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Technical Translation

22nd August 2020
Reading time 2 min
Technical translation

Technical translation involves translating copy that is written by industry professionals and includes specialised terminology. Professional technical translation agencies employ translators with specialisations who are fluent in the source and target language and are also experts in the industry that the copy pertains to. Therefore, general translators may not have the capacity to create translations, nor are familiar with the terminology needed to effectively deliver the best copy. Because the translator is not an expert in that particular field, they will have to learn new terminology, which is time-consuming and susceptible to inaccuracies or errors.

”There are also laws that govern various industries, such as media, tech, finance and manufacturing. Therefore, standard translations are not applicable because of the need for precise wording without any error.”

Technical translation is a high-skilled service, but important in globalised communications. Here’s three reasons why:

Accuracy Technical terms have precise meanings. For example, a common technical document is a user manual or product guide. Let’s say that the guide provides information on installing a new machine in a factory or complex software. It is of utmost importance that the correct terminology be used throughout the manual.

Differences in format Aside from their expertise with precise terms, technical translators must also be familiar with various formatting. For example, financial translators must know that numbers are not always shown the same way in different languages. A very costly error could be made if commas and periods were interchanged as in EU versus US formatting.

Compliance Accuracy is not only important when communicating messages, but can sometimes keep clients from breaking the law. Technical translators are sometimes tasked to work on patents. A mistake in the terminology might mean that a brand must forfeit rights they were expected to have when expanding in a new market. Technical translators who are specialised in this field should understand the strict details of the law.

The most common error categories:

Translation errors

Legal translation is the translation of copy within legal systems, which may differ in each country. Legal translators must be fluent in the source and target languages and have substantial knowledge of the original country and target country’s legal system in order to be accurate. Since laws are formed depending on society and cultures, legal jargon is also regional. The linguist must understand “legal speech” in both languages to accurately translate the content.

There are also laws that govern various industries, such as media, tech, finance and manufacturing. Therefore, standard translations are not applicable because of the need for precise wording without any error. Mistakes can cause delays, financial loss and even lawsuits. International institutions, global companies, law firms and court registries often require a technical translation who specialises in law. Content in this field often includes witness statements, legal rulings and precedents, filed patents, transcripts, official reports, financial documents and contracts.

Cultural Nuance Technical translation requires complex terminology, but effective translations require more than just accuracy and understanding the terminology. Localisation services are needed. Technical translators must understand the important cultural subtleties in the target language in order to create content with the correct tone and with total accuracy. Since linguistic tones differ from language to language, it is vital that translators recognise and acknowledge the tone in both the source language and target one. Giving instructions may seem clear and concise in one language, but seem rude in another.

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