BlogBosses BlogWhat is technical translation?

What is technical translation?

What is technical translation?

Technical translation is the translation into a different language of documents from various scientific and technical fields, which include specialist terminology. Technical translation must be carried out by a technical translator with a good understanding of the subject matter and specialist terms in both source and target languages. They should also be a native speaker of the language which they are translating into (the target language).

There are many types of technical translation, from whitepapers, journal articles and press releases involving technical terminology, to user manuals and software strings with heavy technical content, all of which require a good understanding of the equipment or products involved.

A good technical translator will have degree level qualifications and many years’ experience working in the specialist engineering, medical or IT field for example. They should also have good research skills, keep their knowledge up to date and ask relevant questions to clarify any points of uncertainty. In some cases they may also have hands-on experience of working with technical equipment, which can be highly beneficial for the translation process.

The majority of technical translations handled by MTT are user manuals, which aim to instruct someone in how to use a piece of equipment, which could be potentially dangerous. When we carry out a technical translation project, the reader’s level of technical familiarity with the equipment needs to be taken into account – so, are they a layperson or a skilled worker, are they a normal user or a supervisor tasked with setting the equipment up.

Many technical manuals are written in a very direct style, with a clear, objective tone to ensure that the message is easily understood by the reader. In cases where hazardous equipment is being used for example, you need to be sure that both the operator and nearby colleagues stay safe and that the environment is also protected. There is no room for ambiguity or long, confusing sentences.

For the translation of technical marketing materials however, a blend of technical vocabulary and a creative writing style may be needed, which is much harder to achieve successfully. A good linguist for this type of project will have a technical background but also an understanding of how to make a persuasive point with flowing text.

At MTT we regularly handle translations of user manuals, technical press releases, software strings, technical brochures and datasheets and also website copy for technical clients. Over 50% of the work we handle is technical in nature, and most of our linguists have specialisms including technical subjects.

Our team of project managers have a background in engineering and IT, helping to ensure that your project will be handled sensitively and with an understanding of what is important for a good technical translation.

If you would like more information on technical translations or have a document you would like us to quote on please get in touch now on 01562 748778 or email

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