Technology can be great for many things. It can improve services that were otherwise less effective, and in many cases, provide a higher level of accuracy. However, that cannot be said for free technical translation services.

Because there are subtleties even within languages, word-for-word translation software doesn’t account for localization and cultural sensitivities. As a result, translations can end up being confusing—or even insulting—for the target audience.

Furthermore, inaccurate translation in manuals and other technical documents can pose a financial liability for your company. Essentially, cutting costs by using free translation services may end up costing you more in the long run.

Let’s look at three reasons why you shouldn’t rely on free translation services for your technical translation:

Free Technical Translation Services Lack Subject Matter Expertise

Simply translating a document word-for-word won’t necessarily convey the intended message accurately. This is especially true for technical documents, where subject matter expertise is of vital importance.

Translators who are subject matter experts pay extreme attention to detail in the source document to ensure they produce an accurate translation that conveys the entirety of the message intended. Not only do they understand the language being translated, but they also have extensive experience working in the subject matter they’re translating.

Our team at ILS includes translators who are both professional translators and subject matter experts. This ensures that your translated document conveys the intended meaning of the source document accurately—something impossible for free translation services to match.

Free Technical Translation Services Present Major Limitations in Context

A free translation service won’t know when to use colloquial versus formal translation. This is a facet of translation that’s essential for technical documents, including medical documents like clinical trial materials. For example, you would want to maintain formal terminology such as “myocardial infarction” instead of translating to the less formal term, “heart attack.”

Without constant software updates, free translation software also struggles to keep up with frequent changes in language. The meaning and context of words change all the time.

Even the best translation software doesn’t have the scope to work with the thousands, or even hundreds of languages spoken today. Assuming it did, there’d still be major hurdles to overcome—software would need to account for grammatical structure, rules, and vocabulary for every language involved.

Additionally, it’d have to recognize every word and concept in each language, ranging from daily conversations to quantum physics. The software would need to encompass medicine, science, technology, politics, and every other conceivable context. The reality is that software can’t match that need.

Free Technical Translation Services Sound Mechanical

While free technical translation services are convenient and in many cases instantaneous, the end result will not produce a natural, fluently readable translation. Translation software services produce mechanical, word-for-word translation without accounting for context and flow.

Only an experienced, professional translator with subject matter expertise can properly convey a company’s intended message. Effective technical translation goes beyond just translating words—it is about understanding both the source language and the complexities that come with delivering the correct message to the target market.

Each language has nuances, contexts, and cultural rules. Only human translators can ensure that technical translation makes sense in terms of grammar, slang, tone, and consistency in messaging across all languages.

So, what is the true cost of using free translation services for your technical translation?

Very high, if you consider the extra money you’ll spend re-launching a product because your poorly translated message caused offense, outrage, or just plain confusion in your target audience. You’ll also need to hire a professional translation services company to retranslate your message.

And finally, you have to consider the potential high costs related to lawsuits from injuries and personal harm, caused by product misuse as a result of confusing or inaccurate direction in your technical documents or product manuals.


The Manufacturers Guide to Technical Translation

Learn all you need to know about technical document translation, key questions to ask, and critical pitfalls to avoid.