How To: Successful Technical Translations
Technical translation is the specialized interpretation of documents that are written in technical language, Often, it is concerned with elaborating on the applicability of information of a scientific and technological nature.
It goes without saying, therefore, that technical translators need to be individuals who are well- versed in the intricacies of the industry or technology in question. They have to be highly experienced experts in the field who have honed their writing skills in their preferred specialization.
Industrial and manufacturing sectors are the largest consumers of technical translation services. Some of the material translated in this sector includes instruction leaflets, user manuals, financial reports, minutes of proceedings, administrative policy manuals and internal notes.
For a translation project to be successful, the project manager and the translator must work in tandem. In this article, we look at the steps you need to take in order to achieve a successful translation.
This includes analyzing the material that needs translation and having it in a readily editable format. This is the time to compile the relevant resources and any background information pertaining to the company product in question
Understand your content
As a project manager, you should understand the text in need of translation and reasonably anticipate some of the queries that a translator might have regarding the content. This will enable you to answer such questions with greater clarity.
Identify your audience
For both the project manager and translator, it is crucial that they understand the content’s target audience as this will inform the tone to be applied to the translated works. For example, if the target audience is fairly inexperienced with the technical aspects involved, you might consider substituting some of the text with images.
Find a qualified translator
For project managers, this is of vital importance because technical translation deals with niche markets. The translator you choose must be an expert in the particular field as well as proficient in the target language.
Avoid machine translation
Though there are more and more machine translation options cropping up, machine translators are yet to attain the precision and eloquence of humans on matters of translation. There are certain intricacies of language that the human eye catches that machines do not.
For translators, maintain a ‘translation memory’
When working on a project as a translator, always maintain a database of your previous works. Since technical translation is a heavily linguistic exercise, these previously translated works will help you cut down on your running time and improve efficiency, especially if you are a specialist translator with repetitive tasks.
Maintain open lines of communication
For both the translator and the project manager, it is important to maintain open lines of communication throughout the exercise, to enable you to address crucial questions and clarifications as needed.
Supply all reference material to the translation team
As the project manager, always strive to supply all the information that may prove necessary to the translation team.
Both the project manager and the translator need to ensure that the translated works resonate with the target audience and is relatable.
Always stay on point
Use simple language and avoid idioms. It is always best to keep the text short and concise. This is particularly important if the target audience consists of lay people
Track all changes
Edit the draft translated work and keep track of the changes made. This will make it easier to catalog the translation journey and keep tabs on all developments along the way.
If possible, include a glossary of terms
Since the main text aims for precision and clarity, you may not be able to define some of the technical words that invariably pop up from time to time. A glossary of terms at the end of the text will serve to define these terms to your reader.
Have the translated works proofread
When all is said and done, have the draft proofread by an independent person to test its linguistic integrity. Here, attention to detail is critical.
Preserve all the drafts
In the event that further edits are necessary, always preserve all drafts. This is particularly important for the translator as it is a testament to the instructions issued by the project manager.
Conduct linguistic quality assessment
Once you feel you have the final draft on your hands as a project manager, test the accuracy of that draft even further, by conducting linguistic and functional reviews.In the end, having an organized system of technical translation maximizes the benefits you reap from the translation. it also obviates unnecessary reviews and amendments of the content in the future.