Friday, April 20, 2012

Business Trend Snapshot: Technical Translations

Over the past couple years at Precision Language & Graphics Inc., we have seen an increased number of translation requests for materials in various technical fields, such as engineering, specifically for manuals. Though we cannot say exactly what has stimulated the growing demand, it is evident that the economy is recovering and international commerce is likely to follow suit. Within the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of supporting technical manual translations totaling several hundred pages of highly technical content. These projects are not like common translations, and a few quality assurance measures should be taken. These include, but are not limited to, measurement specifications, glossary building and the use of a specialized translator.
When requesting a quotation for a technical manual, one thing that is important to clarify is whether or not measurements and other numbers will need to be converted in the target language, e.g., 1” to 2.54cm. For general translations such as product packaging, measurements will be converted. However, with technical manuals, it is up to the client to decide if they want them converted because the measurements in technical manuals are often very specific, and a conversion that is rounded to the nearest millimeter could even cause a problem. This is why most clients choose not to convert measurements for highly technical materials.
Another quality assurance measure to take, before beginning the project, is to utilize the best-fit translator. A general translator will not suffice for technical translations. It is imperative that a specialist, with a background in the material field, is chosen to support the translation. Without this industry background, it would be near impossible to translate heavily technical content.
Once the project has started, we will create a short glossary of terms and ask that the client have someone within the company who speaks the target language, if available, review the translations provided. With technical materials, there is often terminology that is industry-specific. By creating and reviewing a glossary, we can be sure to use terms that are preferred by the client according to the industry/company. If the client does not have someone to review the glossary, we still create one to store and use for future translation projects for that specific client. By using glossaries and translation memory software, in addition to our regular quality assurance measures, we strive to ensure the highest level of consistency and accuracy of translation.
After we have completed the project and returned the final files to the client, we welcome any feedback. If the client has a representative in the target region or someone to review and/or edit the translations, we request that the edits are sent to us. This allows us to know and understand any changes and apply them to future translation projects. This continuous improvement will guarantee that the process is refined after each project.
If you have any translation needs, for technical materials or others, please contact us at or call 847-413-1688.

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