By technical translation, we mean the translation of legal documents, appliance manuals, user guides, medical files, instructions, USCIS birth certificate translations, and so on. These are written for specific purposes, and usually by technical, legal, medical or other professionals; they normally contain technical, legal or scientific information – which means a lot of jargon, or technical terms.

However, technical translation does not begin and end with an accurate translation of technical terms. The sentence construction, language style, idiomatic expressions and other nuances need to be understood and followed – in addition to having knowledge of the subject matter. After all, the terminology is likely to account only for about 10% of the whole text; the rest is simply regular language. So, the translator needs to know how the culture is affected by the technology and vice versa; only then will the translated document be relevant and culturally appropriate, and have a natural flow without sounding like a word-for-word translation.


●With science and technology making such rapid advances, we hear new technical terms every other day; the translator has to find out if an appropriate term has been created in the target language, and use that. If there isn’t an equivalent term, they may need to retain the source document term. The best option would be to discuss with the client as to the next step: should they coin a new term altogether, or use the term in the original document? It’s better always to keep the client in the loop.
●It is imperative for the translator to be familiar with the subject matter in order to understand the true (deeper) meaning of a term; this way, they can conduct the requisite research. Sometimes the translated term may not be a literal translation but have the same meaning. For example, let’s say that the document to be translated is a guide to assemble a piece of furniture. The term ‘leg’ for a table, as used in English, may not make sense when translated into another language – perhaps a completely different word is used, and not leg, to indicate that part of the table. You get a general idea now.
●To translate legal documents, the translator will need to know the specific laws which pertain to the text in the source document; they would also need to understand how those laws affect the audience for whom the target document is required.
●If documents are written in a specific style that is different from the language style of the translator, the translator will have a tough time. It may not be possible to simply maintain the same style and format in the target document. For example, a sentence that contains just 15 words in English may require 20 words in say, German, or the other way around. Here, a conflict may arise with the formatting. While retaining natural flow and precision in meaning is the most important, they may need to make a few adjustments to keep the formatting somewhat similar to the original text.
●Maintaining precision is crucial in a technical translation – unlike translating prose. The technical content must be retained. For example, if it’s an appliance manual, the troubleshooting instructions must be able to allow the user to follow the guidelines to find out what’s wrong with the appliance and to take the necessary action – just like a person reading the manual in the original language would be able to do.
●For texts like guides and manuals, the translator also needs to ensure that the instructions are easy to follow; so that a product can be assembled or repaired in minimal time. The user should not have to spend an inordinate amount of time reading the instructions and understanding them. For this, the translator would need to use clear, simple and suitable words in the target language.
●The translator needs to understand the cultural nuances of the target audience too; they need to know what’s acceptable in certain cultures and what is not. This is especially important when there are pictures of people.
●Most manuals and guides contain graphs and diagrams, and normally, the parts are labeled. The translator will need to also translate these names after finding out the appropriate words in the target language.
●Translating abbreviations and acronyms could also pose a problem – after translating the individual words, the acronym may not sound relevant in the target language at all. The translator will need to communicate with the client and use sound judgement in such matters.

Technical and legal documents translation mandates possession of exemplary linguistic skills as well as subject matter expertise – a difficult combination. You will need to do a thorough background check of the translator you intend to hire, and also ask for references. Make sure you talk to the translator and find out how much they know, and how much research they are willing to do to ensure accuracy of translation.

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I am a professional writer and loves to write on different topics like SEO, Health, Money Making, Fashion etc. It is my Hobby and passion.