Challenges with technical translation

Languages are very complex systems underpinned by grammatical rules and are continuously changing in line with cultural changes and technological inventions. New words are constantly created, and many words are being borrowed from other languages. With thousands of languages (although, these ten languages cover half the population) and thousands of words in any given language, translation can be a complicated task.

Therefore the accuracy of translation is paramount in order to convert the correct message, and it is even more important with technical translation…

Over the recent months we have been involved with translations of very technical documents from different industries. One example is technical translation of specification documents related to military parachutes. Our client, the supplier of these parachutes, was pitching for a multinational contract and required translation of their product specifications. These documents included detailed information on all the high-tech materials used in the parachutes, and all the production processes.

For this sort of translation our translators had to do considerable amount of research in order to create accurate translation. Also all the translators that we used for this technical translation had years of experience in translating technical documents and most of them had background in engineering.

In this case the issues were related to terminology that is very new and might not have been described before in the target languages. In addition, there were many acronyms and abbreviations in the text which added to the complexity of the task for translators.

Another client we’ve been involved with requiring technical translations is operating in the aviation industry. They specialise in training engineers in the field of aviation manufacturing and provide them with best practices. The documents we’ve translated were training manuals with one of them focused on pyrometry (the process of measuring high temperatures). This text contained not only highly specific and technical terminology, but was also full of numbers, figures and calculations. Therefore, our translators not only had to translate the words in the documents, but also had to pay very careful attention to all the numbers during the translation process.

We have also been involved in translation of legal documents for one of the world’s biggest commercial satellites manufacturers in the world. Their documents were not only using technical terminology related to satellites, but also were written by solicitors so used a lot of legal jargon. So the difficulty here was a contract translation combined technical and legal terminology.

To sum up, the common difficulties with technical translations are:

  • Terminology related to new technologies
  • Complex documents with graphs, figures, numbers and calculations in addition to technical text
  • Mixture of specialisations required, such as legal, aviation, engineering, etc.
  • Complex document structures

The last one relates to documents that contain software code. Some translations of websites or software localisation projects require translators to work with text entwined with the IT coding. This requires a cautious approach as deleting part of the code or amending some code phrases will result in delays with incorporating of the text in the end products.

We have years of experience in dealing with complex technical documents; if you’re involved with technical documents that need to be translated, we can help. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like your documents to be translated by professional and experienced translators.

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