The Comtec Blog
Follow the latest trends in international business, learn more about the managing your brand abroad and the technology available to help companies communicate globally via our blog.
Technical translation has proved to be an integral part in the successful transition of any business to overseas trading. Most companies will have large amounts of written content covering all aspects of their operations. When entering a foreign market, the majority of this material will need to be translated, including documents such as contracts, user guides, help files and technical drawings.
This material will likely contain industry and company specific terminology. Ensuring that these terms are correctly translated is highly important. Technical translation is a specialised branch of translation which can only be undertaken by a language expert with experience of the relevant industry.
In this article we will look at the process in further detail, as well as discussing best practice in finding the best experts with whom to work, and how to make the entire process run smoothly.
Top 10 Technical Translation Tips
Here are the ten tips we recommend to help you with the technical translation process:
Knowing what makes a good technical translator
To be a professional translator of technical material, much more is required than speaking multiple languages. Due to the intricate and highly specific nature of the content, experience of the relevant industry is required. Having a grounding in the sector, and a knowledge of the terms used within it, allows a translator to ensure that all meaning is conveyed correctly. Translating into their native language also helps to achieve this. A good provider will ensure that the most suitable translator for your project is chosen.
Being aware of language differences
Knowing into which languages your documents will need to be translated is obviously one of the first steps. There are, however, a number of different regional dialects and unique languages that can be spoken in any one territory. When written, foreign languages will also generally take up more physical space than English. Having knowledge of these points before a project begins is highly beneficial. A good provider of technical translation will be able to inform you of the relevant linguistic differences.
Providing a clear brief
Both you and your translation provider should have a clear understanding of the assignment before any translation actually occurs. Near the beginning of the project, you should ensure that you research your markets and work out a timescale for the duration of the assignment. You should also have a solid idea of the target audiences, key messages and overall tone and style for your content. Ensuring that your brief is clear and coherent will make it easier for the translator to quickly feel confident about the project.
Building a glossary
This is probably the most important factor of the entire process. Defining a set of specific terms and phrases before translation begins gives the translator a core terminology from which to work. This glossary should feature all industry specific phrases and abbreviations that will be used. It is also a good idea to include any preferred terminology that may have developed within your company.
Collecting relevant information
Providing your translator with relevant information can help them to deliver a superior translation. The more the translator knows about your company, sector and product, the more he or she will understand your content. Collating things like product information, marketing brochures and industry articles, before an assignment begins, will help to ensure that your brief is understood.
Keeping things simple
One of the best ways to help minimise the length of the process and ensure high quality usability is to keep all the language simple. By using simple words and short sentences, you can help the reader to understand the content and remain interested. However, as this is a technical document, some words and abbreviations may be necessarily long and industry specific. You should also seek to avoid using idioms and humour as these rarely translate well.
Not rushing things
It is important to ensure that you plan ahead. Leaving the translation to the very last minute often leads to mistakes and inferior results. You should take the time to research providers of technical translation and ensure that they have the necessary experience to carry out the assignment. Setting reasonable deadlines, and planning for issues which may arise, will maximise the chances of obtaining the highest standard of translation.
Choosing the correct time to use translation software
There are a number of websites and online tools which can translate content for you. Whilst these tools can prove helpful when trying to understand what someone is saying to you, they should never be used when you will be speaking to an overseas client or customer. Translation software lacks the ability to correctly understand context and the cultural sympathies required to work successfully in local markets. This often leads to incorrect and confusing language, guaranteed to put off a potential customer.
Finding a native speaker
Having access to someone who can speak the language into which you will be converting your material can be a massive help. Contacts within your chosen country will help to ensure that your material has been correctly translated and is suitable for the local market. If you are not in a position to work with an external contact, you could see if any member of your staff has the required language ability - an audit of language skills within your company could prove useful. If not, then perhaps you could consider hiring someone who speaks the language. Student exchange schemes like the Erasmus Programme could help you in this case.
It is always a good idea to double check things as the translation process moves along. Your translation partner should send you a translated sample towards the beginning of the project to ensure that you are happy that the brief has been understood. If this is not forthcoming, contact them and ask to see one. Once the technical translation is complete, you should try and ensure that all content is proofread. A good provider should include this in their service. However, it also recommended that you take advantage of any native speakers you may know, and ask them to double check the material.
If you are planning on having your technical documents translated, hopefully this article has helped you get a clearer picture of the process. If you have any further questions or would like a free translation quote, please contact a member of our customer services team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email email@example.com
Translation on your terms
No matter in which sector your business operates, if you trade internationally or are planning on expanding overseas, you will need to consider translation of your technical content. If you are to build your business effectively in a new market, almost every kind of communication you have, be it with your customers or your staff, will need to be adapted into new languages.
In establishing a presence in overseas markets, you may need to consider the translation of a large variety of different communications. Whilst some are necessarily short and simple – marketing slogans for instance – others are more complicated pieces, with terminology specific to both you and your organisation. Over time, a business will develop their own particular words and phrases which they prefer to use. Making sure that these exact phrases and their meanings are correctly translated is hugely important. This is where the process of technical translation comes in.
