Technical translation sounds very specialist and expensive to the uninitiated. However, the reality is that all translators specialise. Part of the expertise that you buy from a translation agency is our ability to select the appropriate translators for each project.
Complex technical translation projects
Some jobs may require a mix of expertese, for example when we translate e-commerce websites requiring technical engineering knowledge, legal translation and marketing translation. Legal translation requires a particular mindset and approach on the part of the translator, its all about fidelity to the original source language, whilst marketing is about conveying concepts and ideas in the most relevant and compelling way for the target market. This is quite apart from the different areas of vocabulary we need to use. Tone of voice, and the register of the target text are also important. The solution is usually to use different translators with different areas of specialism for different parts of the site.
Translating terms and conditions
Terms and conditions should be translated by a legal specialist. The original text should normally take precedence in cases of dispute. You probably also want us to give a clear and accurate rendering of the text. This will make it more accessible to your customers.
Working with engineering documents
With an engineering text, it is important that the translator understands the specialist terminology used. They need to have the necessary expertise to make an accurate translation. We select translators and proofreaders for engineering projects based on the required technical expertise. There are two routes to training for engineering translators. They could be engineering graduates who have then trained as translators. Alternatively, language graduates may specialise in this area of expertise during their translation training.
Knowing the source language
When ordering a translation, do give the fullest information possible. This is especially important if the text is in a language other than English.
We’ve had a few instances of clients sending us documents unsure of the source language. For languages we work in regularly we can identify the language, but sometimes this can be tricky. For example there are many languages which are close cousins like Dutch and Flemish. A translator would know instantly which language the text was written in, but a project manager may not.
The more specific you are when ordering, the easier we can help. We need to understand your requirements. How will you use the translation? For example a document for internal use and understanding, does not require the same approach as a document for publication.
Text with hidden challenges – a second source language
Last year we were working on some medical translations Spanish to English. In the middle of a large set of medical records, were hand written notes in another language, Catalan. This wasn’t obvious before working on the document. Fortunately the lead translator on the project also translates from Catalan. Therefore there was no delay for the client. Imagine our translator didn’t understand Catalan. We would have had to resend the document to a second translator, introducing delay and additional cost for the client.
The simplest way to avoid these types of issues is to give us the fullest information you can. We need to know the purpose of the source text, and area of technical specialism, the target audience, as well as how the translation will be used.