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Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics (1966)

Chapter: Appendix 2. Defense Language Institute Course in Scientific Russian

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix 2. Defense Language Institute Course in Scientific Russian." National Research Council. 1966. Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9547.
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"Appendix 2. Defense Language Institute Course in Scientific Russian." National Research Council. 1966. Language and Machines: Computers in Translation and Linguistics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9547.
Page 38

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Appendix 2 Defense Language Institute Scientific Russian Course The following information, provided by the Defense Language Insti- tute, West Coast Branch, concerns the 10-week DLIWC Scientific Russian Course. The purpose of the course is to train students to read and trans- late Russian technical and scientific texts in their gelds of interest with the help of dictionaries and to speak and understand conver- sational Russian to a limited degree. The length of the course is 10 weeks; 5 days per week; 6 hr per day. For teaching purposes the classes are divided into sections of usually not more than eight students. The teaching materials used during the course consist of four textbook volumes specially developed for this course and dealing with essential Russian grammar, speech patterns, and exercises in the translation of scientific texts. A special reference volume is also provided. Recent Soviet publications on scientific topics in the students' particular fields of interest are introduced in the form of supplementary training materials. The teaching materials for the Scientific Russian Course were developed so as to ensure maximum effectiveness. After an initial period, during which the essentials of the Russian language are taught, the students switch over to teaching materials entirely corresponding to their aims and specialities. The course is, there- fore, flexible and can accommodate specialists in various fields of scientific knowledge. In conformity with the objectives outlined above, the main empha- sis in the implementation of the course is laid on reading and on translating from Russian into English. The course involves the study of essential structural patterns of the Russian language that are indispensable for the understanding of scientific texts. Since Russian is a highly inflected language, special stress is laid on the recognition of morphological change 37

in words and its importance in grasping the exact meaning of sentences. This is especially important in texts involving mathematical formulas and definitions where any distortion of meaning might easily lead to entirely erroneous conclusions. While speaking and aural-comprehension abilities are not specially emphasized in the course, the students are taught to speak and understand conversational Russian, though only to a limited degree. Work in this particular field involves the use of tape re- corders. At the end of the course the graduates have a vocabulary of accroximatelv 750 words used in everyday exchanges. . ~ ~ With respect to scientific terminology, the course features the study of so- called "cognates"—internationally used terms derived from the same root. The aim here is to teach the students to recog- nize such words without the help of dictionaries and thus to facilitate and speed up their work. After completing the course, the graduates are able to read, understand, and translate very complex texts in their fields of interest. The first scientific Russian course was implemented at this Institute in 1961. In the past 4 years, this 10-week course was attended by specialists in space mechanics, applied mathematics, electrical engineering, chemistry, physics, and aeronautics. In view of the important scientific and technological achieve- ments that have been taking place in the Soviet Union in the last few decades, it is hardly necessary to stress the utility of a course that makes it possible for the specialists to learn in a comparatively short time enough Russian to read contemporary Soviet scientific literature in their fields of interest, and thus to keep abreast of developments in that country. 38

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