The principles of professional technical translation
Professional technical translation is based on precise and shared procedures. These rules are acquired through appropriate training (sectoral translation courses) and are perfected with work experience; our community of mother-tongue technical translators, now engaged with us in the fields of professional translation for twenty years, apply them daily in their professional activity. In addition, our technical translators avoid using certain English-speaking words, casts and loanwords that make translations passive and like many others on the Web. Even for technical texts we believe that the preference for the choice of alter mother-tongue and original expressions should be preserved.
Introduction to technical translations - Technical translation is a job only for specialists!
A technical text has a precise terminology in which the text involves a greater denotation to the detriment of the connotation. Technical terminology is not affected by the phenomena of spontaneous evolution of languages but can change only according to the technical progress that evolves and perfects each of its instruments.
Technical language is isomorphic (from the Greek isos = equal and morphé = form) from a lexical point of view: each concept corresponds to only one sign; and to a concept A expressed by a sign A1 in one language, unequivocally corresponds a sign B in another language.
The use of specific terminology in a technical field facilitates understanding (and translation) once you master or have access to the terminology adopted.
How to deal with technical terms in translations
Correspondence and clarity of technical terms
The technical translation of a term must be the only possible translation, since its meaning is as precise as the concept it expresses (concept of perfect equivalence between the two meanings expressed by two different signifiers).
Satisfying technical experts
A quality technical translation must be directly recognizable by technical experts in the field; the terms used must belong faithfully to their current vocabulary to express specific concepts.
Consistency in terms of meaning
Nowadays the uniformity of professional technical translations is ensured using some C.A.T. software that directly and strictly maintain consistency between technical documentation of the same nature (for example, versions of user manuals). In projects where technical translation support software is not used, it is the translator who must necessarily develop technical glossaries and stylistic guides to be constantly referred to.
Request or definition of a technical glossary
For professional technical translation, a specific glossary to refer to is an essential tool to ensure the success of a project. It often happens that while operating in the same sector, each company can use different terms to define solutions, modules or tools with apparently similar meanings. That is why, at the beginning of each technical translation, it is strongly advisable to request a terminological glossary; if the latter is not available, it is necessary to develop one and deliver it to the client as a compendium to all future technical translations.
Definition of style guides
In its initial phase, a project of more than 10,000 words always needs the definition of its own stylistic structure. The structure corresponds to the most frequent syntactic formulations present in the text, especially with regard to technical manuals for users (for example, commands, titles, subtitles).
Graphical layout of punctuation
For technical documentation it is necessary to provide a clear graphic layout that allows the user to focus carefully on the technical content of the message. Let's quickly analyze what the main elements that make up the graphic structure of a text are:
The distance between punctuation marks and words
Each punctuation mark directly follows the word that precedes it, while with respect to the next word, it is always separated by a space. It is not at all elegant to combine a question mark with an exclamation mark or the repetition of both. This applies to both Italian and English.
The hyphen (-)
In printed books the sign to start at the end of the line is the hyphen (-). It also serves to combine two elements of a compound word.
The dash (–)
A little longer graphically, the dash is used to introduce direct speech and engravings.
Quotation marks ( ' ) (" ") (« »)
In Italian we do not use the single quotation marks «'», but the double ones, both high (" ") and low (« »). Low quotation marks should be used in direct speech, for file names, but also for menu items or buttons in graphical interfaces. In other cases, it is the high quotation marks that are used.
In English, all initial letters of the words that make up a title are capitalized; while in Italian only the first word keeps the initial capital.
To display an accented vowel, the reference symbols on the computer keyboard should always be used, (in Word, to find all the symbols related to accented vowels, consult the main menu Insert and click on the drop-down menu item Symbol), avoiding inserting an apostrophe or a reverse superscript after a vowel. On the vowels a, i, o, e, u conventionally the grave accent is used. As a rule, the grave accent should be used for the vowel e; however, in some cases the acute one is also used (perché - because, poiché - since, etc.)
It is considered an error to simulate accented vowels with apostrophes or superscripts. In addition, it is advisable to replace the strings "(c)" with the character "©" , or use the multiplication symbol "×" where the letter "x" is used.
Truncations and eliminations
In Italian, the elision requires the apostrophe sign, in the presence of truncation it should not be used (qual è = what it is), except in some cases (po', fa', etc.).
The euphonic form
Euphonic forms (ed, ad, od) should only be used if the next vowel is the same.
The conjunction "and"
The conjunction e should never be preceded by a comma, except when it serves as the closure of a graven.
Number: Foreign terms should never be conjugated in the plural.
Genre: The term takes on the gender it would have taken if it were translated into Italian; or the one that sounds best giving it an Italian meaning.
The "Italianized" version of a foreign term
So-called "Italianized" terms are used by many translators (such as "settare" from to set); however, it would be better to avoid its use. On the contrary, Italian terms that have the same meaning must be used – in this case, "to set" – or, without dwelling on misleading descriptions, to paraphrase their meaning.
The choice of pronoun
English texts are addressed directly to the user-reader through the pronoun "You"; in Italian, however, it is recommended to use impersonal forms. Infinity replaces the pronoun "si", which generally tends to weigh down the sentence. In English, programs often put "please" before actions addressed to the user. In Italian the programs communicate to the user what to do, without adding specific forms of courtesy (Please, visit [...]" - Visit [...]" )
The impersonal form
In English a program is expressed in the first person; in Italian impersonal constructions or passive forms are used.
In English it is frequent to use short periods linked together by punctuation symbols; in Italian, such syntax is considered lacking in style. Instead, it is advisable to bring together the periods, articulating them with main and subordinate (but pay attention to the dangers represented by parataxis and complicated hypotaxis).
Avoid literal translations
Experienced and qualified translators must always be able to faithfully express the meaning of a message, avoiding a literal translation as much as possible. It is undoubtedly a difficult exercise, but once carried out, the reader will not realize that the text comes from a text in a foreign language. This feature, combined with a perfect equivalence of meaning, represents a key quality indicator to evaluate a translation and the translator who performed it.
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