As the number of companies looking to reach a wider target audience grows by the day, so does the need to accurately convey their messages to local markets. However, some companies feel that staying within budget means cutting corners in their technical document translation services.

Overlooking the importance of quality translation services can compromise your brand image, as inaccurate translation may cause offense, confusion, or worse—accidents or serious injury from equipment misuse, leading to corporate litigation.

While using machine translation, hiring a student, using a native speaking employee, or employing the services of a translator without subject matter expertise can provide you translation services on a budget, they’re not able to accurately and effectively convey your message as originally intended.

Let’s look at three reasons why this is the case.

Technical Document Translation Services Account for Cultural Sensitivity and Context

Free translation software may seem like the easiest and most cost-effective way of translating your technical document. However, word-for-word translation software fails to account for cultural sensitivities, nuances in language, and localization. This often results in translations that are confusing, or even insulting, for the target market.

Essentially, the problem is that free online translation tools can’t recognize context. The software doesn’t know when to speak colloquially versus formally, something vitally important for technical documents that include highly specialized language, which is required in the engineering, industrial, and medical industries.

Most importantly, not even the best online translation software has the capability to accurately translate in the hundreds of languages spoken today. Even it could, it would still need to understand grammatical structure, tone, rules, and vocabulary in every language used.

Lastly, online translation software cannot account for every type of context available, from science to technology, from medicine to politics. Put simply, the resulting word-for-word translation will sound mechanical, at best, and not produce the desired natural and accurate message you intended all along.

Technical Document Translation Services Ensure Your Message Is Easily Understood by Your Target Market

Maybe you’ve tried using online translation tools and discovered their ineffectiveness in accurately translating your message. So now you’re thinking about hiring a local community college student or a non-native speaker for your technical translation instead.

While this option can also save money in the short run, it can cost you dearly down the road. That’s because non-native speakers aren’t localization experts and aren’t attuned with a culture’s sensitivities and tone.

A Spanish-speaking college student of Mexican descent likely won’t realize that some of the same words used in Mexico can mean something entirely different in Colombia. As a result, your intended message can take on a completely different meaning and cause embarrassment or even lack of trust in your brand.

Beyond embarrassment and a negative view toward your company, an inaccurately translated technical document can result in more serious consequences in the form of lawsuits and liability.

Technical Document Translation Services Use Subject Matter Experts to Ensure Quality and Accuracy

A top-quality technical translation takes time to complete, and therefore looking for a rapidfire turnaround time for your project is highly unrealistic. This is especially true for projects that include industry-specific terminology that require specialized subject matter expertise.

It’s possible you’ve thought using someone in-house to translate your technical documents in an effort to save time and money. While this may seem like an obvious move, in reality, it presents more problems than solutions. For one, you won’t have complete control over the timeline for this project. Remember, this individual is already busy with a full-time job and other responsibilities, which can consequently delay the project.

Even if this employee happens to be a native speaker for the target audience, chances are this person doesn’t have subject matter expertise in the field that needs translation or the tools and expertise to deliver a polished, professional translation. The truth is, there’s no substitute for years of training, education, and experience in the industry-specific subject matter the document covers.

Only a subject matter expert can fully understand the terminology used to provide a quality and accurate translation. Without knowledge and experience in the specialized field, a translator will not fully understand an industry’s jargon and may provide you a translation full of errors and inaccuracies.

In summary, in an effort to save money on translations, manufacturers may actually cost themselves more in the long run, either through lost opportunities to communicate clearly or by having to do the translation over.


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.