Professional translations for companies

What is technical translation?

The translation of technical texts, technical documentation and communication is as extensive as it is detailed and comes with great responsibility. We explain the essential factors and explain what to look out for to achieve optimal results in every respect.

How is technical translation defined?

Technical translation or specialised translation refers to the process of transferring the results of technical editing – specialist texts, documentation and communication – from the source language into a target language. It is used in various industrial sectors, for example:

While industries drive development, it is down to technical editing and technical translation to make products and product-related information understandable and accessible in different languages.

What challenges does technical translation face?

Technical specialised translations are very complex. Even the smallest mistakes or unclear formulations and omissions can lead to momentous misunderstandings. In the case of instruction manuals from consumer electronics, peculiar translations may still be entertaining. But even there, they result in customer complaints, incorrect orders and damage to reputation.

In the context of industrial plants or applications, however, the fun definitely stops. For example, a careless mistake in assembly instructions can lead to failures with high losses of time and money or even damage to the health of the user. There is also a risk of legal consequences for the manufacturer, who is also liable for translated instructions.

The complexity of the subject matter is particularly evident in the translation of technical documentation, which facilitates the use, operation or maintenance of products with modular, user-friendly and linguistically unambiguous texts. A number of different formats (exports from CMS systems and layout programmes, MS Office files etc.) and text types are translated:

  • Manuals
  • User manuals
  • Factory standards
  • Product data sheets
  • Test reports
  • Process descriptions
  • Safety data sheets
  • Training materials
  • HMI and display texts
  • Spare parts catalogues

The technical documentation for this must not only provide information and instructions, but also, for example, depict residual risks that could not be eliminated on the product or the machine. These are often in the form of warning messages, warning symbols or the description of dangerous areas and actions that could lead to malfunctions in the software or the machine, for example. If such a technical text is not translated properly, the risks may be magnified in several languages.

How does technical translation meet these challenges?

Professional technical translations by an experienced language service provider ensure the highest level of quality, because the following factors minimise the risks of translation errors:

  1. Highly qualified translators and revisers with in-depth subject and product knowledge
  2. Efficiently organised translation processes and test steps that can be flexibly adapted to customer- and project-specific requirements

What role do specifications play in technical translation?

Technical documentation and technical translation are subject to different guidelines and standards that make an important contribution to quality and dependability.

The EU Machinery Directive, for example, is fundamental. It states that information and warnings must be provided in easily understandable language or that “operating instructions must be supplied in the official Community language or languages of the Member State in which the machinery is placed on the market and/or put into service”. Because to commission, operate and maintain a machine safely, efficiently and effectively, the operating instructions should be available in the local language.

The DIN EN IEC/IEEE 82079-1 documentation standard is an essential requirement for quality assurance. This standard formulates requirements for the actual information regarding the safe use of a product and the qualifications of technical writers and technical translators. It also makes recommendations for technical translation.

What are the specific characteristics of professional technical translation?

In deriving the specifications and comparing them with extensive practical knowledge, a whole range of requirements for efficient and effective technical translation emerges:

  • Native-speaker translators and revisers with subject and product knowledge
  • Product training for professional translators and revisers, if required
  • Technical revision or optional technical review (client review) incl. final verification process
  • Verifiable quality through optional translation evaluation
  • Project specifications derived from the risk analysis and general customer requirements
  • Use of style guides or similar specifications, e.g. for the translation of safety instructions or the citation of HMI texts
  • Consistent terminology in the source text and defined foreign language terminology
  • Continuous terminology work and defined review processes to avoid unnecessary internal reviews
  • Clear and comprehensible source text with good formatting – ideally in accordance with DIN 8579 for translation-oriented writing
  • Availability of reference material for delta translations or text modules, e.g. from editorial systems or other context-free text types such as HMI and display texts
  • Certified processes in accordance with DIN EN ISO 17100 and DIN ISO 18587
  • Efficient processes through company-specific use of technology, e.g. computer-aided translation systems, terminology databases or quality assurance tools as well as the integration or connection of customer software (e.g. TIA)

What does technical translation at oneword involve?

oneword GmbH is one of the leading language service providers and suppliers for professional technical translations. We fulfil the listed specifications with maximum precision and continuously develop corresponding language technologies and processes.

All of our technical translators and revisers are native speakers who are familiar with the linguistic and cultural subtleties of the source and target languages. They are technically skilled, highly specialised where required, and continuously educate themselves in their respective fields.

Our technical translation experts work in an extremely structured manner and in close consultation with the client or their technical editors. This includes:

  • Detailed coordination in the briefing phase to avoid misunderstandings from the outset
  • Permanent teams of professional translators, revisers and project managers to continuously deepen, expand and document company-specific expertise (customer requirements, company processes)
  • Effective quality assurance and regular evaluation/quality measurement
  • Terminology work: uniform use of specialised terminology; (continuous) creation of terminology
  • Workflow optimisation or consulting
  • Testing the usability of Machine Translation + Post-Editing (MTPE)

The goal and result are efficient, time- and cost-saving processes and professional technical translations of the highest quality and dependability with minimal risk at all times.

Do you need professional translation of technical texts, technical documentation and communications? Then talk to us. Our technical translation experts will be happy to advise you on measures and options.

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