Aspects of Technical Translation
What is Technical Translation?Technical translation is the process of the translation of documents produced by technical writers (owner’s manuals, user guides, etc.). Technical translations are common in all of the major industries. Technical means just that: something to do with technology and technological texts. To be more specific, this type of translation involves texts that regard complex subjects that deal with the practical use of scientific and specialized information.
Importance of Technical Translation
Despite its poor reputation, it has been estimated that technical translation makes up for roughly 90% of the worlds’ total translation output each year. This is because it is extremely important for technical information to be available in a variety of languages. There are many laws, directives and regulations across the world that need wide-ranging, accurate and effective technical documentation in many different languages. Because of this, it is clear to see the importance of technical translation.
Technical Translation Misconceptions
Technical translation is not all about terminology. This incorrect assumption often occurs with those uninvolved in technical translation. Though terminology is, perhaps, the most instantaneously noticeable aspect of a technical text (and typically provides the text “energy” it needs to express information), terminology makes up for only about 5-10% of the total content of technical texts.
Translators must produce texts which are consistently the same as those produced by technical writers working in the target language. If a translator does not comply with target language text conventions, it can significantly harm the credibility of the text, the author and the information contained within the text. It is said that there is no substitute for a thorough knowledge of the target language.
Specialized Terminology and Technical Translation
Many wonder what the difference is between specialized terminology and technical translation. Despite the fact that specialized terminology is frequently a key aspect within technical translation, it alone is not enough to consider a text as “technical.” Many different disciplines and subjects that are not “technical” have what is considered specialized terminology. For example, religion has a very specific terminology, practices, styles and texts. In spite of this, it is rarely (if ever) described as technical. Just because a subject has distinctive or specialized terminology does mean it is technical
Technical Translation’s Poor Reputation
Technical translation has commonly been regarded as the underdog within the translation world. It is typically thought to be simply vocational, practical and basic. As of late, the range of technical texts facing translators has grown significantly. Technical translation is thought as lacking the glamour and prestige of other types of translation. Some even consider this type of translation the modern day “barbarian” of the linguistic world. It is typically ignored in most literature about translation. In fact, out of roughly 20,500 publications listed in the BITRA bibliography of translation research, only 9.3 % addressed technical translation.