Therefore, a technical translation involves consultation, study, or technical validation materials such as an instruction manual of a machine, a scientific paper, a medical record, or an academic article, among others. Each of them has its style, in addition to its language, jargon, and terms used in the field.
Patents, for example, require not only language skills but also in-depth knowledge of terminology and legal components. A patent must be adapted to the regulations in force in the country concerned, besides having an extremely important role in scientific and technological developments.
As a result, great caution is required when performing this type of specialized translation. And there are some possibilities used to achieve a satisfactory result.
Does the translator have to be specialized in the field?
A translator specialized in the area of the document would be the most appropriate. Understanding the text and interpreting that context will make all the difference in the translation process.
However, if this is not possible, having a technical reviewer would help. It doesn’t need to be a linguist. A professional in the field would read the technical translation and check if the translation of the terms is following the original idea.
Counting on the help of a technical reviewer does not diminish the translator’s work. In any case, doing in-depth research on the terminology of a certain area and having reliable reference materials are part of this job. We must always do our best.
Anyway, translators must be aware of their importance. Ideally, they should not accept to do a technical translation for a field they do not feel familiar with the language. Mistranslations in legal contracts or aviation manuals, for example, can cause catastrophic consequences and affect the lives of many people.
Watch the following video to understand a little more about legal translation, for example:
Can we use a glossary and an automatic translation machine?
A glossary is always welcome since we can find more than one term to name the same thing within the same area. Especially if the document is long and, therefore, divided among several linguists, the glossary becomes essential to maintain consistency in the technical translation. On the other hand, machine translation should be used with caution.
The tools came to help us, but it takes a lot of proofreading to deliver a fluid final text without literal translations. It is not a process between texts, but between languages and cultures.
The software will never be better than a person who has intellectual intelligence and the ability to interpret the context and understand the intention behind the words.
However, it is undeniable that CAT tools optimize our time and help us with quality control.
Does the technical translator earn more?
They usually do since they are specialized professionals with academic and professional backgrounds that go beyond linguistic and translation studies. But there is an exception to every rule.
Currently, machine translation post-editing (MTPE) has been widely used as it is a cheaper option. This is the process of proofreading texts translated by a machine engine. Agencies often use an automatic translation tool, then send the result to translators so that they just proofread and edit it. Proofreading costs less than translating.
However, do not think that the role of the translator has lost its space and prestige. Agencies that value high quality will always opt for human work, even if they have to pay more.
Finally, regardless of your area, do your best and be honest to recognize when you’re not ready for a certain task. May the challenges serve as a stimulus for us so that we always seek to develop and do better.
Tatiana von Sperling
September 26, 2022