Tips for technical translators

Tips for Arabic technical translators

Translating technical material from one language to another is one of the most difficult types of translation.

Technical text translation from one language to another is a highly complex process.

I am a specialist translator of technical material, including manuals, leaflets, guidelines, from Arabic to English and vice versa, and I will share a few tips that could be very helpful for those interested or would like to go on a technical translation career.

Build knowledge

For any technical translator, knowledge is an absolute necessity. If you do not have enough knowledge about technological and technical aspects, it would be nigh on impossible to translate a text of a technical nature from one language to another.

This is because translation is not a matter of a word-for-word rendition; it requires full grasp and understanding of the text in order for it to be transferred into another language.

Without technical knowledge about the subject, it becomes really challenging and difficult to understand, and consequently difficult to translate.

Grounding in technical knowledge enables the translator to be well versed in the vocabulary and style of technical writing as well.

To develop technical knowledge and information, the translator must read books, well-researched press articles, and studies, in addition to academic articles and essays that discuss technical topics. This should ideally be in both languages, the source and the target.

The formulation of an adequate level of technical knowledge puts the translator at ease when translating a technical text from one language to another.

Arabic translation services

Resources availability

As a technical translator for many years, I have made sure I had access to three types of resources instrumental in technical translation.

The first resource is specialist dictionaries. As a translator, you will need to research to choose the best technical dictionaries out there. You can certainly get this from reading users' reviews, comments as well as assessments shared online or you can simply check with your senior colleagues or fellow translators.

Once you have established which dictionaries are the most useful, you will certainly need to get them either available as a hard copy, or online or installed on your PC.

Technical glossaries are your second resource. Those are widely available online and they are very helpful for any technical translator.

Google Translate can be used as your third resource. Yes, Google Translate, but DO NOT rely on it to translate for you. The good thing about Google Translate is that it sometimes provides the translation of certain complex technical terms that you can spend hours and hours searching for elsewhere.

Google is a very helpful handy resource if you are translating a text with very highly complex technical terms and expressions.

Questioning and research

Learn how to question information and knowledge.

How and why? There are translation-centric question and answer web forums and many of the members of these forums discuss the best translation for certain words.

From experience, quite often what is classified by the forum moderators as "the best answer" is in fact not the most accurate rendition of the original word, and in some cases it can even be a mistranslation.

Therefore, any technical translator MUST be questioning and do appropriate research if they are faced with a difficult term to translate, not just take what is available on these forums for granted.

Technology

Operating in the field of Arabic technical translation, you will find yourself coming across certain terms and expressions over and over again in the material you are translating, so using a piece of software such as Trados will certainly be of great help to you.

For those who do not know much about Trados, it is a computer-assisted translation tool and translation memory software with features to help translators to translate more quickly and more easily.

Mohamed Ibrahim is a current translator with the Arabic translation services provider Loghat Arabic Translation.