Trends in patent translation (EN)

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Trends in patent translation (EN)

Post by jamesbowers » 13 Jun 2019 12:49

Hello fellow patent translators,

I'm wondering about trends in English patent terminology. I've been specializing in patents for about four years now, and I feel like I'm noticing a trend toward greater readability and away from some clunky terms that used to be standard practice.

The most common example for me these days: "a plurality of" is (was?) the standard way of saying "more than one" in patents, but now I see clients wanting me to just use the term "multiple."

Has anyone else come across this? I'm trying to feel out if I should just shift my usage toward more readability in general and drop more of these old terms (which would be just fine by me).

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Re: Trends in patent translation (EN)

Post by svernoux » 22 Jun 2019 10:34

Hi James,

Interesting point. I do not really have an answer since I'm not into patents, but I always had a keep-it-simple approach to translation. Concise, synthetic style, as much as can be. I'm rather into legal and technical stuff, but legal is also a good example of an area with lots of (dusty) traditions and frozen phrases. Nonetheless, it is perfectly acceptable to simplify it, to some extent. I do it and many other people do it, and many readers are grateful. Sure, there are also a lot of complicated terms that you can't avoid or that are really colloquial, but a number of them can be avoided and sentences can be simplified as long as there's no loss of meaning.
In your case, I'd really say that replacing "a plurality of" by "multiple" is no big deal at all. Besides, if your clients ask for it, then why bother? I mean, I bother when clients ask for something that is plain wrong or makes no sense, but if it's OK, then just go for it.
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