Technical translation: cutting-edge methods to avoid loss of quality

Technical translation: cutting-edge methods to avoid loss of quality
18.01.2021 | Technical translation

A quick guide to accurate technical translation

The need for high-quality technical translation has been growing since it is one of the most demanded services after legal translation in most European countries. Accuracy, clarity, and simplicity are some of the terms that define the quality of this type of translation service.

 

Good technical writing practice

According to the 2018 European Language Industry survey, manufacturing, life sciences, and automotive ranked among the top demand for translations in 55 respondent countries, some of them located outside of Europe. The survey also showed that quality requirements are one of the main concerns for translation service providers for both translation agencies and freelancers.

The answer to increased demand in terms of quantity and quality is to provide highly competitive technical translation by following best practices in technical writing. The technical writer aims for:

  • Clarity
  • Simplicity

As defined by YourDictionary, "A good technical writer can make a difficult task easy and can explain complex information quickly."

To ensure accurate translation, the technical translator must ensure that the same brief message is communicated to consumers who do not speak the technical text's original language by applying best practices before and during the actual translation of the technical document.

 

Best practices in preparing to translate a technical document

In his book Translating Technical Documentation Without Losing Quality - What You Shouldn't Spoil When Translating User Manuals and Online Help, Marc Achtelig advises technical translators to pay special attention to the text before they start translating it.

Quite often, the translator is one of the first readers of the technical content and can give an authentic assessment of the text. If any of the instructions sound unclear or ambiguous, the translator should ask the author for clarification.

The translator's goal is to produce a translated version of a technical text that is easy for the end-user to understand. It would help if you avoided ambiguity in the translated text, and this begins with a critical reading of the original text provided.

In case of doubt, the translator should contact the client until all issues have been resolved, and the actual translation process has begun. Good communication between the parties is the basis for a high-quality end product.

The translator should also provide any terminology or other useful reference material in advance. A glossary of terms can be incorporated into a translation memory, which can reduce the cost of future translation projects.

 

Best practices during the translation of a technical document

Technical translation is not as exciting as literary translation. It aims at informing and educating the end-user. Simplicity and clarity are two main aspects to ensure the quality of the translated text.

Best practices for technical translation services aim to avoid ambiguity and provide clear instructions that are easy for the user to follow. We achieve this by doing the following:

 

  • Avoiding long and complex sentences. A technical text aims at providing clear guidelines. The content should be presented in short and simple sentences using simple grammatical constructions. Using non-standard and complex constructions to convey the same message as a simple phrase seems counterproductive.
  • Eliminate misunderstandings by using the active rather than the passive voice and explaining what you are referring to. Don't use several nouns in a row, as quite often, they confuse the reader.
  • Using the same terms, phrases, and parallel constructions. You don't need to show your knowledge of the language by using synonyms in technical translation. It is quite normal to use the same word twice in a sentence or two consecutive sentences as it contributes to the clarity of the message. Parallel constructions are also useful for readers because they make the text predictable and therefore improve its readability.
  • Be consistent. Quality technical translation consists of consistent grammatical, orthographic, and semantic structures. When translating multiple documents for a particular client, translators should make sure that the technical terminology is also consistent.
  • Avoid redundancy in the form of repetitive expressions, superfluous expressions, pompous writing, or meaningless modifiers.
  • Adding syntactic symbols, such as word or punctuation marks, to help avoid ambiguity. In this case, adding more characters improves the quality of the translation by making it more readable.

 

Components of quality technical translation

Technical translation deals with texts that have practical application of specific information. Consequently, when translating, it is necessary to provide the end-users with content that allows them to put the instructions into practice without feeling unsure of their meaning.

Certain elements can distinguish a quality and accurate translation from a poor job. Five main aspects to be considered in technical translation:

  • Clear, short, and simple sentences
  • No ambiguity
  • No cultural reference points
  • No humor, slang, idiomatic expressions.
  • No information that has no value

 

The correct technical translation will reduce your time to market and accelerate your global growth. Contact iText if you need a high-quality technical translation.

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The need for high-quality technical translation has been growing since it is one of the most demanded services after legal translation in most European countries. Accuracy, clarity, and simplicity are some of the terms that define the quality of this type of translation service.

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