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Why do technical texts have to be handled by a technical translator?

While technology contributes to the global communication, the need of users from multiple cultures and nations to fully understand documentation accompanying a piece of the said technology also grows. We are talking about manuals, user guides, data sheets, patents and other technical documentation produced by technical writers. ¹

Technical translators make texts with technical jargon readable for a wider audience. The role of the technical translator is to convey the meaning of the highly specialized technical documentation providing enough information for people to understand.

A technical translator must have a multifaceted background and a high level of knowledge of the subject and relevant terminology: 5-10% of the technical document are specificated terms. The technical translation of terminology must comply with recognized standards.

“A technical translator’s task is to keep consistent terminology in technical translation, as well as the very formulaic and repetitive nature of technical writing. Additionally, most technical translators work within a specialized field such as medical or legal technical translation, which highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary background.” ¹

Understanding culture is one of the three pillars in technical translation. Cultural knowledge in communicating technical messages is just as important as the linguistic knowledge.

For example, messages containing safety information, warnings of hazards or risks, or cautions require special attention. Items to be considered also include measurement systems, types of graphics and symbols.

Discussing technical translation to the dialects of the same languages, it is important to mention the significant differences across cultures such as paper layouts, spelling, meaning, and use of humor.

Technical translation is a balance of art and science influenced by theory and practice. ² Translating technical documents requires a consistent scientific experience, deep linguistic knowledge and a culturally specific background. Only professional technical translators can handle this challenging task.

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_documentation

² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_translation

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