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Specifics of Technical Document Translation Services

Author: Andreea Balaoiu

Specifics of Technical Document Translation Services

Gone are the days when the challenge of tackling technical translations was a “backbreaking” endeavor. Driven by global economic growth and technological developments, the process of creating, translating, and localizing technical documentation has experienced a rapid evolution, with more and more Linguistic Service Providers consistently stepping up their game to go above and beyond in delivering pristine technical document translation services.

Technical Document Translation: 1 to 1

In “Technical translation and related disciplines”, Geoffrey Kingscott states that technical translation is by far one of the leading translation outputs and linguistic service demands across the globe, with a proportion of 90% of textual ground being covered by professionals and subject matter experts in the field.

Additionally, as stated by Williams and Chesterman in “The Map: A Beginner's Guide to Doing Research in Translation Studies”, the translation of technical documentation requires high profile technical knowledge, as well as “a mastery of the relevant terminology and vocabulary tokens”.

Technical Document Translation involves a specialized process and a wide range of documents in different fields, such as owner's manuals, patents, user guides, scientific, medical, engineering, and automotive journals, consumer goods guides, technical equipment, and machinery descriptions, mechanical engineering guides, or other IT documents. According to Byme and Dordrecht in “Technical Translation: Usability Strategies for Translating Technical Documentation”, this translation process harnesses specialized terminology, as well as high-profile, mandatory linguistic techniques and conventions.

Specifics of Technical Document Translation

To ensure accurate technical document translation, there is a series of linguistic and process prerequisites worth taking into consideration:

  • Structural source text rendition
  • Target audience compliance
  • Technical linguistic strategy compliance
  • Establishing a thorough prior process of technical translation and localization
  • Correct and consistent use of specific terminology
  • Avoiding ambiguity and wordiness in favour of direct, pragmatic discourse
  • Avoiding figurative discourse and the use of cultural innuendos

Translations are considered technical when all the above prerequisites are met with regard to the specific targeted technical field or subdomain, having a clear and informative direction and purpose. At the same time, one of the most important specific points to consider when tackling technical document translation is the overall and direct impact within the domains of the use for which it is required. Rendering a source text effectively using proficient technical language and abiding by a clearly defined and streamlined technical translation and localization process, always with the requirements of the target audience in mind, allows for high-profile dissemination of relevant technical information, ranging from relevant technological fields to medical, biomedical, and environmental fields where accuracy is a paramount factor in ensuring safe and qualitative services, product descriptions, and overall technical content that the world can benefit from.

Effective Technical Document Translation: Process breakdown

Due to their complex nature, effective technical document translation processes must be defined before beginning work on the translation. Compared to classic, ‘dictionary-in-hand’ grueling technical translation processes, proficient Language Service Providers will always ensure a streamlined translation and localization process, consisting of:

  • Volume Analysis and timeframe estimations:

    The source content is analyzed to determine the exact number of new and repeated words to be translated and the extent of TM (Translation Memory) leverage. (Learn more about the specifics of TM leverage in our article, What is Translation Memory - AD VERBUM)

  • File Preparation:

    The source content is prepared for translation in a bilingual setting using a CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tool and an existing/new Translation Memory.

  • Translation, Editing, Proofreading:

    The source content is translated into the target language, edited, and proofread, with each step performed by an independent native speaker and subject-matter expert of the target language using a CAT tool.

  • Quality Assurance:

    Quality assurance specific tools and software are employed to check the translation for potential linguistic and stylistic errors. (Learn more about Linguistic Quality assurance in our article Quality Assurance in Translation Services - AD VERBUM)

  • Formatting and Layout:

    The target document is reviewed to make sure that the layout is the same as in the source document, involving a DTP (Desktop Publishing) step if required by the client and file format.

  • Implementation of Client Feedback:

    Client feedback is incorporated into the Translation Memory and the client-specific glossary and/or style guide where applicable.

Examples and Benefits of Successful Technical Document Translation and Localization Services

One relevant example of the paramount role of effective technical document translation and localization services provided by subject matter expert Linguistic Service Providers comes from Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions.

In 2017, they initiated a highly technical software localization project for the software-fulfillment process in their Tokyo office. In ensuring and streamlining the success of their overall technical document translation and localization process, they:

  • Aligned the user interface to follow user preferences across different user applications.
  • Localized every possible user interface flow into their target language
  • Tasked a team of designated Linguistic Service Providers and subject matter expert linguists to review application screens and ensure source-target language rendition consistency

Adapting the user experience for their target country-specific requirements and localizing their technical content in a ‘disciplined way’ has given them a sought-after competitive advantage, as well as made a positive impact on the Cisco brand, customer engagement, and sales.

Considering the above technical translation success story, the main benefits of an appropriate technical translation and localization process can be summarized as follows:

  • Increased global revenue with multilingual content
  • Enhanced brand awareness
  • Increased brand engagement
  • Improved user experience
  • Reduced overarching customer support expenses
  • Boosted sales and ROI

The bottom line

Achieving accurate and competent technical content translations, as well as ensuring streamlined technical translation quality assurance within this field is a hot topic. And the ever-growing interest in safeguarding the level and values of quality is gaining momentum, with the generic approaches to technical translation quality demanding superior benchmarks aligned to specific requirements and conditions, across any technical sub-domain, topic, or level of difficulty.

AD VERBUM takes pride in mastering and delivering on the specifics of technical document translation and localization, ticking all of the above-mentioned criteria boxes through a well-established internal Translation Quality Assurance process, ISO-optimized to cater to a wide spectrum of needs and stringent requirements.

By tailoring our efforts to the specific needs of every single customer and following up on our performance, we ensure that the technical translation services provided are of consistently high quality and enhance the experience for our customers.

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