Volume 6, No. 3 
July 2002

Dr. Claff




Reader Survey Results

Index 1997-2002

  Translator Profiles
Aerial Trap and the Lao People's Republic
by Peter Wheeler

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
What Every Novice Translator Should Know
by Antar S.Abdellah
Translation Economics 101
by Danilo Nogueira
Translator Education
Quality Assurance in Translator Training
by Moustafa Gabr 
Positive Transfer: A Neuropsychological Understanding of Interpreting and the Implications for Interpreter Training
by Lin Wei, Ph.D.

  Financial Translation
Implications in Translating Economic Texts
by Guadalupe Acedo Domínguez and Patricia Edwards Rokowski, Ph.D.
Saisir les subtilités qui existent entre l'anglais et le français ?
by Frédéric Houbert

English to Japanese—to What Extent Can Translation Be Accurate?
by Angela Loo Siang Yen

  Science & Technology
A Translator’s Guide to Organic Chemical Nomenclature—A Fond Farewell
by Chester E. Claff, Jr., Ph.D.

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor

  Translators’ Tools
Translators’ Emporium

Translators’ Job Market

Letters to the Editor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies

Translation Journal


A Translator’s Guide to Organic Chemical Nomenclature

A Fond Farewell

by Chester E. Claff, Jr., Ph. D.

t's been a privilege for eight years to share some thoughts with readers of the Sci-Tech Translation Journal and of the Translation Journal. However, the time has regretfully come to quietly let my cerebral proteins fold into their relaxed lowest-energy state.

There have been some high spots during this endeavor—and a couple of hilarious ones. A lawyer in the Midwest once asked me to tell him whether a lactone was or was not an ester, obviously in his clandestine drug-manufacturing client's defense. He had found his client's starting material for a mind-altering drug in one of my installments! Subpoenas are not for me, and I declined to reply specifically, referring him to the chemistry faculties of his local universities.

I've had inquiries and comments from around the world. I am still sending htmls, one at a time, to a teacher in Italy who has trouble saving them from the Internet. Once a month he asks for the next one. Another teacher, in Spain, uses my columns to teach both English and chemistry. So there has been a good deal of satisfaction in knowing my efforts have been useful.

However, as search engines improve, and the available documentation on the Web proliferates, there seems to be less and less need for what I've been doing up to this point. Furthermore, the emphasis in chemistry has been changing swiftly. Translators are more likely to face documents on environmental remediation than on the research that made remediation necessary at all. More resources of energy and money (and translations) will be spent in the future on cleaning up contaminants than was spent years ago on developing the then-new products and processes now considered dangerous. My local Junior High School has requested bids to remove asbestos, with an estimate of $250,000. I find it difficult to cast off my sense of excitement at what is new and unanticipated, and to accept the cost of "green chemistry," of legislated right-to-know reports, and of litigation over sometimes imagined chemical damage and/or injury. In other words, my age is showing. For example, I don't know what my cholesterol level is, and I don't really care. I don't worry about parts per trillion of organic chlorides in my drinking water. You cannot, after all, legislate against chlorine. It exists, and always will.

And so, good friends, thank you for all your input and feedback over the years. It's been fun. Now I'm going to tend to my pet Baxter in his declining years, enjoy Eleanor's great cooking, and let chemistry wander where it will.

Editor’s Note

On behalf of all of us who have been educated by his series on "Organic Chemical Nomenclature" for the past eight years, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Claff for his dedication and generosity in sharing his knowledge and experience. His articles, written in the precise language of a scientist, yet easily followed by the layman, have been a valuable resource not only for translators, but for anybody interested in the fascinating field of organic chemistry.

My cooperation with Dr. Claff actually started long before he agreed, eight years ago, to contribute a column to the Sci-Tech Translation Journal of ATA's Science and Technology Division. Over 13 years ago, in March 1989, he wrote a short article in the Sci-Tech Translation Journal's predecessor, the Sci-Tech Newsletter, edited by Bill Grimes and DTP-d by yours truly, about "C2 Glycols and Polyglycols and Their Ethers." Although this will irremediably date both of us, I should mention that even before that, in January 1988, Dr. Claff wrote an article in the same Sci-Tech Newsletter extolling the advantages of the Commodore 64 computer. Since then, Dr. Claff has contributed a total of 27 articles, first published in the Sci-Tech Translation Journal and later in the Translation Journal, on Organic Chemical Nomenclature, many of which required considerable research and/or work with specialized computer graphics.

For all these years it has been a great pleasure to work with Dr. Claff. His strict observance of the deadlines, his patience with the errors I've committed while the formatting some chemical formulas, and his constant efforts to improve on his own work were the hallmark of a true professional. I'm very pleased by the fact that he graciously agreed to share with the readers of the Translation Journal any new development in the field of organic chemistry that may be of interest to translators and which he may come across in the future.

Thank you, Dr. Claff, and we look forward to hearing from you in the future!