Technical translation is the most specialized type of translation. It’s about documents containing scientific information, technical data, and technological subjects. That’s why technical document translation should be carried out only by linguists who have a thorough understanding of the technical subject matter together with considerable expertise in the terminology of the specific area.
Technical document translation is vital for manufacturers and tech-related businesses that aim to expand globally to showcase and promote their products and services across international markets.
The common types of technical documents include software strings, user manuals, patents, feasibility studies, material safety data sheets, site surveys, product specs, in addition to service, maintenance, and policy manuals, technical reports, training materials, product labeling, packaging, and catalogs, and many more.
So, does technical translation involve a specific process in the background? Let’s dive deeper.
It seems that all types of technical document translation follow the same system and are comprised of 4 basic steps: Analysis, Comprehension, Technical Translation and Revision.
First, the client would submit the technical content to their technical translation partner. The translators inside (our translators are all native!) would start with evaluating the text, and, if the project is accepted, everything will move forward like a hot knife through butter ─ from analysis to comprehension, technical document translation, revision, submitting the translated content to the customer, receiving and implementing the feedback (if any), and finally sending the translated content back to the customer.
So, is this all? Yes, there’re still several elements behind the technical translation project. So, to have a full picture, let’s dive deeper into some of the main terms.
First ─ Translation glossary
What is it? Whether you call it Terminology Collection, lexicon, or Term Base, a translation glossary is a wordlist of translations and terminologies that are frequently used within a specific technical subject.
What does it contain? It usually contains the main terminology in the source language along with the approved translations in the target languages. Also, you can find in the glossary such metadata as the part of speech, definition, context, etc., that provides the linguist with information that helps him or her ─ especially with words that have similar meanings.
What are its main benefits? Consistency. The glossary enables translators to ensure that whenever a key term exists, in any language, it will be used consistently and correctly. It’s also vital for maintaining consistency when more than one translator is working on the technical content in the case of tight deadlines. Without a good translation glossary, the situation might turn into a sort of chaos, with every translator coming up with a different translation of the same technical term!
Moreover, the translation glossary helps to reduce the time of translating technical documents in addition to cutting the cost of translation.
Second ─ Translation Memory
What is it? You can describe the Translation Memory (TM) as a databank that stores segments of text (sentences and paragraphs) that have been translated before. With each segment ─ or entry ─ in this memory containing the source and the target items, it’s called a pair, or a translation unit “TU”. This ensures that the segments of text that have been translated before will not be translated again.
How does it work? It creates a database of source and target segments that have been translated before by linguists. These “pairs” will be reused when the same phrases pop up again in the same document or any new document.
What are the major benefits? Translation memory expedites the entire translation process. It also helps to reduce the overall translation costs. Further, it makes it possible for translators to increase productivity and maintain consistency, and, thus, it increases translation quality at the end of the day.
Third ─ Machine Translation
What is it? Machine translation (MT) is the automatic translation of text from a source language into a target language.
What are its main benefits? Machine translation can provide you with a fast translation of large swathes of text.
When to use it and when to not use it? When it comes to such content as message boards, manuals, forums, presentations, and social media updates, you may aim to just get the general meaning. In this case, machine translation can be used to provide an acceptable translation of the general essence of the text. Machine translation can also provide businesses with a quick translation of user-generated content such as customer reviews and online comments.
On the other hand, you can’t use machine translation for sensitive technical materials or culturally sensitive content, simply because software translation will not understand cultural intricacies, or relate words to their context. Moreover, translation machines can’t translate the content style and tone.
It’s a common question that corporate clients usually ask ─ with a single answer!
Where should we go for translating user manuals, software strings, CAD drawings, computer product spec sheets, technical journals, and the like?
The answer is Contentech. So, why?
We’ve got the most important asset, our technical translation team.
We stand out from the crowd thanks to Contentech’s policy of relying on expertise and specialization. When it comes to technical translation, the title “general translator” exists nowhere in our company.
Each of our technical translators is a subject matter expert. Each one of them should have high qualifications, rock-solid knowledge in the terminology of the given subject, and hands-on experience in carrying out this specific branch of technical translation.
Moreover, we are known for our impressive track record of delivering top-quality technical translation services to top-notch clients across the globe.
Contact us today for your free quote.