Before translating, you have to understand that the translation of technical and specialized manuals is often a challenge for a translator who specializes in other kind of documents. It’s important to have a specific knowledge in the subject and a direct communication with the client.
In order to start translating a manual, you have to know its subject and the vocabulary in it. For this reason, it’s common to see that, when dealing with a very specific area, the translator is not only graduated in languages, but in the technical field for this kind of work.
If you want to start translating technical manuals, here are some tips so you can do it successfully.
Know your limits
My first and most important advice for you is, know your own limits. There are many translators who wouldn’t accept an assignment without reading the material to be translated first. So, that way, if the document isn’t in the area of knowledge of the translator, he or she can refuse to accept it. Even if it pays good money, it’s not worth the problems and a bad reputation if your translation isn’t to standard.
Make your own glossary
During your career as a manual translator, make your own glossaries according to the topic of the manual. A glossary will save you time in future jobs, because we can forget or have doubts about the correct translation of a word. You can even use pictures and images, if necessary.
And, if you are working directly on a Word document, write down the recurring terms so that you always translate them the same way, in order to maintain consistency throughout the manual.
Know and meet international standards
Generally, the recommendations of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the National American Standards Institute (ANSI), among others, are mentioned for technical manuals .
So, keep them in mind when translating a manual so you can better understand its context and convey its content into the target language in the best possible way.
Keep a good communication with the customer
It is normal to have doubts when translating, therefore it is important to have a direct communication with the client to clarify any questions that may arise.
Sometimes clients may send you scanned documents that are difficult to understand or that have already been translated; said translation may contain mistakes. So, in oder to avoid misunderstandings, it is best to talk to client and let them know your doubts. Remember, the consequences of mistranslating a technical manual could be catastrophic.
Use every resource at hand and get to know the company.
Finally, if a company hires you for several jobs, it’d be best to know does it operates, its products, and services. That way you’ll be familiar with the processes, subjects and vocabulary of future assignments.