The term “specialized technical translation” refers to translating texts of a strictly technical/specialist nature into another language. Such texts can include manuals, guides, specifications, product sheets, etc.
These are typically documents produced by those in highly niche industries such as machine design, robotics, oil and gas, engineering, and more. The language used is therefore very specific and full of technical terms and concepts.
It goes without saying that this type of document requires a translator who specializes in the subject matter.
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Who can do technical translation?
Every field has its own specialists and this also applies to translation. Three areas of expertise are required do highly specialized translation:
- technical/specialist knowledge;
- technological skills.
Naturally, these first areas are fundamental to all professionals in the translation world. Native-level knowledge of working languages and mastery of translation techniques are the cornerstones of the trade, acquired through academic training and, most importantly, through experience in the field.
Technical and specialized skills are the extra component that is necessary for those who want to work in this specific field. A technical translator possesses in-depth knowledge of their field at both a terminological and conceptual level. Translating a document of this kind requires knowledge of its jargon and, above all, understanding of its content. Only those who know the subject matter, as well as the language and culture of those the translation is intended for, will be able to faithfully convey the text’s meaning and, at the same time, make it easy for the new audience to understand.
Finally, technological skills have also assumed an important role in the language industry. Use of translation technology is especially prevalent in the technical sector, where the high rate of repetition between one version of a document and the next makes these texts particularly suitable for using CAT tools and Machine Translation. This does not mean that having access to these technologies automatically makes it possible to produce a professional translation. It is still essential to involve a human specialist to ensure high-quality work. Translators are much more adept than machines at deciding on which term is most appropriate in a given situation or at immediately grasping a nuance or play on words, due to the translator’s ability to read cultural, as well as linguistic context.
Professional translators are therefore the ideal people to turn to for a professional translation that is appropriate and faithful to the original.
Staying true to the original text
Faithfulness to the original text is one of the crucial characteristics of specialized technical translations because of the nature of the information they contain.
Documents that most often require translation contain explanations or instructions on the use of machinery or equipment, so it is of paramount importance to translate them correctly. An inaccurate translation or even a simple oversight can compromise the correct interpretation of instructions, potentially causing business loss, property damage, injury or even death.
The translator therefore faces a twofold challenge: on the one hand, to faithfully reflect the content of the original text, and, on the other, to adapt it to the target linguistic and cultural context so as to make it perfectly accessible and usable for the target audience.
Faithfulness to the text does not mean literal translation. Terms often have multiple semantic equivalents, so it is not always easy to choose the most suitable solution in each case. It is necessary to have thorough knowledge of the industry, as well as of the end user’s customs and frame of reference. If the user is accustomed to a certain technical expression, then it is best to stick to the jargon they understand so as to make the content more accessible.
At Way2Global, we have an extensive network of native translators who specialize in a wide range of technical fields to ensure specialist translations that are faithful to the original, while embracing the jargon used by new audiences.
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