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Technical translation: common use cases and why companies need it

Published on November 4th, 2020

Technical translation breaks down language barriers for a wide range of industries that need to operate in the globalised age. Technical information can be challenging to translate but there is little tolerance for errors – especially when it comes to dealing with instructions, safety warnings, documentation and important findings.

In this article, we look at some of the most used cases of technical translation and which types of businesses and organisations need it most.

What is technical translation used for?

Every industry needs technical translation at some level to provide crucial information across language barriers. For example, in the manufacturing industry, international companies often need to translate training material, operating procedures and safety instructions for the staff that build their products. Likewise, the companies that provide manufacturers with tools need to translate user manuals and safety instructions.

Corporate businesses are not the only organisations with technical translation needs, either.

Medical research teams have to translate their findings into multiple languages while international courts and regional blocs like the EU have particularly demanding needs for technical translation.

Here is a short list of some of the technical documents such businesses and organisations might need translating:

  • Research papers
  • Contracts
  • Technical drawings
  • Processes
  • Patents
  • Engineering texts
  • User manuals
  • Descriptions and technical data sheets
  • Specifications
  • Quotes
  • Technical instructions
  • Instruction books
  • Product descriptions

Given the legal implications of translation mistakes in documents like instruction manuals for heavy machinery or product patents, technical translation is a highly specialist service and you should always use a language service provider that has proven experience in this field.

What do you need from technical translation services?

As you can see from the list of examples above, technical translation covers a wide range of industries and niche subjects. In many cases, these documents include highly-specialist information and terminology that must be conveyed with 100% accuracy in each language, including any context that can impact the meaning of words, phrases and concepts.

This is why it is so important that you have translators with expertise in the subject matter of your documents.

For example, if you need a technical drawing translated for a manufacturing team on the other side of the world, there are specific requirements that come with this. You need a translator with knowledge of the product you have designed, the individual parts, design terminology in general and, of course, the target languages you need to translate this into.

Not only that, but you need a translator with knowledge of the programmes and file formats you use to create your technical drawings. Better yet, you can seek out a language company that also provides desktop publishing services (DTP), which takes your original file and creates a translated version in the same format for you.

Likewise, if you are translating a medical study, you need translators with specialist knowledge of the medical field and the specific area of research you are working in.

Technical translation allows global industries to exchange crucial information, but there is no room for compromising on accuracy. The consequences of translation mistakes and misinterpretations can be extreme in many industries and niches that rely on technical translation – for example, pharmacies requesting a description, instructions and potential side-effects of a new drug.

When technical information is on the table, you need linguists with specialist subject knowledge who can deliver accurate translations with confidence.

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Posted on: November 4th, 2020