Nuances of technical translation

Globalization has opened access to the international market for factories, companies and corporations and has forced business leaders to take a fresh look at the problems of translating technical documentation. The sad experience of numerous companies has shown that not every translator of a broad profile is able to cope with such a task. What requirements are imposed on technical tests, where to find a specialist and how to evaluate the quality of translation - let's understand more details.

Technical translation issues

Technical translation is the translation of scientific and technical documentation, manuals, instructions, memos and company charters.

Often texts of this direction are highly specialized and abound in specific terms.

To freely operate this kind of terminology it is not enough to be a high-class translator or even a native speaker - it is necessary to have a special education and to understand all details of the translated terminology.

The problem of technical translation is complicated by the humanitarian mindset and the education of linguists.

Most of translators are well versed in the intricacies of language and poorly - in technical terms.

In translation practice, specialists with dual education in linguistics and technical specialties are particularly highly valued.

However, it is difficult to find such interpreter even in the bureau of a large city.

Most broad-based linguists have to use industry dictionaries, specific literature on the topic, or similar instructions and materials to carry out technical translations.


Specifics of technical texts

The translation of technical texts is carried out in a scientific style. It should be as dry, emotionless and impersonal as possible, and the use of artistic expression and expressions is unacceptable.

A competent specialist also takes into account the form of the translated text: instructions, memos, manuals and other materials have their own stylistic features, which also have to be taken into account during his work.

Unlike artistic, technical translation does not allow free interpretation, sub-interpretation, significant loss of content and any other liberties of presentation.

The specialist needs to strictly follow the semantics, style and logic of the text, if possible, maintaining the structure of its individual elements. In other words, if the translation sentence sounds as good as it does in the original language, there is no point in rebuilding it.


Nuances of technical translation

Areas of technical documentation use

Technical documentation is the prerogative of transport companies, aviation, automotive, oil and gas, machine-building, chemical and IT areas.

This does not mean that there are no memos or instructions in the humanities. They are, but written in a more live language, without the use of specific terms and concepts.


Specialist requirements

Discussions on the education of a technical translator remain relevant. At the same time, while some experts tend to think that technical savvy is more important than thorough knowledge of the language, others argue that having deep linguistic knowledge, you cannot worry much about the semantic component. Still others are convinced that only bilinguals, who are also a specialist in the technical industry, will cope with the translation.

Work in tandem is considered to be the ideal option. In this case, a narrow specialist with low or medium language knowledge translates specific terminology, and the linguist corrects the resulting material in accordance with the rules of the recipient language.

The difficulties in translations of technical texts to other languages prompted many corporations and companies to hire a full-time translator, firsthand familiarized with the peculiarities of a specific business.


Types of technical translation

It is not always the task of a linguist to translate a technical text verbatim or completely: sometimes the management of a project or organization may require a shortened version of some documentation.

It would be useful to know that the technical translation can also be performed in the form of:

· Annotations

· The abstract

· Notes

· Terminological squeeze.

In most cases, the abbreviated version is a part of the full text or thesis for senior staff.


Errors and inaccuracies

Sometimes technical texts containing factual errors, inaccuracies and typos fall into the hands of an interpreter.

In such situation, the translator should not forget that he is just a hired staff, who is obliged to reliably and correctly translate the text, fully preserving its meaning. Even if the material carries knowingly false information.

At the same time, professional ethics allows translation specialists to draw the attention of the responsible person to the shortcomings and errors in the original documents.


Graphic information

Translation of technical documentation is often complicated by graphs, block schemes and tables, drawings and more. And they also require adaptation to a foreign-speaking audience.

It is also necessary not to forget the translation of metric units, which can pull not only a huge number of edits, but also a complete recalculation of parameters, as well as the recompilation of the rest of the graphic and theoretical information. Doing so on its own initiative without the management, company representative or technical specialist of the company is strictly prohibited.

What exactly to do in the situation of non-conformity of metric units is decided individually.

Requirements for text

Translation of documentation, instructions and other types of technical texts must meet a number of requirements:

· A specialist is prohibited from using conversational structures

· There should be no innuendo, false interpretations and willful abbreviations in the text

· The abbreviations need to be deciphered

· Phrases and sentences must be built in an impersonal manner

· If the customer does not specify otherwise, the translation uses quotes such as "chevron"

· References to international and national standards must be specified in the original language with bracketed deciphering

· Footnotes and additional decryptions are required in the places of language lacunae

· If terms or individual lexemes in translation language allow for ambiguous interpretation, the correct meaning can be written in footnotes marked "translator's note."

Text evaluation criteria

Scientific and technical translation in any language of the world has only one reliable method of control - review by specialized highly specialized specialists.

Any software checks and editorial subtrame will not give a complete picture of the purity and quality of the technical text.

Translation should be:

· Adequate

· Written in good language style

· Free of typos and omissions

· Engineering and literate

At the same time, it must satisfy these items regardless of the quality of the source and personal relationships with the customer.


Based on all the above, we can conclude that technical translation is a well-coordinated work of several specialized specialists. In the final version, the text should fulfil its educational function, clearly, reasonably and unequivocally convey specific information and industry terms.

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