Wikipedia says that technical translation serves for exchanging special technological information between the people who speak different languages. When a translator is faced with working with imported technology or industrial equipment, their work can be broken down into several stages:
Written translation of technical instructions, schemes, certificates of quality confirmation, technical passports and other types of technical documentation in a foreign language. Result – files with translated text.
Adaptation of translated materials (grammatical, terminological, meaning). This can include recalculating measuring units (meters instead of yards etc.), editing and preparing the documentation for actual use: formatting graphic pages, schemes in specialized programs, printing.
Linguistic assistance for a foreign specialist (e.g. engineer) who arrived at the factory to carry out an important staff training session. This requires the services of an interpreter.
Each of the listed stages has its own features and specifics that need to be taken into account in order to receive high quality work as a result. That’s why they need to be looked at in more detail.
Technical documents translation
The primary task in case of technical texts translation is to never distort communication of specialized technology. That is why a translator has to understand the meaning of a translated document. Otherwise, their work would be unsatisfactory. And it’s worth it to understand why.
A linguist who is only good at social sciences is unable to work with the large amount of synonyms presented in politech terminology. For example, the word “socket” is most often translated as a “cable connector” or a “plug”. But in technical literature that word can have a lot of synonyms: Edison screw, rope socket, pipes knocking against each other, explosion camera, ledge, nest, fossa articularis, eye socket, panel, coupling, and many other things. One can select a general direction – a sort of nest or a hole to which you can connect something. In the translation, these “deviations” are unacceptable. It is impossible to guess which synonyms are correct. Only in the case of the work being conducted by a specialist with a degree in engineering who perfectly understands the meaning of the text it is possible to do a good translation. But the problem is that many engineers have issues with foreign languages, especially when it comes to grammar. Even if we’re talking English, there are problems there: distorted stylistics and writing style – the person doesn’t feel the linguistic nuances.
It is impossible to compile all the useful skills within a single person. For that reason, several people at once work with documents in professional translation agencies. First, a text is sent to a translator, then to an editor. Years of uninterrupted labour allow to achieve effectiveness; translator and professional recruitment is constantly going on.
Tips for client
As a test, you should send out a single page of a text for translation to all agencies that piqued your interest. Serious professionals won’t refuse to be tested, and you’ll receive a clear example of work.
Choose those firms that have a lot of experience.
Assess the speed of work offered by the agency. If it’s too short for such a serious text, turn them down. It’s impossible to do a high quality translation of a document with the correct terminology in short timeframes.
The challenge of working with technical texts is also that all the documentations about machines, mechanisms and equipment are usually quite lengthy. They can have hundreds, or even thousands, of pages. But a client usually gives a small timeframe – only a couple of weeks. For that reason, large translation agency projects are conducted by a whole team and not by a single specialist. Such an approach allows for efficiency, but what is one to do with the fact that each translator works slightly differently? In order for the terminology to be uniform across the entire text, firms use programs for preserving stylistic and lexical composition of documents, and sometimes editors.
Final preparation of texts
A frequent occurrence is the prevalence of graphic elements in documentation (schemes, graphs, illustrations). In order for a client to not have to check the original, the agency also employs design and formatting specialists. Professionals perform technical translation from any text format, and they also work with specialized formats (e.g. AutoCAD). Formatting is paid for separately, because it’s an additional service. Creating a mock page layout is a complex process, and sometimes, a formatter’s work takes up 30% of the budget of the entire translation.
Currently, only a diverse approach towards technical translation can ensure the high quality of work for the client. Such translation requires well-tuned teamwork of editors, translators, designers, formatters and project managers. As a result, one can get a full document one can use without looking back at the original.
In addition, the agency can carry out software localization. Here, not only a local interface translation is required (menu, buttons), but also preservation of the entire set of functions of the program.
When people talk about translation of software and web sources, they imply strict and clear requirements. Translation should not only be literal, but have a certain number of symbols in order to fit in within the window. Afterwards, the work goes to programmers who replace the texts on the website or within the program. Sometimes, programmers don’t know the language well enough, so they have to be controlled at all times. The sum of these facts allows for understanding that localization isn’t that simple of a process.
Oral technical translation
That joyous moment within the company when the documents are translated and the equipment has arrived, together with all the guides and brochures. But it is also necessary to ascertain this number of technical parts. For this very purpose, foreign firms send their professionals along with the equipment. The buyer’s task in this case is to hire a professional translator.
Practice shows that not every translator can work at factorial conditions. They have to have experience of working at a factory in order to quickly and without a dictionary navigate the names of the details. Secondly, “fussiness” of the specialist are unacceptable, because they have to work in harsh conditions, with the noise of the factory, dust, various temperatures.