Guide to Technical Translation in the Field of
IT and Electronics
In the translation industry, technical translation is seen as a particularly complex field, because it does not only require linguistic skills, but also engineering expertise. If you are planning to translate documents such as instruction manuals or technical documentations, here is your all-in-one guide to technical translation.
Good Working Knowledge
If you are from the IT, semiconductor or electronics industry, you would know that conveying complex messages in a different language involves technical precision and background knowledge of the topic at hand.
Technical translation requires very diligent work as it is crucial that the translated document uses technical terms correctly and consistently. This significantly reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding important documents – especially safety-related ones – as well as any risks associated with such misunderstandings.
The degree of translation difficulty depends on the subject matter. This can vary from a short description of how to install a particular application to lengthy technical manuals. As such, technical translation requires both linguistic dexterity as well as a good working knowledge of the general terminology used in the field.
Types of Documents
Materials requiring technical translation may take the form of scientific, medical, engineering, and technical articles, or product specification sheets. They could also be marketing material on software applications, a user guide, a patent or a technical manual.
Looking for a Technical Translator
Since technical translation is difficult work and requires a certain level of accuracy, you will need to look for a technical translator who is well-qualified in a particular field.
Technical translators may be individuals who have started their career in a particular technical field, such as electronics or semiconductors, then diverted into translation at some point. You may also approach a technical translation agency who can provide technical translation services to suit your needs.
Project Timeline and Costs
Technical translation usually takes longer and generally costs more than general business translation. The extra cost and time will vary according to the level of scientific or technical knowledge required, as well as the availability of specialised translators for the required language. For instance, if there are only a small number of qualified translators for a particular topic and language, the translation endeavour will generally be a relatively more expensive and time-consuming one.
Supporting Resources for Translators
Before translating your technical documents, it is advisable to gather your company style guides and official bilingual glossaries. This helps you develop the specialised terminology needed to ensure that the right term is being used throughout the material.
If you are engaging a technical language partner, provide the translator with these guides to support the interpretation and explanation of technical terms. Other primary tools include translation memory software, which helps the translator build and maintain a repository of frequently-used words and phrases. Such software allows translators keep track of repetitions to improve the quality and consistency of the final translation. However, translation for books, poems, literary text or one-off projects usually do not require such software.
Unlike business or marketing translation, technical translation requires more involvement than simply leaving it to the translator to transform it into the desired target language. It is a multifaceted, collaborative process involving the translator, the original technical writer, as well as a field expert who can ensure that complex technicalities have been preserved in the translation process.
Although your first technical translation project may take time as well as significant financial investments, the initial investment will pay off for future projects, as it allows greater consistency and helps reduce the timeframe required for translation. This will help you save in the overall costs of translation over time.
As a one-stop service provider, elionetwork boasts expertise in technical translation for all of your prospective target markets. To request for a quote, get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.