Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Technical Translations without Hampering Technicalities

The mere word ‘Technical translation’ can appear heavy and somewhat dense to an average and regular reader. However, what it really means is that it makes people understand texts written about technical subject areas that deal with the practical application of scientific and technological information. 

By technical subjects, I mean a variety of areas, ranging from machinery manuals, descriptions of manufacturing processes, software messages, component lists in every kind of machines like automobiles, electronics, industrial equipment and other hardware and software texts. These are very specific subject areas and more often than not, the terminologies used can only be understood by people who study these topics or who take an avid interest in them.

Upon a first glance, these texts may seem utterly incomprehensible to an average reader and may baffle many-a- minds, but technical translations can make it easier by representing the matter in a simple and concise language that can be easily understood by a lay reader who may not have all the required knowledge pertaining to the minor details of a particular subject.

Translation can be fundamentally defined as a way of changing words from one language to another, the main motive behind which is, communication. According to The Oxford Companion to the English Language, translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text.

Thus, translators, or technical translators per say, have to have an inside knowledge of the specific language and the terminology that they use. They have to understand the source language that is the language from which they are translating and have good writing skills in the target language, which is the language into which they are translating.

Technical translations have to be linguistically correct as well as technically accurate; hence it is also necessary for the translator to understand the technical aspects of the subject matter of the translation. Many a times, translators can make texts too simplistic leaving behind all technical jargon and spoon-feeding the reader into comprehension.

Situations can also arise whereby the translators use a vocabulary and a terminology that is purely technical, leaving the reader bewildered and flustered and making neither head nor tail of the whole translation.  Both of these ways are incorrect.

Technical translators have to find a midway, whereby the reader is able to comprehend the data easily in a simple day-to-day language along with understanding and gaining knowledge about the technical terminologies and phraseology. They have to keep sentences short, clear, and to the point and avoid idioms and flowery language. Thus, they have to have some essential areas of expertise which include subject knowledge, knowledge of different genres and skills in writing, research and pedagogy.

Technical translations are important as international translation companies need to translate documents related to the company like manuals, user guides, data sheets which need to be reproduced in foreign languages as their operations expand overseas. Hence, technical translations and interpretations enable international manufacturers of mechanical and technical equipment to communicate globally and make an impact in the world economy.