Technical translation is a specialised branch of translation, dealing with the adaptation of content that contains specialist terminology, which can only be correctly translated with the help of a language expert with experience in the industry.
Due to the specific nature of the terminology used, working with a translator with experience of the relevant sector is paramount. The translator will not only have the relevant linguistic skills but also a clear understanding of industry specific terminology. Technical translation may be required for a wide range of projects, from print material such as catalogues, manuals and staff handbooks, to website content and audio-visual material such as product demonstrations or podcasts, all of which help to communicate effectively with your overseas customers.
How it should be done
As noted above, working with a language expert who understands your industry and organisation is highly important. However, even with one in place, the process of undertaking technical translation can be complex. It is important that a translator (or their translation agency) builds a clear understanding of the customer’s requirements, collating all necessary reference material, including product information and any existing translations. To give you more of an idea about the how this process works, here are some of the steps Comtec employ to ensure they deliver 100% accurate translations every time.
One of the first stages in the translation process is to agree a glossary of translated terms with the client and to deliver a sample for review. Creating a glossary of terms and phrases, along with their definitions, early on in the process ensures that preferred terminology is used consistently across all projects. A further crucial step, which helps to ensure that technical translation projects run smoothly, is the use of translation memory tools. This software stores a translated copy of any content and allows for easy retrieval, which will assist with subsequent work. The translation memory is continually updated as each additional translation project is completed. Use of the translation memory facility not only ensures consistency in style and terminology across all materials, but also, because of avoiding unnecessary re-translation, the client is provided with a longer-term cost-effective solution.
There are many more subtleties and techniques involved with technical translation, but hopefully this article has given you a better understanding of the process. If you have any further questions regarding technical translation, or would like a free translation quote, please contact a member of our customer services team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who travels for business knows that time is money. And it always seems that no matter how much planning we do before we set off on our overseas trips, there is always something else to sort out while we’re there!
Yet with nearly 75% of business travellers now owning smartphones we have the benefit of utilising technology on the go. There are apps for almost everything, from booking your flight to business language translations, so you never need to be caught out again!
Here are my ten favourite smartphone apps for those of you who travel overseas for business.
TripIt - A useful app for before you go, this allows you to import all of your travel information (such as flight times, hotel details, meetings) and create a travel itinerary that can be shared with colleagues, ensuring everyone back in the office knows where you’ll be at any time.
Packing Pro - A bit gimmicky, but useful if you tend to be forgetful! This app enables you to create packing lists, keep check of items you’ve already packed and edit item details (including weights, value etc). You can even email your list to colleagues.
World Mate - You never know when you might need to book a last-minute hotel or flight. This app provides hotel suggestions, flight times and prices based on your current location.
Currency - A quick way of converting one currency to another. Simple yet essential!
Translator with Voice - Supporting numerous different languages, this app is useful for learning a new language or for carrying out business language translations while travelling abroad. Translations are spoken and shown on screen.
Word Lens App - A language app with a difference! Although only able to translate into a minimal number of languages, this app enables you to look up words by typing them on screen or by taking a picture of the words with your camera, including pictures of signs, menus or documents – useful for those business language translations.
Flightcaster - A flight delay predication app that scours data and uses current conditions to predict whether a flight might be delayed or cancelled.
Jetset Expenses - Keep track of expenses on the go and send expense reports directly to your company using email or import them into Excel or other formats.
AllSubway - Planning to get around by subway? This app includes maps of 151 different metropolitan transit systems from around the world, including Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. The good news is the app works offline, so no problem if you have no internet connection while in the subway!
Discover - A mobile file manager app that allows you to manage, store, view and transfer files with other computers or iPhones.
Comtec supports businesses to trade internationally by providing full business language translation services, from start to finish. Services include technical translation, marketing translation, legal translation, website translation and interpreting. Our on-demand, telephone interpreting service, Comtec TALK, provides the immediate support of an interpreter on the phone, ideal for times when you need to translate an international enquiry and send a timely response.
To learn more about Comtec’s services contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email@example.com.
The Olympics are big business for UK companies. It is estimated that the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be worth approximately £21 billion to the UK economy and will represent a huge opportunity for international trade.
Not only will the Games see the world’s best athletes visiting the UK, but also major business players from around the globe.
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is helping businesses reach out to these international markets by organising a series of business events and networking opportunities. UKTI has also posted an inspiring mini-movie on YouTube (http://youtu.be/SU-M8AoNzYU) highlighting the business opportunities presented by the Olympics.
Google recently announced the launch of a new website, www.endangeredlanguages.com, aimed at preserving ancient tongues spoken by only a few thousand people. This got us thinking at Comtec about just how many languages are in use around the world. There are, in fact, around 7,000 and it seems over 3,000 of these are on the verge of extinction.
Just recently we received an enquiry at Comtec about Circassian translation services. You may be interested to hear that there remain only about two million speakers of Circassian, mostly living in the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Adygea, and Karachay–Cherkessia, as well as a number in the Russian Federation outside these republics.