The translation of technical documentation should always be done by
professionals. This article explains why.
When a company plans to expand
to a foreign market, there are several things to think about – distribution,
pricing in the foreign currency and localization of the products, just to
name a few.
Localization includes not only adaption of the product to the foreign
culture, but also translation of all user information and technical
documentation. We all know user manuals where the technical translation has
been performed by a machine – they are good for a laugh, but usually not
suitable to make us familiar with the product, its functions and handling.
Good technical translation can be a lot of effort – generally, you should
always invest just as much time and money into the translation of your
documents as you did into the original copywriting. That means that the
technical translation is performed by a native speaker of the target
language who not only has a degree in linguistics, but also in his field of
specialization – which may be telecommunications, software engineering or
aerospace technology. A technical translator must be familiar with all legal
regulations of the target country – after all, if a user is harmed while
using your product, this may lead to a liability claim.
When looking for a translation vendor, you should always be aware that
specialized technical translation can not just be performed by anyone. Look
for a translation agency that is ISO certified and uses native technical
translators. Ask for sample CVs to make sure the translators have the
technical background you need. Make sure the technical translation is
proofread by a second native speaking specialist – a service that should be
included in the price for the translations. Some technical translation
vendors offer full localization of a product – take advantage of their
knowledge and experience, especially if you are moving into a market you are
not familiar with yourself.