Kozo Igi, PhD and Mizuho Iwamoto, PhD presented the JLD workshop, “Terminology-Focused Basic Chemistry.” This workshop provided a general overview of chemistry terminology important for scientific translation.
During the first half of the workshop, Dr. Igi covered basic chemistry terms and concepts. He began by explaining the different branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, etc.) as well as the differences between basic chemical units (elements, atoms, molecules). He also introduced the various types of chemical reactions, including acid-base, oxidation-reduction, substitution, and addition reactions. Next, Dr. Igi described how chemicals are named, beginning with the prefixes for alkanes (meth, eth, prop, etc.), as well as the difference between alkenes, alkynes, and alkyl groups. He proceeded to discuss how organic substances are classified (alcohols, ethers, aldehydes, carboxylic acids, esters, amines, amides, aromatic compounds, etc.). Finally, Dr. Igi summarized essential chemical laboratory techniques, including NMR spectroscopy, UV spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, HPLC, gas chromatography, and titration. He closed by offering a list of reference materials useful for chemical terminology.
Dr. Iwamoto started the second half of the workshop by highlighting the broad significance of chemistry in numerous academic fields. These fields include life sciences such as pharmaceuticals and medicine; environmental topics such as industrial waste, recycling, and toxicity tests; and scientific patents. Dr. Iwamoto then discussed how certain chemical compounds create confusion during translation; specifically, how the word order for chlorides and bases is reversed between Japanese and English, how esters and salts often have the same names, etc. She provided a list of terms that are often confused (ex: in chemistry, the term “preparation” is usually 調製or 合成instead of 作成or 作製). Later she showed English sentences with original Japanese translations and revised versions of those translations, describing why the revisions were necessary in each case. Lastly, she clarified the difference between the terms “accuracy” and “precision,” the former referring to a value that is close to the “true value,” and the latter referring to multiple values that only vary slightly from one another. Dr. Iwamoto closed by stating that chemistry is fundamental to all scientific translation and that scientific translators should have a high-school level chemistry text book available as they work.