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Thread: What is this spectrometer actually doing?

  1. #1 What is this spectrometer actually doing? 
    Forum Sophomore jgoti's Avatar
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    Hello:

    I am revising a Spanish translation of a text on X-ray fluorescence analysis and I have stumbled on what I think is a bad translation.

    My question is about the actual function of the spectrometer in this case.

    The way I understand it, the spectrometer here is used to block certain light spectra and allow only a given band to pass. Right?

    I have highlighted the part that was translated wrong into Spanish (in my view at least).

    I would appreciate your input.

    Thank you.


    Here's the TEXT:

    X-Ray Fluorescence analysis
    The analyzer probe does the concentration measurement based on X-ray Fluorescence.

    An X-ray tube is used as a radiation source.
    The measurement cell has a thin plastic window that passes X-rays from the X-ray tube to the slurry.

    When exposed to the radiation, the sample atoms emit fluorescence radiation as X-ray photons with a certain energy.

    Each element in the sample has its own characteristic fluorescence energy, and the intensity of the fluorescent radiation at the characteristic energy is related to the concentration of the element.

    The fluorescent radiation is measured in the analyzer probe.

    For each element of interest, there is a spectrometer that is tuned to pass radiation that is only within a narrow band around the characteristic energy of the element.

    Thus the detector behind the spectrometer will only receive the fluorescence of the designated element.


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  3. #2  
    KJW
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    Why do you think "tuned to pass radiation that is only within a narrow band" is wrong?


    There are no paradoxes in relativity, just people's misunderstandings of it.
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  4. #3  
    Forum Sophomore jgoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJW View Post
    Why do you think "tuned to pass radiation that is only within a narrow band" is wrong?
    Oh, sorry. I didn't mention that the English version I provided is only the original source text.

    It's the Spanish translation that seems wrong to me and it says something equivalent to "[A spectrometer]... tuned to the passing radiation...".

    That's what seems wrong to me and that's precisely what I am asking about.

    I mean, it would make more sense for the spectrometer to be tuned to "only let through certain spectra" than to what the Spanish translation would imply ("tuned to passing radiation").

    The original text ends in "Thus the detector behind the spectrometer will only receive the fluorescence of the designated element.".
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  5. #4  
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    The Spanish does sound as if it gives the wrong impression (that it is tuned to let radiation pass, rather than being tuned and then seeing whether radiation passes or not).

    It might be worth posting the Spanish text. My Spanish probably isn't good enough to judge but someone else might know.

    You might also want to ask a moderator to add "Spanish translation" or something similar to the thread title to attract the right people. (You can do this by reporting your first post)
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  6. #5  
    Forum Sophomore jgoti's Avatar
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    I think I've sorted it out.

    The translation was wrong after all (I'm correcting another translator's job) because the device is actually tuned to let a certain radiation pass in order to analyse the fluorescence of each sample (in this case, slurry samples).

    The English version, by the way, is a bit sloppy at times as it was originally written by native speakers of Finish.

    Thank you for the input.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgoti View Post
    Here's the TEXT:

    X-Ray Fluorescence analysis

    1. The analyzer probe does the concentration measurement based on X-ray Fluorescence.

    2. An X-ray tube is used as a radiation source.
    The measurement cell has a thin plastic window that passes X-rays from the X-ray tube to the slurry.

    3. When exposed to the radiation, the sample atoms emit fluorescence radiation as X-ray photons with a certain energy.

    4. Each element in the sample has its own characteristic fluorescence energy, and the intensity of the fluorescent radiation at the characteristic energy is related to the concentration of the element.

    5. The fluorescent radiation is measured in the analyzer probe.

    6. For each element of interest, there is a spectrometer that is tuned to pass radiation that is only within a narrow band around the characteristic energy of the element.

    7. Thus the detector behind the spectrometer will only receive the fluorescence of the designated element.
    Having worked with scientific descriptions, procedures etc for many years, I believe that the original English above is poorly written. It also seems "noun-centered" rather than "verb-centered", and noun-centered expressions often require dummy words, and the entire effect makes for tedious reading. A poorly written original usually does not translate well.

