How do you write a technical translation?

How do you write a technical translation?

English translation techniques

Scientific translation is dedicated to scientific and health texts, as its name suggests. Technical translation, on the other hand, is dedicated to technical texts, such as engineering or computer science, among many other technical specialties. In the IT field, we speak of software localization, i.e. the translation of software from one language to another, adapting the program to the culture of the target country.

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Translation techniques loan examples

It is not always possible to translate sentences with equivalent structures, so the translator must resort to several strategies in order to ensure the translation of a given text. These strategies have also been called translation procedures.

Borrowing consists of using a word or expression from the original text in the translated text. Borrowing is usually noted in italics and consists of writing the word in the source language; in other words, it is the non-translation of the word. An example of a borrowing is blue jeans from English. Another example is the word sandwich.

Reduction is the opposite of expansion. It is a technique of eliminating redundant elements used to produce a more concise translation or for structural or stylistic reasons, i.e. to avoid problems such as repetition, lack of naturalness or even confusion. It is also known as “omission”.

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Compensation is the technique used by translators when nuances are lost or when it is impossible to find a suitable match. Compensation allows the use of expansion and reduction. An example is the following sentence: “Boy, it began to rain like a bastard. In buckets, I swear to God” which was translated as “Jo! de pronto empezó a llover a cántaros! A deluge, I swear to God”. In this way, an attempt is made to recover the same effect as the original text.


Translating technical documents requires technical skills, as well as advanced knowledge of the source and target languages. Therefore, it is preferable that translations of this type only be done by native speakers of the target language. Perhaps because of this language barrier, many furniture self-assembly kit manufacturers/do-it-yourself companies try to avoid the problem by substituting words for pictures.

However, clarity is key: For example, there are machine manufacturers who need to provide safety instructions in a manual, so they use a series of easy-to-interpret instructions.

On the other hand, there are engineers/technicians who need to expand their market to potential international buyers. If they cannot highlight the advantages of their products and explain how they work, no matter how good they are, they will have lost all those “new” customers due to the lack of charisma in their marketing.

It is generally accepted that, in an ideal world, only specialists would do the job. That is, an engineer would translate a text on the maintenance of a solar panel or a lawyer would deal with a legal document.

Translation techniques pdf

So, when we talk about the steps to follow when translating a document, all this must be taken into account. But as translators, we can always recommend following these 7 steps in order to make a good quality translation.

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Most of us agree that the first step in the translation process should be to read the original text. Obviously, we are not going to know what we have to translate if we do not read first. So you have to read the document first to get an overall idea of it.

Often we have to look for words that we do not quite understand, especially if it is a technical or specialized text. Naturally, it is much easier to translate on subjects we are familiar with or like. This is true, but on many occasions we will have to translate texts that are not our favorite subjects. In order to familiarize ourselves with the terminology and consult with experts in the field to be translated. So you have to read and study the original document well.

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