How to Choose a Technical Document Translation Service

  |  April 5, 2017

How to choose the right technical document translation service.

The most effective translations occur when the recipient of the message understands precisely what was intended by the messenger. As straightforward as this may sound, there’s a lot of room for confusion within this seemingly simple process.

Effective and accurate technical document translation service requires an in-depth understanding of language, communication, and cultural differences. Therefore, it’s essential that the person translating can communicate the message exactly as it was intended by the original author.

In industries like medical device and industrial manufacturing, this is especially important. Customers rely heavily on accurately translated documents—and misunderstandings can have serious repercussions.

Several factors need to be considered before investing in a technical document translation service. Here are five important questions to ask before hiring a translation services company:    

Are the Technical Translators Providing the Document Translation Service via Native Speakers?

Part of accurate translation involves the correct use of grammar and vocabulary. However,  grammar and vocabulary needs to be provided in the right contextual circumstances—and with cultural nuances take into account.

Native speakers of the target language understand such cultural considerations and how to properly say things depending on context, having experienced these conditions throughout their lives.

Non-native translators, while proficient in grammar and vocabulary, may not be aware of specific connotations and nuances that a native speaker fully understands. Therefore, handing your project to a non-native speaker runs the risk of the translated document containing simple, or even embarrassing, errors.

For example, a translator who learned Spanish in Mexico and is hired by a fruit company based in Argentina can inadvertently make a grammatical mistake that can cause the fruit company thousands of dollars in revenue, as well as a blow to their reputation. While in Mexico the word for pineapple is “piña,” in Argentina this same word means “punch in the face,” as they prefer to call pineapple “anana” instead.

Do the Translators Providing the Technical Document Translation Service Have Industry Expertise?

When it comes to technical document translation services, there are three type of translating professionals: experts in translations, experts in a specialized field, and experts in both.

The first type, of course, is the most common. While the third is most desirable, it’s also the least common. At International Language Services all of our translators are professional linguists as well as subject matter experts. Why does this matter?

Imagine a cardiologist and receiving a document translated by someone with no subject matter expertise in cardiology. Technical terms and specialized language unique to the medical field may be replaced by common language that sounds unprofessional and compromising. Thus, the message conveyed can easily miss the specific intent.

Without subject matter expertise, a translator will never know if his or her translated technical document is meeting its intended goal.

Are Checks in Place to Ensure the Technical Document Translation Service Is Accurate?

Technical translations are a unique category. Ranging from manuals to how-to-guides to product specification sheets, they contain crucial details that must be accurately conveyed to readers.

Improper unit conversions, naming conventions, or even images can take a technical document from effective to terrible or worse, becoming a liability for your company.

That’s why it’s vital to have  quality checks, including editing and proofing, in place to ensure the translated document exactly represents the source document and no detail is overlooked. At ILS, a two-person translator team is assigned to every project—one translator provides the initial translation, while the other ensures the translation completely and accurately conveys the message of your document.

Will the Technical Document Translation Service Reflect Well on our Company?

Accurate translation is important for a smooth and continuous business flow. The last thing you want as a company is to treat technical document translation as an afterthought.

Considerable consequences may result from a lax attitude towards translation. Take for example the case of the Affordable Care Act. Their Spanish website was launched under the name “Cuidado de Salud,” which translates to “for the caution of health.” The resulting confusion resulted in a relatively paltry 4 percent enrollment rate among all Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens in the first year.

Whether computer-generated translation services were used or not, this error caused delays that proved costly and could have easily been avoided if quality translation services been applied.

Will the Technical Document Translation Service Fit Within Our Budget?

Like many companies, you’re carefully managing your budget. However, sacrificing the quality of your company’s translations for the launch of your product in a foreign market to save some money shouldn’t be an option.

We understand that. At ILS, we’ve worked with organizations of all levels—from start-ups to global corporations—to provide technical document translation services that not only adhere to high quality standards, but also fit within their budget.

A good starting point to help you budget your technical document translation is to research languages. Keep your target audience in mind and cater to their particular needs. If targeting in Spanish speakers, for example, will Latin American Spanish be effective or should you consider a more localized version, say specifically for Mexico, to better appeal to your audience?  

We can help determine languages that make the most sense for your company and provide a quote to help you plan ahead.

ILS specializes in technical document translation services that are true to your company’s image and messaging, while focusing on your target market’s needs. We work with all file formats to deliver complete and accurate translated documents within your budgetary and time frame requirements.

Barb Sichel, Director of Business Development at International Language Services, Inc., has spent the last 10 years helping companies simplify and streamline the translation process. She is dedicated to educating medical device and industrial manufacturers of all sizes on how to ensure smooth, cost efficient completion of their translation projects.

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