Scientific translators are highly skilled in their specialist technical areas. All translators specialise, but scientific texts require particular terminology skills. We are ISO: 9001 certified for translation services, and work with many top companies.
So what makes good scientific translators? Here are the 5 key skills we look for:
Trained professional linguist.
Some competitors work with scientists who are not professionally trained translators, we don’t do this. Our team are always professionally qualified in translation. This may be a first degree in translation, but often they have a post graduate level qualification in translation. Why is this important? Quite simply, translation is a specialist skill, requiring specialist training.
Understanding two languages is a start, but a translator is no use without the specialist knowledge of your sector. All translators specialise, and you can be confident that our team have the necessary skill to tackle your text. Many scientific translators are either science graduates, who have then trained in translation, or linguists, who have settled on the specialism. Either way, a good translator is a good terminologist.
Translation software and IT skills.
Scientific texts are often long, and depending on the subject matter, there can be a lot of repetition. It is vital that your translator uses technology well, so that you get the best result. Our translators use translation memory to aid their work. This isn’t the machine doing the translation, but rather they build a glossary of terminology, and a database of their previous work. We then use this database to ensure consistent and accurate translation.
A good translator is a good researcher. Even when working in their technical specialism, new terms occur all the time. In some areas such as cutting edge scientific research, there may not be an equivalent term in the target language. A good scientific translator is a good researcher. They will research their specialism as they work, and will also be well read around the subject.
Exceptional language skills.
Any professional translator needs to have very strong written language skills in both languages, but nowhere is this more true than with technical scientific translations. Writing good clear copy is a challenge in your native language, but the translator also has to have the skill and understanding to extract the meaning of the original language, and then express it in the target language. The usual convention is that translators work into their native language.
Nuts about your specialism
Okay, I said 5 at the beginning, but this 6th skill is also really important. like all translators, a scientific translator has to be nuts about their specialism. They need to love reading scientific texts, understanding their meaning, and expressing them in the target language.
So do all of the above ensure a great translation? Well, the short answer is “no”. Or rather, “no, but it helps”. The translator is only one part of the translation process. The vital, and central part, but a part none the less. Here are two other vital aspects:
A good source text. If the original writing is bad, the translation won’t be any better. This is true of all translation, but scientists can sometimes not be the best technical writers. A good translator still needs a good text, it is their single most important tool.
All translations should be checked independently. We have different levels of QA depending upon your requirements. Even the best translators can have a bad day, or misinterpret an aspect of the text.