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Why is technical translation so difficult for many translators?

Defining technical translation:

Technical translation is something that includes translation of documents such as user guides, owner’s manuals, or instructions for use or directions for use. These documents are usually written by writers from the technical background who are trained for specific products and services. Some of the technical translation examples are IT manuals, software product manuals or any product manuals. These technical documents involve texts which are related to technological reforms and scientific information and technical subject matters. These documents tend to have specialized key terminologies. Technical translation is not only about translating the significant terminologies correctly. The translator needs to stick to the agenda and write the facts accurately with expertise. Some 10% of the whole subject matter comprises of technical terms. Rest is natural language and the co-ordination is the key. Translators who aren’t from the technical background or are not thorough with their job profiles face issues with translation of technical texts.

The understanding of the effect technology and culture on various factors is a basic need for someone who wants to be a technical translator. These documents need to culturally-appropriate and naturally styled giving the appropriate meaning of the subject matter. 


Like every other industry, scientific and technical areas of study have had its own limelight. As fast as the technological area of study is developing, so is the terminologies and more is the research work. This has led to an era where translators usually aren’t aware of the terminologies or the names differ for different parts. These aspects make simple translation thrice as tough as translation already is.

The challenges that a translator faces are to stick to the meaning and not overlook the emotion or sentiment but with technical translation, the difficulty level is raised by a bar. They have to understand the technical outcome and then translate without changing the meaning. The technical translator must have knowledge of the subject matter. There is no going around it. The translator must understand a term’s deeper meaning so that appropriate research could be made, even if it does not have a semblance to the original language. One can refer to free technical translation dictionary.

Better Understanding of issues:

The styles of writing in different languages and the appropriate translation in the required style of writing is a grave concern. For effective translation it is must that the translator recreates the style of translating though that is not any easy task to take upon. The more accurate and precise the article is, the better the translation is said to be. To stick to the point and be accurate with the use of words is a necessity for a technical translator. The user should be able to read the instructions in their respective languages and be able to understand. If the translation is not up to the mark and the reader can’t understand things, the translation fails and is a failure for the translator too.

One of the biggest challenges in technical translation is to make instructions and texts as easy to understand in the target language as in the original. The reason the manuals are said to be user friendly is because they are translated in a way to suit the needs of the reader. The vocabulary needs to be simple, effective and precise. The need of the vocabulary to align with the text formatting and meaning is one big challenge for our translators.

Linguistic skillset with technical mindset:

It takes a lot of knowledge and understanding of both linguistic skillset and scientific knowledge to be able to be a good technical translator. The subject matter needs more thorough understanding and an unprejudiced brain to perceive and process necessary information. The translator needs to be thorough with the kind of work the particular client does and expects. The major problems that translators face is the text length, and as we know the target language might have a complete different set of words for the same sentence, this is where the translator needs to show his magnum opus and make it simpler. The idea is not only to get the job done but also to help people make the best out of the translated texts. Text length is one of the major problems, as this applies to the written target languages, since the same idea when expressed in other languages would not have the same number of characters or words.

These are the challenges that most of the translators face on a daily basis, the more you work, the better the understanding but it also requires people with certain skill sets to step up for these specific translations.

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