure consistency in the terms used (highly important in technical translations); they reduce the time spent translating repetitious texts; and, by highlighting the segment to be translated, they reduce the strain on the translator of continually searching for a given section of text and the concomitant risk of inadvertently omitting chunks of the original. One danger of CAT use, of course, is that a poor translation entered in a translation memory may be propagated
throughout a whole text, or, indeed, series of texts. However, I felt that the benefits outweighed the potential drawbacks.

Section 6.2 lists the specialist texts which were
consulted in the attempt to understand principles and identify the correct terms for different components: technical translation is one of the exceptions identified by Newmark where accuracy sometimes is reduced to a question of ‘”this word and no other”‘ [21]. The presence of reference works on BMW machines is explained by the similarity between the two marques, as discussed in section 1.1.


We have seen that the source text would have been of great importance to the relatively high numbers of motorcycle owners in the USSR of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Whilst the M-72 motorcycle cannot claim the same kind of significance in any country in the 21st Century, the translation is still important for the Anglophone enthusiast seeking technical information for this model.

We have seen how genre creates certain expectations among readers, and that stable language use (to use Hatim and Mason’s term) is an important attribute of the genre of technical literature written in English. Since retaining the forms of the source text may lead, in many cases, to highly marked use of language, yet dynamic language use is not associated with the genre, we have concluded that pragmatic equivalence is a more appropriate vehicle for conveying the content of our source text, and we have examined some of the
particular problems posed by applying this strategy to the translation.

It is hoped that this analysis has provided both an explanation of and a justification for the approach adopted, and that the resulting translation meets the stated aim of providing usable information in a format similar to
existing examples of the genre. If our enthusiast owner talks about her new manual rather than about her new translation, the attempt can be deemed successful.


6.1 Dictionaries

Wheeler, M., The Oxford Russian-English Dictionary, OUP, Oxford, 1990.

Прохоров, В.Ф., Англо-русский автобронетанковый словарь, Воениздат, Москва, 1961

Кугель, Р.В., Гольд, Б.В., Шершер, С.А., Англо-русский автотракторный словарь, Советская Энциклопедия, Москва, 1971.

Кузнецов, Б.В., Русско-английский словарь научно-технической лексики, Русский язык, 1986. – online dictionary of Russian acronyms.

6.2 Motorcycles and motorcycling

Anonymous, Operating Instructions for the Motor-Cycle ETZ 250, Leipzig, 1985.

Bacon, R., Restoring Motorcycles 1: Four-stroke Engines, Osprey, London, 1988.

Bacon, R., Restoring Motorcycles 3: Transmissions, Osprey, London, 1989.

Harris, I., Myth and Reality in the Motorcycle Subculture, University of Warwick, 1986.

Pirsig, R., Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Vintage, London, 1999.

Shoemark, P., Motorcycle Carburetor Manual, Haynes, England, 1981.

Walker, M., BMW Twins, Osprey, London, 1992.

Wellard, J., ‘Ural 750 Twin – Russki Romper’, Used Bike Guide, no. 165, October 2002. – website of the UK Ural dealers. – Irbit Motorcycle Factory English language website. – Irbit Motorcycle Factory Russian language website. – Ural Motorcycles in Australia website. – UK Department for Transport statistics website. – Andrei Bogomolov’s Russian automotive history website.

6.3.Translation Theory

Baker M., In Other Words, Routledge, London, 1992

Hatim, B., and Mason, I., The Translator as Communicator, Routledge, London, 1997

Hatim, B., and Mason, I., Genre, Discourse and Text in the Critique of Translation, in:
Fawcett, P., and Heathcote, O., Translation in Performance, University of Bradford, 1990.

Newmark P., A Textbook of Translation, Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 1988


Click on the note number to find the reference in the main text.

See e.g. Wellard, J., ‘Ural
750 Twin – Russki Romper’, Used Bike Guide, no.
165, October 2002, p. 17.

Department for Transport figures.

Harris, I., Myth and
Reality in the Motorcycle Subculture, University of
Warwick, 1986, p. ix.

cited by Andrei Bogomolov.

Motorcycles in Australia.

Hatim, B., and Mason, I., The
Translator as Communicator, London, 1997, p.6.


Anonymous, Operating
Instructions for the Motor-Cycle ETZ 250, Leipzig,
1985, p. 40.

Hatim and Mason, p. 27.

Baker, M., In Other Words,
Routledge, London, 1992, pp. 113-114.


Baker, p. 114.

Newmark, P., A Textbook
of Translation, Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead, 1988,
p. 151.

Pirsig, R., Zen and the
Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Vintage, London, 1999,
p. 34.


Pirsig, p. 34.

Hatim and Mason, p. 24.

Hatim and Mason, chapter 2.

Newmark, pp. 11-12.

Hatim and Mason, p. 27

Newmark, p. 153.

Newmark, p. 159.


Baker, p. 239.

Newmark, p. 30.