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août 22, 2019 |

Why Is Technical Translation Important?

Technical translation involves specific documents usually produced by professionals with a high level of expertise in their fields. Translators who work in this niche handle texts about the practical application of technological information or scientific research.

It’s a challenging job that calls for an in-depth understanding of technical documents, their nature and specific requirements.

Technical translation is necessary for multiple fields, from engineering to construction and healthcare. Any errors in the translated texts or missing information can easily lead to costly lawsuits or the need to retranslate your company documentation. 

City Council Blocks Project Due to Missing Translation

Thinking about cutting corners by not translating the documentation for your materials or equipment? That could cost you way more than what you would have paid for translation in the first place. 

In New Zealand, the builders of a 20-store block of apartments got lost in translation and now keep exchanging emails back and forth with the local authorities. The company that works with a Chinese steel supplier can’t provide all the quality control documents in English, and this is slowing down the local authorities. 

The builders decided not to translate all the documentation due to possible high costs (over $20,000). So, they blanked out the Chinese text and provided a “comprehensive statement” instead. The Wellington City Council didn’t appreciate the shortcut and asked for additional documents, despite being “satisfied with the design and construction of the building.”

The block is almost finished structurally, and the builders are now expecting the city council to sign off the compliance code. Yet every time they seem to reach an agreement, the parties clash on the missing translations. 

When they removed the information in Chinese, the construction company altered the original documents. This keeps the authorities from moving forward with key procedures and slows down the building project. 

As you can see, translation services aren’t the best place to cut corners, especially when you’re handling technical documentation. While it may seem like a smart way to save resources, it can soon backfire on you easily–even more so when looking to achieve compliance. 

When Companies Need Technical Translation

Companies need technical translation services when they buy from foreign suppliers and are required to document internal processes for compliance. They should rely on professional translation every time they’re doing business with international partners. 

When selling products and services outside national borders, your company should be able to provide buyers with complete documentation in local languages.  

Technical translation can be applied to many types of texts, from operation instructions to specialized websites. By far, the most common are software strings, patents, and user manuals. 

Software strings

Software translation and localization require a minimum level of technical knowledge. Translating software strings is a specific area of technical translation. In this case, translators don’t always operate with technical terms, but they do need to know how to handle strings. They should also be familiar with the terminology and how the program interprets strings in both the original and target languages. 

Patents

Linguists who translate patents are often Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). They’re also highly-skilled in writing patents, a niche where legal and practical requirements are extremely rigid. 

That’s because patents need to include a series of technical details, as well as possible future applications of the product described without disclosing all the relevant information. 

User manuals

Translating user manuals demands specialized knowledge in specific fields, as well as the ability to express complex concepts in simple terms. It’s a lucrative field, as most manufacturers and technology firms are always in need of writing and translating user manuals in multiple languages.  

Technical Translation Requires Specific Skills

Technical translation is an area that needs specialization to ensure that the correct technical flow is in place. This specific type of language service is never easy, despite appearing to be direct or even literal.  

The nature of the texts to be translated often requires an above-average understanding of the topic. For example, general translators wouldn’t necessarily know the correct terms to describe electrical or mechanical items regardless of their language skills. 

Not only does an excellent technical translator know the technical terminology, but they also understand the subject and make sure that the translation is easy to understand as a whole. 

Furthermore, every industry that relies on technical translation services operates with specific terminology and sometimes industry jargon. People with no connection to the niche won’t be able to deliver accurate translations. That’s simply because they aren’t familiar with the terms used by doctors, engineers, constructors, so on and so forth. 

To meet the requirements of technical translation, specialists usually rely on CAT tools. Machine translation enables linguists to provide excellent language services even when working with complex terminology. A comprehensive glossary of terms and an excellent translation memory ensure the consistency of translation. This is essential in technical translation, where linguists have to handle vast amounts of documentation. 

As it requires specific skills, technical translation is often more expensive than other types of translation services. Also, depending on the complexity of the source texts, it can be time-consuming, so you can’t expect fast turnarounds. 

Why Is Technical Translation Important?

Technical translation services are vital because they ensure you get quality work on your documentation. That’s essential in all industries, from healthcare to real estate. 

Technical documentation is necessary when looking to be compliant with local and international standards. From patents and user manuals to health and safety instructions, these documents are proof of accuracy for every operation and business process. 

When you lack the requested paperwork, you risk losing business opportunities or, even worse, getting fined or shut down by authorities. Investing in high-quality translations for your technical documents means building a safety net for your company. At the same time, it’s an excellent way of showing your clients, employees, and business partners your professionalism.

A good translation shows that you care enough about the people you work with to give them accurate information in native languages and make them feel comfortable.

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