    It also leads me to believe that the actual original was written in a language other than English, eg German, or that the original was written by someone whose mother language was not English.

    For example, in the first sentence, the word "does" acts as a meaningless/passive dummy verb to facilitate the use of the noun phrase "concentration measurement". The dummy words "based on" act as a preposition in order to incorporate the noun phrase "x-ray fluorescence" to form an adverbial prepositional phrase to describe how the "probe does the concentration measurement". Very awkward. Instead, the first sentence could more effectively be written as —

    1. The analyzer probe uses x-ray fluorescence (XRF) to measure the concentration of an element.
    For the reasons given above and for other reasons, the rest of the original would read better as —

    2. An x-ray tube produces x-ray radiation, which passes through the thin plastic window of the measurement cell and into the slurry sample.

    3. When excited by this radiation, the atoms in the sample fluoresce by emitting x-ray photons.

    4. Each atom emits x-rays that are characteristic of that element. The intensity of such an x-ray "signature" is a function of the concentration of that element in the slurry.

    5. The analyzer probe receives this XRF and measures the radiation's frequencies and each frequency's intensity.

    6. Each spectrometer is tuned to a particular element by using a plastic sampling window that passes XRF only within a narrow band that includes the frequencies of that element's signature radiation.

    7. In this way, the spectrometer's detector only receives the XRF of that particular element.
    I think I should object to the last part about the detector supposedly receiving the XRF from only one particular element because I believe that the XRF from various elements can overlap. For example, the graph below shows that the spectrum for copper (magenta) overlaps the spectrums for nickel (light green) and zinc (black). So, a window that passes the XRF from copper will also pass some XRF from both nickel and zinc. This makes me question the validity of statements 6 and 7.

    Also, the original is unclear whether a spectrometer contain two windows — one for the x-ray excitation and the other for the XRF, or just one window for both?



    NOTE: Post #5 by jgoti did not exist when I began writing my post. I believe that Finnish is a noun-centered language.
    Last edited by jrmonroe; January 12th, 2014 at 03:23 PM. Reason: To add the note about post #5.
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    Forum Sophomore jgoti's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=jrmonroe;514625]
    Quote Originally Posted by jgoti View Post
    Here's the TEXT:


    Having worked with scientific descriptions, procedures etc for many years, I believe that the original English above is poorly written. It also seems "noun-centered" rather than "verb-centered", and noun-centered expressions often require dummy words, and the entire effect makes for tedious reading. A poorly written original usually does not translate well.

    It also leads me to believe that the actual original was written in a language other than English, eg German, or that the original was written by someone whose mother language was not English.

    For example, in the first sentence, the word "does" acts as a meaningless/passive dummy verb to facilitate the use of the noun phrase "concentration measurement". The dummy words "based on" act as a preposition in order to incorporate the noun phrase "x-ray fluorescence" to form an adverbial prepositional phrase to describe how the "probe does the concentration measurement". Very awkward. Instead, the first sentence could more effectively be written as —
    .
    Hello, jrmonroe:

    Indeed the quality of the original is below average and, as you say, probably written by a non-native to save costs (there are some parts still in Finnish, which I believe is a noun-centered language as you pointed out). Time constraints are the main burden of translation more often than not and having to revise such a bulky text in a few days won't help much with the final quality.

    Thank you very much for your comments.

    jgoti.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    What do you use to translate, Google Translator?
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  10. #9  
    Forum Sophomore jgoti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe View Post
    What do you use to translate, Google Translator?
    The day Google Translator becomes a reliable tool I'll eat my hat (and I'll be out of business).

    So no, I don't use it.
    This translation (into Spanish) was done by a human translator who was probably given an unreasonably short amount of time to have it completed. I'm in charge of the final revision. The English version will most probably make it to the publisher without any revision or corrections. That is if it isn't published already.
    It is probably considered as a kind of source text so it's beyond the reach of any linguist. Too late to go back now.
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