How to Decode Technical Translation Like an Expert


How to Decode Technical Translation Like an Expert
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

4/27/2015

When it comes to technical translation, quality is essential since a cheap and/or an inaccurate report rushed to meet a deadline causes more harm than good. That's why translation services provided by knowledgeable humans are more reliable than using automated tools.

How to Decode Technical Translation Like an Expert

Qualified TranslatorsIt's risky to use a translator who admits to not being unfamiliar with one of the languages in a translation. Quality translators only take on assignments they know they can handle and don't try to deceive clients just to get business.

Make sure from talking with references that the translator understands both languages thoroughly. Even slight errors in translation can hurt your credibility, especially if the grammar is improper. Usually, large reputable translation services can help direct you toward accurate translators.

Translating New TechnologySometimes it takes a while for new technical terms to enter dictionaries. Translation services, however, use strategies to account for missing words that cannot be readily defined or decoded.

So, the translator makes one of the following decisions when confronted with new words that do not have equivalents in another language:

  • Keep the word in its original language
  • Use it as a translated descriptor
  • Create a new word

This decision is made while discussing appropriate terminology with the client, who has the final say. Working with someone who is fluent with specific industry terminology in addition to each language involved in the translation process helps you avoid wasting time and money on correcting mistakes.

Deciding from the start the number of languages to be translated will help narrow your selection for qualified translation services.

Graphic ConsiderationsWhen presenting graphics in a report; remember that different cultures may view the same image differently. In China, for example, the color yellow is related to pornography. In Arabic countries, if women are not wearing headscarves, the photo may be considered inappropriate. That's why it's important for translators to be aware of cultural taboos and customs.

Variables of Source TextOnly about 5 to 10 percent of technical translation involves terminology while the rest of the translation relies on comprehension of culture, syntax, and industry considerations.

Remember that the meaning of a word in one industry might be completely different for another industry, which is why it's helpful to use translators who create glossaries based on client input at no additional expense. Glossaries can also be used for Translation Memory (TM), which allows software to recognize repeated words in a consistent way throughout manuals.

Numbers and units of measurements will inevitably come into play in fields such as engineering. That's another reason why the translator needs to be an expert in whatever technical area they are translating. One missing zero, for example, can be disastrous.

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Director of Operations for GMR Transcription Services, Inc an Orange County, California based company that has been providing accurate and affordable transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed success at GMR for almost ten years now and has helped the company grow. Within two years of Beth managing GMR Transcription, it had doubled in sales and was named one of the OC Business Journal’s fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she likes spending time with her husband and two kids.