Imagine a world where language barriers didn’t exist. A world in which people from all corners of the earth could communicate with ease and without misunderstandings. Sadly, this is not our reality – yet.
Despite valiant attempts at translation, communication breakdowns still happen far too often. But what if there was a way to break down these language barriers and improve communication for everyone involved?
Technical translation can be that solution.
What is Technical Translation?
Technical translation involves the process of translating technical documents or texts from one language to another.
It is described as a specialization in translation that involves translating words produced by technical writers, or more specific texts that relate to technological subject areas or texts that deal with the practical application of scientific and technological information.
The field of technical translation encompasses a wide range of disciplines, from science and engineering to medical data sheets and beyond. Technical translations are sets of specialized terminology that are performed on a case-by-case basis.
Technical translation is more than just accurately translating target languages and key technical terminology, it also requires an in-depth understanding of the subject matter.
Technical translations are by nature very precise and require a high level of accuracy, which is why they should always be done by professional translators or technical writers.
Types of Technical Translation services
There are many different types of technical translation services, including:
- Software strings
- User manuals
- Website translation services
- Scientific Manuals
- Document translation
- Instruction manuals
- Engineering plan
- Legal documents
- Technical reports
- Marketing materials
- Software codes
- And more!
Process of Technical translation
The process of technical translation can be complex, but it generally includes the following steps:
A glossary is a collection of translations, which may consist of a variety of metadata – such as context, definition, part of speech and key terminologies that are commonly used as tools for eliminating uncertainty in the translation process and shortening translation time.
It is frequently used to lower translation costs by reducing translation time.
A glossary is created to ensure consistent translation throughout the project and is typically created by the client or the translation agency.
A translation memory tool works by compiling a database of the source language and the target phrases that have already been translated by the linguist in question. Afterward, these can be reused whenever the same phrase appears in the same document or a different one.
Here, the project is translated and then stored in a Translation Memory (TM), which can be used for future projects. Where this memory is leveraged, the project can be completed quickly.
Editing and proofreading
The translation is edited and proofread by another translator or language expert to ensure user cohesion and clarity.
The document is formatted to match the original one, including page layout, word count, and style.
The final translation is delivered to the client in the desired format.
Why Technical Translation is Important
There are many benefits of technical translation, but some of the most important ones include:
Improved communication between businesses and their international clients
Communication is key to success. For businesses to succeed on a global scale, they need to be able to communicate effectively with their international clients. Technical translation can help them do just that.
Efficient Workflow=Wider Outreach
A more efficient workflow would eventually lead to a wider outreach because documents can be translated quickly and accurately.
For instance, Art of War (by Sun Tzu), is one of the most popular military and business applicable strategy books ever written. It has been translated into over 20 languages, making it accessible to a wider audience.
Improved customer service and Retention
Because technical translation can help businesses better understand the needs of their international customers, it can also help them provide better customer service.
For instance, Coca-Cola, one of the most successful multinational companies in the world, has been able to provide excellent customer service in over 200 countries by translating its manuals, recipe books, and other materials into over 50 languages.
Larger Business Expansion
Technical translation is an essential tool for businesses looking to succeed on a global scale. By breaking down language and translating it into other languages, businesses can make this information accessible to a wider audience.
Improved accuracy and understanding of technical documents
When businesses can accurately translate technical documents, it can improve their communication and understanding of the specific information available to them. This, in turn, can lead to improved accuracy and efficiency in the workplace.
Thorns/Challenges of Technical Writing:
Form and Context
Technical documentation by nature can be very long and complex, making them challenging to translate. This problem is related to the language structure, technical terms, syntax or linguistic features in a technical document.
For example, a sentence in English might be direct and to the point, while the same sentence in Spanish could be much more complex and detailed. This is just one of the many challenges that technical translators face daily.
Another challenge of technical translation has to do with context. A lot of times, it makes use of technical terminology(ies) that might not be familiar to the average person. This can make it difficult to understand let alone translate accurately.
Styles and format
Technical translation requires technical terms written in a very specific style and format. This can make them difficult to read and understand, especially for someone who is not familiar with such terminology or technological information.
