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Challenges Involved in Translating Technical Terms
by Terralíngua      Posted in  March 27, 2013
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Challenges Involved in Translating Technical TermsWhen you think about translation, the immediate idea you get is that of replacing every word with a suitable word from the language you are translating the content into. That is, however, a common misconception that constitutes a layman’s perception of what translation is. Translation, in truth, involves understanding the content that is presented in the original language and reproducing an equivalent content in the target language, without altering the meaning or context in anyway.

When it comes to translating technical terms, there are many more challenges that come into picture. This article will highlight some of the top challenges associated with translating technical terms.

The Importance of Accurate Translations

Translation might seem like a trivial and monotonous activity at the outset. However, it is highly technical and can have implications beyond the realms we can imagine. The accuracy of translation is of paramount importance and should be spot-on with no compromises. If the translation is not accurate, the text in target language might become meaningless, and the company’s image might get severely damaged. The implications of mistakes in translations can be potentially fatal for the company’s prospects and might lead to liabilities that can bring a company down.

High Degree of Experience in Language Usage

If you are of the assumption that a person who is fluent in the target language can best judge the accuracy and quality of a translated technical document, you are wrong. Technical translation requires experts who are not only fluent in the target language but are also familiar with the technicalities involved in the document to be translated. Also, the translator must have experience in the sector to which the documents belong and in using those technical terms in the target language.

Consequences of an Inaccurately Translated Manual

The level of complexity involved in translation is so unique that the European Union has recognized it in the legislation itself. The EU states that most of the times, the operating manuals are rendered unclear for two reasons: language difficulties and inaccuracies in the translated version of the manual. As a result, there is a law that the EU has come up with stating that a technical product will be defined as incomplete without an accurate and fully functional manual. The interpretation of this law clearly suggests that a technical product which has an inaccurate technical manual can be classified as a defective product.

Specialized Vocabulary for Technical Translations

When it comes to translating technical documents, you need to have knowledge of the specific vocabulary each language has for technical terms. These terms are not commonly known and you might be surprised to know that people who have been speaking the same language from their childhood will not have knowledge of these terms. Also, the meaning of these terms and their variations has to be clearly understood. There is a high probability of these terms being misused while translating technical documents. This will lead to erroneous localized technical manuals that will render the goods ineffective.

Working as a Team

To ensure that the technical manuals are accurate to the T, the translators and technical experts work as a team. They will constantly compare notes and review each other’s work and its interpretation to ensure that the translated documents are 100% accurate. This is a difficult and time consuming task. Another challenge companies are faced with is that expert translators with knowledge of the specialized vocabulary and experience in the relevant sectors are hard to find. Quality is a factor that companies cannot compromise on, as highlighted in a few of the above points.

The aforementioned are only a few of the many challenges involved in translating technical terms and technical documents. It is one of the explicitly specialized fields involving only a select group of professionals.

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