- Instruction manuals
- Data sheets
- Assembly instructions
- Product descriptions
- Test reports
- Reference material
- Stock lists
- Technical documentations
- Technical plans and drawings
Particularities of technical translations
The translation of technical texts is generally understood as the translation of reference books, instruction manuals and user handbooks for various commodities, appliances and systems, and instructions for the assembly, installation and operation of plants. It also includes translations of technical specifications, guidelines and norms, technical documentation, technical literature, scientific articles, patents etc. The clients for such translations are generally telecommunication companies, manufacturers of different products or service providers, mechanical engineering companies, energy suppliers and nuclear plants, suppliers of oil and gas, iron and steel works etc.
A high-quality, correct technical translation can only be produced in a specialist translation agency. At specialist translation agencies, applicants have to go through special assessment tests to ensure a consistent high standard.
A special feature of this type of translation is the fact that technical texts contain numerous highly specialized words which are rarely used in everyday language. Every scientific subject area has its own terminology system. Specialist terms contribute to the precise and exact description of the quintessence of the topic at hand, so that the correct interpretation of the problem treated is guaranteed. Situations frequently arise, however, where a technical specialist putting together the text for an instruction manual, or technical documentation for a certain plant or appliance, will use a combination of specialist words or terms borrowed from another scientific field in order to describe the function of the equipment in the most detailed way possible. For this reason, it is very difficult and even impossible to find suitable synonyms in a case like this.
Essential prerequisites for a high-quality technical translation are not just the perfect command of the foreign language and skilled use of specialist terms, as well as experience in preparing texts in scientific style, but also well-developed logical thinking, and profound knowledge of the most important technical disciplines. A technical translator should feel completely “at home” with the terminology of the corresponding specialist field. Here, it is also important to communicate all specialist terminology in such a way that, on the one hand, it complies with the original text and, on the other hand, the translation remains plausible and correct from a technical point of view, and can be understood by specialists without any issue.
At this point, an additional problem arises: the use of technical dictionaries and reference books may not always be helpful for the translator, as there are often numerous ways to translate a single technical term.
For this reason it is of utmost importance to choose a specialist translation agency that specializes in exactly this field of technology and has many years of experience in the subject of the text to be translated. The translator himself should not only work with great precision and take all important details into consideration when translating a technical text, but should also constantly acquire additional skills and “grow” as a technical expert.
What distinguishes technical texts and their translations?
For translations from the technical field, a formal and logical style should be used, which is characterized by precise expressions as well as a restrained, unemotional and impersonal linguistic tone. Specialists responsible for preparing technical texts generally avoid rhetorical language to not interfere with the basic principles of technical terminology – namely, clear and precise representation of thought. This can result in a technical text sounding somewhat dry and clinical.
It should be mentioned, however, that even with all the stylistic differences to “living” spoken language which has a wealth of rhetorical nuances, a technical text can contain a number of more or less neutral figures of speech that produce a certain versatility without detracting from its logic.
In a technical translation, only the grammatical norms anchored in written language are used. Passive and impersonal constructions are very common here. Such texts consist largely of parataxes and hypotaxes (compound and complex sentences), in which nouns, adjectives and impersonal verb forms dominate. Technical documents can contain precise instructions and specifications. Each word and each phrase has a particular meaning and cannot simply be left out or translated loosely.
The thoughts communicated by the author of the text must be conveyed exactly. A good technical translator always remembers that his foremost stylistic priority, when producing a technical translation, is the logical and unambiguous transference of the source text into the foreign language, whilst largely refraining from using literary devices.
The main requirement of this type of translation is great precision in the reproduction of thoughts, leaving no room for different interpretations. A technical translator must always be aware of the fact that not a single nuance of meaning from the source text can be omitted - doing so could lead to the sense of the entire text being changed. This could be extremely dangerous in the case of industrial plants, where incorrect operation could lead to defects in a mass production run of products, to considerable financial loss or even to accidents.
Challenges with the translation of specialist technical texts
In contrast to literary translations, technical documentation is not written by a master writer or a linguistic professional, but rather by an engineer or other technical specialist. For this reason, the technical translator often encounters sentences, or even complete text blocks, that are not idiomatic - grammatically or linguistically - or are even incomprehensible. On the one hand, this is in the nature of the profession, because the excellent knowledge of a specialized technical field does not require linguistic skills. On the other hand, such a hurdle certainly does not make an already challenging task easier for the translator.
The problems of technical translation described above can easily be solved nowadays by entrusting your translation project to a specialist translation agency. In our agency, your text is translated by a philologist and then proofread by a technically specialized editor. This means that any incorrect interpretations in sentences or specialist terminology can be ruled out.
If you contact the international language service provider AP Fachübersetzungen, you will be guaranteed to receive a correct, high-quality technical translation that has been proofread several times and can thus be published without hesitation.
With us, your translations are in the reliable hands of experienced specialists!