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Scientific jargon and notation are often complicated and difficult to understand, even in English. Translating scientific content into a foreign language requires particular attention to detail to ensure that the content is useful and accessible.
With that in mind, there’s likely one very obvious question—how long will a scientific translation take? When you’re working hard to complete scientific translations on a deadline, consider these things to choose the best translation partner.
Take Time to Find the Words
This may seem a bit contradictory, but in the end, you will improve the timeliness of your scientific translation if you find the right balance between being concise and being clear. Translations can get muddy when you focus solely on keeping your text brief. While brevity may be helpful in some cases, when communicating complex ideas and facts, it’s crucial that you don’t forego clarity in exchange for using fewer words.
In some cases, it may be helpful for you to consider the aesthetics of your document. Memory and understanding can be enhanced by using visual elements like a graph or chart. Lay out your source text exactly as you want to present it and supply your source files to your translation partner so that they can provide a translated file that mirrors the look and feel.
Be sure to follow best practices to ensure your project can be easily translated, by keeping your label text accessible (i.e. not embedded in images). You will also want to communicate concisely, yet accurately. This may involve shortening sentences, using common words, and removing company-specific jargon.
When preparing your content for scientific translations, remember to respect the audience and how they will be reading the information. Are they subject matter experts or the general public? Your target audience may be one of the deciding factors in determining exactly how a document will be translated.
Discussing your project, in advance, with your translation service, may provide you with the best course-of-action to l reduce the time and money spent on your project.
Also, be sure to ask your translation partner about the translators responsible for your project to ensure that they are qualified to take on a scientific translation.
What’s That Symbol?
Scientific documents can be heavy on numbers and symbols. When it comes to a scientific translation, it’s crucial that those elements remain accurate throughout the document. Here are a couple of tips for getting your project on track before it even begins:
Ask if translators are SMEs (subject matter experts)
You’ve got complex, important information to share, so how do you get it right? Make sure that SMEs are translating your documents. SMEs are uniquely qualified because they maintain high-level education, extensive industry experience, and are native speakers.
Most important, SMEs have a thorough understanding of how scientific notation varies across language. When data is being translated, you want to know that your translation partner is getting the details right.
Partnering with a translation service who uses SMEs for your scientific translation will save time by avoiding going back-and-forth over data and notation.
Use a style guide
Style guides are a great time-saving tool for any translation project. Before beginning, it’s helpful for your company to create a glossary and style guide that can assist translators with formatting, jargon, symbols, and preferred phrases.
Many a debate has occurred over notation and language. With a style guide, you and your translation partner can nearly eliminate time-consuming, back-and-forth communication. Your translator(s) will have access to your style guide and know exactly how to approach your scientific translation project.
If you do create a style guide or glossary, be sure to address symbols, acronyms, and scientific notation. In general, acronyms can present serious translation problems since they tend to be language specific. Decide in advance if you want to leave them in English, or provide definitions for your translator to avoid delays in your project. It’s helpful to consider how the use of acronyms and/or abbreviations affect your marketing and branding objectives.
Who Edits and Proofreads?
Translation projects necessitate a thorough review. Whether it’s a scientific translation or a novel, someone highly qualified must be responsible for taking the time to edit and proofread the document for accuracy and clarity of message. This should be done by comparing the translated version to your original source file, to ensure that is complete and conveys your exact message and tone.
Before choosing your translation partner, ask what their process is: do native speaking translators edit and proof? If they use dedicated editors and proofreaders, are there SOPs (standard operating procedures) for how they communicate with translators? A defined process and the tools to manage it are essential to a successful outcome.
If a translation service is unclear about how they approach editing and proofreading, consider a partner who has an established process. Be sure that the proofers are as qualified as the translators to address the complexities of scientific translations. This will ensure a timely and accurate end result.
Remember, getting a document right takes time. Regardless of how a translation service address editing and proofreading, what’s most important is that your final document is clear and accurate. Settling for quick proofing can lead to inaccuracies that can take more time to fix down the line.
Scientific translations are no joke. They require the utmost attention to detail. That’s why you deserve a qualified translation partner that understands your subject matter, needs and timeline. Contact International Language Services today and learn more about how we can help with your next scientific translation project!