Technical documentation, also called “product documentation”, comprises all information and aids that describe a plant, machine, device, software or other technical products and instruct on their installation, use, maintenance or repair. This also includes compliance documents according to the EU Machine Directive 2006/42/EC, which are required to obtain the CE mark.
The translation of technical communication places a number of special demands on the translator, because it must
- comply with the applicable standards for technical documentation also in the foreign-language versions, e.g. with the EN 82079-1 “Safety of machinery – Instructions for use – General principles for design”, or the DIN EN ISO 20607 “Safety of machinery – Instructions for use – General principles for design”, the latter of which applies specifically to mechanical engineering;
- additionally comply with the foreign language terminology used in the standards relevant to the product itself – fortunately, the terminologically relevant “definitions” chapters of standards are often part of the publishers’ freely available previews;
- always be written clearly and concisely and at the same respond to a language’s particularities and common usage (nominal style vs. verbal style, use of active vs. passive, avoiding nested or tapeworm phrases, etc.);
- and use the generally accepted and corporate terminology in a correct and consistent manner.
From a translation perspective, a recurring problem is that many technical documentations are not written and translated by trained technical writers, but by engineers and developers who contribute a high level of subject-matter expertise, but in many cases have less knowledge of the relevant documentation standards and are sometimes lagging behind trained writers in terms of language. This is often reflected in inconsistent use of terms or ambiguous wording – and of course, it means that trained engineers get paid for documentation instead of design.
This is where DeFrEnT comes in: Mr Köbel goes beyond merely “translating” your documentation word by word, he will check your source text with an alert, unbiased eye. He will stay in touch with you during the project to avoid misunderstandings in the translation and to establish a uniform terminology for the future. This helps you to minimize liability risks and also to improve your source text, if you are looking for external feedback at no extra cost and with full confidentiality!
DeFrEnT uses a Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) environment for technical translations. The CAT tool increases the consistency of the delivered texts by suggesting sentences or fragments thereof that have already been translated by us (translation memory database), and by recognizing technical terms and offering their agreed, correct translation while warning of prohibited words (term database). Automated quality checks increase the reliability of your translation, for example by checking that numbers and units agree. In this way, you benefit from increased quality and faster delivery times.