Language can be used in many different ways – for example, to persuade, to move, to engage, to entertain or to communicate complex data. The language used within the manufacturing industry is general more technical than persuasive and is frequently required to convey very precise information. Therefore, product specifications, training materials, user manuals, health and safety info and other technical materials all require very accurate translation.
This can be difficult when a project requires a large volume of translation or a fast turnaround but there are a number of best practices that can help you streamline your technical translations without sacrificing accuracy.
Look for specialist translators
Simply put, if you don’t have a thorough understanding of a subject, it’s far more difficult to translate it. This can apply whether you’re working in a major specialist sector such as medical or financial or any number of niche areas. For sub-sectors within manufacturing, it can make the process far easier if you work with translators who have an extensive knowledge of the relevant products and terminology, as well as experience of translating within the field.
Working with experienced specialist translators will help ensure speed and accuracy. Specialists are less likely to make mistakes when it comes to using technical language and will generally be able to work faster, providing nuance without constantly having to stop for clarification. Editors should also be familiar with the field in order to conduct quality checks.
Using the same translator for ongoing projects can help ensure consistency and familiarity with the style and terminology should also help speed up the translation process.
Get the terminology right
Even a specialist translator will need guidance over the exact terminology to use for a particular client or project. Not all organisations working within a particular industry use the same terminology for the same things. This applies to industry jargon and technical terms but it could also apply to ‘tone of voice’ and preferred phrases elsewhere.
Ideally, two or more linguists working independently on the same project should be able to produce a translation that consistently uses the same terminology. The most effective way to do this for a major or ongoing project is to use a terminology extractor tool and a Translation Memory (TM). This is a database that stores segments of previously translated content and approved terms.
Prior to embarking on a major translation project a manufacturer is unlikely to have created a TM – why would they? They are, however, more likely to maintain a terminology list or glossary in their own language, which can be used as the basis of a TM. A TM can be created as a project in its own right or built up gradually as source material is translated. The more translations that are carried out, the more the translator and the TM learn, the approved terminology list grows – leading to more efficient translations.
Use in-country reviewers
In-country review is often the final quality check of a translation project. This involves passing the translated copy on to native speakers who will read and evaluate it for tone and accuracy.
In-country reviewers should never just be someone who speaks the appropriate language. You wouldn’t pass marketing copy in your own language to be reviewed by an engineer, just as you wouldn’t send a technical manual to be fact-checked by your marketers. Just like the translators, in-country reviewers should be experts in the subject matter. As well as being native speakers of the target language they should have a good knowledge of the source language. Otherwise it would be impossible to know whether a translation was accurate or not.
Properly trained in-country reviewers can have access to a company’s TM and can actually be involved in the process of setting up and maintaining the terminology database, and approving any new terms in each target language for future use.
In manufacturing translation – just as in manufacturing itself – speed and accuracy are important. By using the right combination of expert translators, technology and review practices, you can help ensure that you achieve both.
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