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Accuracy in technical translations

In a certain sense, one of the easiest types of document to translate are those which contain very little text, all of which is functional and explanatory – a technical manual for example. In this case, the key thing is to translate what few words there are as closely as possible, leaving no room for ambiguity.

A document like this will often be written in an idiom which has little relation to the version of that language which is actually spoken. Likewise, the translator does not need to stick to a conversational tone in his version of it; the important thing is the information it contains and the analysis that goes with it. Needless to say, it would be inappropriate to use particularly colloquial language.

In this case, the translator will also be concentrating on terminology, ensuring that technical vocabulary is translated consistently within the text, as well as with all of that client’s documentation and the industry as a whole. This is hugely important, as a mistranslation of the name of a certain piece of equipment, say, could have disasterous consequences.

This point in particular underlines the importance of choosing a translator or LSP specialised in a certain sector or sector of a sector, just as it is with the internal reviewer. In order to stay on top of of contemporary terminology, it is fundamental that the translator be following that industry closely.

It is also important that the translator pay attention to things like numbers and figures. If the source is from a country which uses the metric system and the target is from a country which uses imperial, part of the translator’s job is to render all weights and measures appropriately. Even if the countries of both the target and the source document use the same system, they may have a different way of expressing decimal numbers (typically, by using a comma instead of a decimal point or vice versa).

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