If you are in need of a technical translation, you want to ensure that it is done well. If a translation agency is trying to tell you that they have a plethora of translators that translate especially for your niche market, they are probably extending the truth. A technical translator is usually an all-rounder that has technical knowledge, but if you have a translation that needs to be done in the field of oil pipelines and you are expecting the translator to an “oil pipeline specialist”, you are most likely going to be disappointed. It is not necessary for a technical translator to know your specific field, but he/she has to be familiar with it, have sufficient technical knowledge to be able to understand the text at hand, and do the research that is necessary to find the right terminology, enabling them to translate the text properly.
The key word here is terminology. Many companies, over time, develop their own specific terminology that is, in part, common for their field, but there is also terminology that a person could only know if they specifically have worked at your company. So, how is it possible to ensure that this terminology is upheld? Well, this can be done quite a few ways. If you have a website, this could be given to the translator as a reference. Before doing the translation, the translator would then be able to view your website to become familiar with what your company does. In many cases, this website may even contain the terminology required for the translation.
The easiest way to ensure that the terminology used in the translation is accurate entails providing a terminology list of any technical words that you would like to be translated in a specific way. This can be done by simply creating a two-column Excel file with the source word in the language that is being translated from and placing the requested translation into a second column. If you are not sure about how to do this, ask your translation agency to create a terminology list for you that you can simply approve.
Although translators are not technicians, if they are good, they do have a lot of knowledge on how to translate technical texts, such as brochures, product descriptions, datasheets or manuals. They have most likely translated for a variety of technical fields and have had access to past translations performed by leading companies in various technical fields. Therefore, these translators have seen many texts that are similar in nature to the text you have to translate. Therefore, in many cases, a technical translator can translate a text even better than a technician can, and often, translators find inconsistencies in manuals or product descriptions that are not even noticed by in-house company specialists.
Another thing that should absolutely take place in the case of technical translations is to create a translation memory. This is a small database of stored translations, which can be recalled at any time using CAT tools (Computer-Aided Translations tools). This does not mean that a computer is performing the translation, but these tools aid the translator, providing suggestions on how to translate the text at hand.
Keep in mind, another good reference for the translator would be old translations. Make sure you make the source text (original text) and the target text (translated text) available. A good translator can perform an alignment, which entails matching up the text and storing this information into a translation memory, thus actively utilizing the text for the current translation at hand.
This has the following advantages:
- Consistency is ensured. It makes sure that what is translated on page 2 of the translation is also translated in the same way on page 150 for example.
- Vocabulary terms can be searched for in a translation memory, enabling terminology to be consistent across the board, even in the case of several documents.
- You save money. Think about a datasheet for example. It is a template and once that template has been translated once, it should always be translated in the same way. Do you want to pay to have the template translated repeatedly? No, of course not. That would be absurd. Using a translation memory, the translator can recall the translation and there is very little work involved in doing this. Effort and time equals money. The translator does not have to spend a lot of time to translate the template when it is previously stored in a translation memory and therefore, you end up saving money. To boot, your templates are consistent and always translated in the same way.
Do not be overwhelmed with this information, a good agency will do all of this for you, but it is great to know about this to be able to ask if your translation agency performs these services for you. All this translation technology has the goal of increasing the quality of your translations and reducing the price. Therefore, utilize this technology as much as possible for your operating manuals, handbooks, datasheets and user manuals.
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