How do you define technical translations?

Published 14th December 2011
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When requesting translation services you may find that you are quoted different rates for ‘general translations’ and ‘technical translations’. The word ‘technical’ can be pretty difficult to define, so how do you know whether your piece of work falls under the category of ‘technical translation services’?

For many language service providers, the term ‘technical translations’ is used to designate any project that involves the translation of specialist terminology. Of course, this includes technical sectors in the obvious sense – such as manufacturing, electronics, engineering – but also other specialist fields, such as complex medical or legal documents. In short, if a document contains specialist terminology that will require the services of a specially trained technical translator, or significant background research, then it can be considered a ‘technical translation’. Technical translators are often much more highly qualified and experienced than other translators.

In contrast, not all documents that contain content relating to a technical field will be classed as ‘technical translations’. For example, you could have an advertisement for a new technical gadget that doesn’t actually contain any complex information, therefore a general rate would apply.

So before contacting any technical translation agency, check through the content of your document, so that you can be sure you’re being quoted the correct rate for the service you require. You don’t want to be paying more than you need to be, but similarly you should be wary of a quotation that seems very cheap if it involves a very specialist document or website. A good translation agency will insist on charging slightly more for technical translations as they’ll understand the greater amount of time and effort involved in ensuring the most relevant translations for specialist terms. The greater the skill and expertise required for the job, the more expensive it will be.

So next time you hear the term ‘technical translation services’ make sure you question exactly what it means – can the term be used more generally to designate any specialist terminology? At Lingua Translations we love a challenge, and with hundreds of translators covering numerous specialist fields we welcome even the most complex technical translations, so do make sure you get in contact!

Click here to find out more about technical translations.

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