As we discussed in our previous post on technical translation, the translation of technical documentation, such as instruction manuals and procedures, instructions for use, etc., is one of the most frequently requested services in specialised translation companies and, specifically, here at Tatutrad.
Defined as one of the branches of specialised translation, technical translation is characteristic of the engineering, automotive, electronics, mining, telecommunications, metallurgy, construction, heavy machinery, industrial and farming sectors, and numerous other related sectors. We’re talking about a type of translation that stands out for the language used in the original text, which is usually relatively specific and employs terminology that is not common in everyday language.
We also mentioned that the types of technical texts that tend to be translated include user and instruction manuals, patents, technical product specifications, user guides, assembly manuals, works procedures, etc.
In this respect, it’s important to emphasise that this task has to be undertaken by professional translators, as there is no room for terminological errors that could result in a completely different understanding of the entire text and, therefore, what is being referred to.
This is in line with the conventional view, whereby terminology is thought to pose the biggest challenge for professional translators when translating a technical text.
That said, it is not the terminology per se that effectively determines the difficulty of a text, but rather the thematic area.
Specialised documents always cover a specific thematic area, with concepts related to that field that are, above all, interrelated. Therefore, if neither the source text nor the related concepts are understood, the task of translation becomes impossible.
We’ve already mentioned some of the thematic areas within the scope of technical translation, such as engineering, computer technology, automotive, etc. Many of these topics fall under one of the fields which is undergoing major development on an international scale and has an increasing presence in the export sector: new technologies.
New technologies are areas of knowledge in which new concepts are constantly emerging, and translators must be able to keep up with this rhythm.
These areas offer endless examples of technical translation and where technical translators must keep pace with the speed at which they evolve. The pace at which they develop makes reflecting the new terms that appear in publications or a terminological corpus more difficult.
This lack of time is one of the aspects that further complicates the task of a technical translator, who is obliged to compensate with exhaustive documentation.
Documentation enables the professional translator to gain knowledge of the thematic area and master the specific terminology.
In terms of terminology, the tools that tend to be considered most useful for technical translators are:
– Terminological resources, with information on specialised terms (glossaries, specialised dictionaries, etc.)
– Specialised documents, with insights into a specific discipline (such as monographs, manuals, research articles, etc.)
– Bibliographic sources, with information on the specific documentation available for each subject area (catalogues, libraries, etc.)
The conventions of the textual genres in each of the languages in the translation pose another challenge for technical translators.
Knowing both the source and target text conventions will enable translators to gain an in-depth understanding and makes for optimal wording in accordance with the genre norms.
Mastering the conventions of textual genres, in both the source and target language, is key, particularly when translating patents. If a translator is required to translate a patent into Spanish for use in Spain, the target text must adhere to the norms regarding the presentation of patents as dictated by Spanish legislation. If the translator is unaware of these norms, the result of the translation will not be as expected or as agreed with the client, given that it won’t be functional.
These are some of the challenges faced by technical translators on a daily basis, but they aren’t the only ones.
As we touched on at the start of the article, technical translation is one of the main sources of work here at Tatutrad. The precision that is characteristic of the field of new technologies, and therefore its texts, coincides with the meticulous way in which our team of professional translators at Tatutrad works.
If you require technical translation services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our contact form and we’ll assist you in anything you need. Our command of terminology bases and documentation skills will enable us to carry out the agreed assignment, in addition to reflecting the objectivity and clarity characteristic of all technical texts in our translations.