Translating Technical Documents - Thoughts And Approaches
“Technical translation” can refer to many types of text. Most translation can be considered technical to an extent. There are particular techniques and approaches which translators use when translating technical documents.
It isn’t technical
A lot of potential clients contact us, and the first thing they say is that the document isn’t very technical. If the text is about your specialism, it may not seem very technical. The reality though, is that most documents include specialist technical terminology. A good translator is a good terminologist, and a good researcher. We select translators for projects based on specialism. This is important because a lot of technical terminology can be time consuming to research. It is also important we understand what we are trying to express.
The reality is that most translations have a degree of technical vocabulary. It is therefore important that the translation team understands the relevant specialist terminology. It isn’t just about understanding both languages. We are very careful how we select translators for relevant assignments. It isn’t just based on the languages required, but also the technical specialism.
Different types of translation require a different approach. For example legal translation is often very literal, and is all about fidelity to the original. By contrast, marketing texts are more about the flow and feel of the target language. A key skill for a translator is the ability to say “no” when a document is outside their sphere of expertise.
How do you become a specialist technical translator?
Okay, so you want us to work on your document. What do we look for in a specialist technical translator? Normally there are two routes into the translation industry. People either start as a linguist, or a technical specialist. For example, they may have a first degree in a language, and a masters in translation. Alternatively they may study mechanical engineering, and then a post grad in translation. There is no real advantage to either background, providing they understand the required specialism. Translation isn’t just words on a page, it is about communicating with your required target audience. The translator needs to understand the text they are translating.
Do you need us to translate your technical document?
Ideally we need it in an editable format. We also need your full contact details including company name and trading address. We can then provide a quote and estimated delivery date. Use our contact form to give brief details of the project, or call us on +44 (0) 115 9788980.