What to Look For in a Competent Technical Translator

Last Updated On: June 19, 2017


Technical Translator
If your company is looking for a competent technical translator to translate your technical documents or manuals, the choice can be daunting. Do you choose an independent freelance translator or a larger agency that has several translators working for it? Do you prioritise the language ability or the technical expertise in the area you are dealing with? Is a translator who is used to providing medical translation services capable of switching over to deal with legal document translations or even engineering documents? Should you save some money and use an online translation service?

It’s hard to provide standard answers to these questions as there are many different individual situations and every business will have their own priorities when it comes to need and budget which will help to determine how specialised the translation service provider should be.


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Ideally, the technical translator will be one of a team working for a larger translation service agency that has sufficient staff on hand to provide specialists. The demand for accurate translation is growing worldwide, driven by the increasing internationalisation of world trade and the fact that many larger businesses, as well as smaller ones are expanding overseas as well as supplying a more diverse customer base at home.

Many technical documents do need to be translated accurately as the repercussions from an inaccurate translation could be quite serious. If the technical documents are medical ones even slight errors could be devastating. It does not take much of an imagination to work out the consequences of administering the wrong dose of medicine or using a medical appliance incorrectly because of a faulty translation supplied.

Most technical documents use standard language and knowledge of idioms, cultural nuances and dialects are far less important than they are for marketing and website translation services. Ideally, again, the technical translator should have full fluency in both the base language and the target language.

As for saving money and using a free online translator, these do not have the ability to cope with serious translation requirements as yet, although they are getting better and it is possible in the near future that all technical documents will be translated entirely automatically. However, at the moment, these translators are basically for amateur use and mostly helpful for translating words and short phrases and not complete documents. Even minor translation using an automatic translator can end up with completely misleading output.

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