Why Automated Technical Document Translation Won’t Cut It in the Automotive Industry

  |  June 21, 2017

Automated technical document translation isn’t effective for the automotive industry.

The automotive industry has an expansive global reach, with auto parts and testing systems transported from one part of the world to another.

While automated technical translation is often an option for companies strapped for time and on a budget, this option cannot account for nuances in technical language, nor can it effectively translate measurements or detailed engineering documentations that are critical in the automotive industry.

For this reason, the need for accurate document translation is both high and essential.

Using automated translation to translate technical documents just isn’t good enough—many variables exist that translation software simply can’t handle. These include:

  • Technical language
  • Precision
  • Nuances of expression in different languages
  • Cultural considerations
  • Differences in measurements

Automotive industry documents may also include images of auto parts, and their labels must be accurate and perfectly understood by the target market.

Let’s look at three reasons why automated technical document translation won’t cut it in the automotive industry:

Automated Technical Document Translation Lacks Subject Matter Expertise

One reason why automated technical document translation cannot replace professional human translation is the same reason why a novice translator also cannot replace a professional human translator: Accurate technical translation requires more than just knowledge of two languages.

It requires specialization in the subject matter being translated, as well as thorough knowledge of cultural and regional differences of the target market. For the automotive industry, this is vitally important.

Automated technical translation produces mechanical, word-for-word translation without accounting for context and nuances. Not only are professional translators native speakers of the language being translated, but they also have extensive experience in the subject matter they’re translating.

At ILS, our team includes both professional translators and subject matter experts. This ensures your translated technical document accurately conveys the intended meaning of the source document. This is something quite impossible for automated technical translation to match.

Automated Technical Document Translation Can Only Handle a Limited Number of Languages

Even the leading automated translation software today can only handle a limited amount of languages. Google Translate, for example, only supports 80 languages.

There are thousands of languages in existence today, meaning many quite simply can’t be translated by automated software.

Additionally, in some languages, there’s gender usage—a male or female voice. In the Thai language, for example, the word “I” can be translated in at least 10 different ways, depending on context and gender. A professional translator will know how to accurately translate an automotive technical document so that nuance and cultural customs are effectively understood by the end user.

A company that uses automated technical document translation can risk losing credibility in the eyes of the targeted audience, as well as causing insult, or worse—damage to equipment or serious injury as a result of product misuse because of incorrect grammar or misspelled terminology.

Automated Technical Document Translation Can’t Translate Measurements Accurately

Measurements and specialized terminology are key parts of automotive technical documents. These include instruction manuals and product information. Because countries use different numerical values and measurement systems, automated translation cannot convert these measurements accurately and effectively.

A single misplaced number or decimal point can result in huge losses for a company looking to expand into a new market. Times and temperatures also vary in different countries. Reading wrong numerical values for time can significantly affect or delay

production at the factory, while incorrect temperature values may pose great risk for staff involved in chemical processes at an automotive plant.

Only an experienced professional translator with subject matter expertise can accurately convey the intended message from the original document with a hundred percent accuracy.

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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