In general terms, technical translation can be defined as a specific branch of translation that covers all documents related to the field of technology. Given this definition, it is possible to include a multitude of texts of different types in the ‘disaster box’ of technical translation: IT, electronics, telecommunications, renewable energies, biotechnology, materials, automation, etc. It is undeniable that technical translation is one of the most demanded specialties nowadays, especially due to the growing expansion of information and communication technologies in the globalized world in which we live. As a result, more and more technology companies are demanding translation (and interpreting) services to sell their products in different markets.
However, in some cases we can see a certain denigration of technical translation within the sector itself, since it is considered to be one of the categories most susceptible to being adapted to the new automatic translation programs. In this sense, the literary translator is seen as the antithesis of the technical translator, since they must have a series of creative skills that cannot be applied to a technical text. But is anyone capable of translating a technical text? Is it enough to use a machine translation program to achieve a good translation? In this short essay we would like to highlight some of the skills that technical translators need to master in order to perform their work properly.
First of all, the fact that technical texts are characterized by the fact that they deal with a very specific thematic field obliges the translator to acquire the ability to understand the technical subject matter to be translated. In order to understand the source text, it is necessary to have the knowledge to grasp the concepts and the logical relationships that exist between them. It is also important for the translator to make correct use of technical terminology, i.e., to be able to identify the technical terms in the source text and use the appropriate equivalents in the target text. In this sense, the subject field is what determines to a large extent the degree of difficulty of a text.
On the other hand, the translator must be familiar with the conventional characteristics of the textual genre they are dealing with, both in the source language and in the target language. As a general rule, technical texts are usually characterized by their objectivity, clarity and conciseness. However, it should be borne in mind that these characteristics cannot always be extrapolated to all technical texts, since translating a patent, an advertising brochure or an instruction manual is not the same. The registration in each case may vary considerably. Similarly, the complexity of the text will not be determined so much by the genre to which it belongs as by its intentionality and the way in which the information is presented in accordance with that communicative intention.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of technical translation is for the translator to become familiar with and assimilate documentation as a vital tool for the correct performance of their work. In fact, technical translation is probably one of the fields that requires the translator to have recourse to terminological sources and specialized documentation, since in most cases the subjects dealt with are very complex and go beyond the limits of common knowledge.
Having seen this, it would be somewhat naïve to think that the use of a machine translation program would be sufficient to deal with a technical translation, since the human element remains fundamental in this field as well. In this respect, the translator must stand out above all for their capacity for adaptability, since the field of translation is a highly adaptive world depending on contextual requirements.
At FAST.txt, one of our main objectives is to focus on specialization. Therefore, we have the best professionals for the various fields of technical translation, from engineering to biomedical translation. In addition, we work with more than 50 languages.
If you need to deal with a specialist for any kind of technical translation, do not hesitate to contact us: you can rely on FAST.txt.
Carlos Sánchez Luis