Technical Language Translation:  Importance, Uses, and Benefits of Technical Translations 2024
8 September 2022

Technical Language Translation: Importance, Uses, and Benefits of Technical Translations 2024

Language skills are insufficient in technical language translation because it requires translating complex documents in fields, such as finance, engineering, chemistry, software, and healthcare. 

Technical translators should not just be able to understand the meaning of the technical documents that they are working on. Thus, businesses need more than only language experts.

As technical writing requires technical language, a translator also needs to have a solid understanding and knowledge of the right terminology in both the source and target language. 

But as technical terms have a generally similar meaning between languages, translating them is easier and quicker.

The primary challenges of technical language translation

However, there are still challenges in technical language translation. For one, there should be subject expertise in the translator that you would be hiring for the technical translation project.  

First, one must have subject expertise in order to produce effective results. Second, they should entirely understand the document that they’re working on before converting it into another language.

Technical writing cannot be translated on a word-for-word basis; thus, the professional translator must be able to interpret the content and then create a new meaning out of it based on the target audience and ensure that it fits the target language.

You might also realize that it is hard to explain a technical subject to the target audience; thus, you must also recognize that translating technical documents need more than just fluent language knowledge to ensure message delivery. 

As without understanding how the minds of people interpret the information you give them, issues might arise, especially in technical language translation of safety guides and medical journals.

That is why technical translation experts do not just rely on language expertise but also on their technical communication skills and cognitive psychology skills when translating complex technical documents. 

So without even saying, translating technical documents must be done in a manner that will be easily understandable in the target language.

Technical Language

Technical language translation definition

It involves translating materials related to technical fields, including legal, medical, scientific, and other technical subjects/industries.  This type of translation requires a technical, not a general translator.

Technical translators understand the subject and topic along with the technical terms, jargons, and industry-specific terms – in the source and target languages. 

Most of them are language experts who are also possessing advanced language skills in a specific field aside from their language fluency.  

However, there are also technical translations that do not require a degree in the specific field, and one example is the translation of a product specs sheet. Even so, translators still need to possess some working knowledge of the words, phrases, and terms that a particular field uses.

A few examples of technical documents requiring technical translation include medical, scientific, technical, and engineering journals.

What about the cost of technical language translation?

Generally, technical translation projects cost higher than general language translations because they can also take more time to complete. 

There can also be additional cost and time to complete such tasks, depending on the level of difficulty including technical knowledge or scientific knowledge required.

Factors such as the demand for technical language translators and availability of the required translator can also affect the cost and time to complete a technical language translation job.

Technical Language Translation Types

What are the areas that technical translators work on? The following are only some of them, but it does not comprise all. It is only for your reference.

Patent translation

This is one area of technical translation that requires a deep understanding of creating and writing patents as well as subject expertise. It is because a patent document is governed  by both practical and legal requirements.   

The translator also needs to have a certain level of artistry along with the right technical and scientific knowledge to become an effective patent translator.

User manual translation

Translating user manuals also requires some specialized skills and knowledge depending on the field. It also involves an objective conveying of information without any subjectivity from the writer. It is because a technical content’s primary goal is to deliver information objectively to help users follow directions.

Without even saying, user manual translation involves the use of plain language text, making it a good translation material of automated translation tools – and then later being a subject for machine translation post-editing by a human translator to check for accuracy.

CAD drawing translation

Specialized translators are required for this project because they must know how to work on specialized file formats. 

There are also additional steps that are involved in the integration of localized measurements, labels, as well as visual elements, not to mention the text expansion required. In some cases, the requirements for this technical language translation are like for software strings.

Technical Language

Software strings localization and translation

Specialized knowledge in this kind of project is also needed for the success of the translation.  It is because the localization and translation of software strings need special knowledge and treatment. 

While the user interface may seem straightforward and easy to understand, the translator working on this project should know how to deal with software strings. They should also know the expectation for both language and terminology in the region or locale.

As specific languages expand when they’re translated, there are some terms that may be abbreviated. E-learning programs, apps, and software also need localization engineering in order to maintain nonlinguistic content aspects during the process of translation.

Technical document translation

This type of translation includes translating of technical documents, which contain information related to the field.  Its complexity involves not only translating sentences, phrases, and words, but the professional translator must also consider particular aspects of the subject on hand.

Technical text translation

This type of technical translation assumes the correct terms definition so they won’t lose meaning.  A few examples of these include construction, automotive, and other specialized subjects.