For example, a software manual might be written in a very technical and detailed way, while an instruction guide could be more straightforward.
If you were to translate this manual to another language or convert it into a different format, it would be very important to maintain the same level of detail and accuracy. Otherwise, the meaning of the document could be lost in translation.
Sometimes, technical documents may have a specific word count or page format that needs to be followed. This could make it difficult to translate the document into another language without changing the original word count or page format.
Technical translation is a cost and time-consuming process, which can be challenging when working with tight deadlines. In some cases, businesses might need their documents translated very quickly, but this is not always possible.
Professional technical translators need time to accurately translate documents, so it’s important to plan ahead when you need a translation.
Most times, user manuals or other technical texts can be expensive, depending on the length of the document and the amount of research required. In some cases, businesses might need to hire multiple translators to work on a project, which can increase the cost.
It’s important to find a reputable and professional technical writers/translation company that can provide translations.
Having technical knowledge is highly important otherwise, you run the risk of receiving poor quality translations that could damage your business reputation. Make sure to do your research and choose a company that you can trust.
How Technical Translators Prepare
Do you want to ensure that your technical documents are accurately translated? If so, there are a few things you can do to prepare for this process.
Identify your target Audience
The first step as a technical writer is to identify your target audience. This will help you determine the level of detail and complexity that is required for the translation.
If you’re targeting a general audience, then target languages don’t need to be as technical. However, if you’re targeting an industry-specific audience, then the translation of technical texts should be more detailed.
Make sure your documents are easy to understand
Before you hand over writing jobs/documentation(s) for translation, make sure they are clear and concise. This will help the translator understand such words and provide a more accurate translation.
If your document contains industry-specialized terminology, try to explain it in simple terms. This will help the translator understand the context and provide a more accurate translation.
Provide background information
If you have any background information or documents that could help the translator, make sure to provide them. Create a glossary of terms that need to be translated. This will help the translator understand the context and provide quality translation.
Do your research
When choosing a translation company, make sure you do your research. Read reviews and ask for recommendations to find a reputable company that you can trust.
AI/Machine translation Technology in Technical Translation services
There is a lot of talk about AI these days, and how it can be used in various industries, including translation.
Machine translation systems by nature are equipped with more sophisticated algorithms and more efficient analytical and updated statistical datasets, allowing them to produce a quality translation.
Skills in this field require a technical translator to be well versed in a solid technological background as they may choose to incorporate Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) or Machine Translation (MT) depending on what niche or creativity level the document may demand.
They also have to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in the industry they are working in so that they can produce up-to-date translations.
AI has a large bilingual database containing industry-specific terminology, strings, glossaries, and translation memories, as well as translation memories themselves.
While AI technology has the potential to revolutionize the translation industry, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain limitations to what it can do.
For example, AI can’t yet replace the need for human skills and knowledge when it comes to translating technical documents.
They are not the best approach for every project, but they can be extremely useful in some situations, and the best results are obtained when they are used in conjunction with human technical translators.
Whenever machine translation is used in the process of technical document translation, the translation must always be thoroughly reviewed by an expert specialized technical linguist before being released.
The best technical translation services providers will assist their clients in determining when it is appropriate to use human and machine translation.
Using machine translation for some user manuals, for instance, is inappropriate because they are too important. Whereas for others, because of their high volume and low importance, post-edited machine translation can help reduce costs.
That being said, AI can be used to help speed up the translation process by providing suggestions for certain words or phrases. It’s also important to note that AI is constantly evolving, so we will likely see even more advancements in the use of AI in translation in the future.
Technical translation is a complex job and a challenging process. But it can have a major impact on businesses.
If you’re considering using technical translation for your business, it’s important to choose a reputable and professional translation company. And be sure to provide clear and concise instructions to the translator.
By doing so, you can ensure that your technical translation project is a success.
This is where the expertise of a professional technical translator comes in handy. A good technical translator will have extensive knowledge of the subject matter, skills, and will be able to quickly identify any potential challenges that might arise during the translation process.
Don’t let language barriers hold you back—use technical translation to overcome these obstacles and achieve the success you deserve!