For this reason, the translator working on the project should have specialized knowledge in the field because there are times when technical terms don’t have their counterpart in the target language.

Adjustment, repair of equipment, and user manuals require translation to be simple yet specific. For this reason, the translator should have both linguistic skills as well as the ability of expressing technical or complex things in plain and straightforward language.

Equipment catalog translation, on the other hand, needs that translators should collaborate with the specialists of the client’s company because this type of translation will require following internal standards on the documentations, translation, and glossaries of the company.

Importance of Technical Translation

Hiring the right service provider of technical language translation matters for every business to ensure that they’re getting what they paid for and quality outputs, which are important for all industries, including medicine,  engineering, science, healthcare, and real estate.

Technical translation is also essential for technical documentations, especially when businesses are looking to comply with local rules, regulations, as well as international and local standards. 

For every business process and aspect of operation, businesses must present proofs of accuracy, including on user manuals, patents, and health and safety instructions.

Otherwise, businesses that do not comply with local and international standards might risk losing money, business opportunities, or paying fines or dealing with lawsuits. 

Technical Language

It is why businesses should invest and look for high-quality technical language translators to help them with technical language translations and documents that can protect their company from losing money and resources for not having accurate health and safety instructions, for instance.

Accurate and high-quality translations also display a level of professionalism to clients, business partners, and employees.

They can also show that you are concerned about and value the experience of your customers when it comes to engaging with your brand. You can make them feel more comfortable if you would communicate with them in their language.

Skills required for technical language translation

Technical language translation needs quality assurance processes for accurate results aside from subject matter expertise and linguistic knowledge. 

It is why businesses should invest in the right translation service provider with ISO 17100 Certification ensuring that the multilingual content will have optimum accuracy and meet highest industry standards.

Technical language translation also requires knowledge and specialization in order to ensure that there will be proper technical flow in the output even if it seems that technical language is literal or straightforward.

Technical text also requires a deep and clear subject or topic understanding. For instance, using general translators to translate for electrical items might not be enough if they don’t have specialized knowledge of the correct terms that will describe them.

So when you require technical language translation of content and documents, it is best to leave them to technical translators. They are not only familiar with the technical terms, but they also understand the topic/subject, ensuring that the output will be clearly understandable and accurate.

In addition, businesses of a specific technical industry should use translators with knowledge on particular jargons and specific terms because general translators might not be able to deliver precise results if they don’t have niche knowledge. 

Thus, if you’re translating medical documents, look for medical translators. The same goes with legal translation. You should find legal translators with expertise in the field.

And to comply with the requirements of technical language translation, translators make use of computer-assisted tools that help them provide excellent results especially when working on documents containing complex terms and phrases. 

They make use of translation memory tools to streamline work and ensure the translation’s consistency, especially when working with a large amount of technical documentation.

But as technical translation is more complex than general translation projects, they cost higher, and they tend to be more time-consuming since translators will be dealing with complex texts. Thus, businesses might not be able to get quick turnaround as they would normally get for general translation projects.

FAQs

What’s technical language translation?

Highly specialized text translation that can include translating documents in fields, such as construction, agriculture, engineering, medicine, and others.  Every industry has their terminologies and jargon, which the translator should be familiar with to deliver the best output.

What are common technically translated documents?

User manuals, technical instructions, patents, CAD drawings, design documentation, product catalogs, quality control protocols, technical company websites and so on.

Who needs technical language translation?

People who need it include scientists who want to stay updated in the latest news about a specific field activity. Students who want to improve what they know about a particular subject in order to write their thesis or paper more effectively. 

Other people who might also need translating of technical documents are professionals working with equipment whose manual is written in another language other than their own.  These include adjusters and technologists as well as users of computer or household equipment.

Technical language translation made easier

As there could be a massive amount of material for translation, technical language translation itself becomes challenging. 

So in many cases, some people have the tendency to repeat text across different translation projects, meaning they could be paying a translator for the same task repetitively.

Fortunately, there are now translation technologies, including translation memory that allows users to create terms bases and glossaries of all the technical terms – for every language. 

It simply means that these repositories are always accessible whenever needed, eliminating time-wasting repetitive translations.

Today, there are also automatic translation tools that can offer accuracy for technical translation, which contains simple and straightforward language, allowing technical translators to remove the first draft of the translation, and then becoming more like editors and proofreaders, also called machine translation post-editing (MTPE).

Need technical translation? Order today!