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How to translate manuals?

How to translate manuals?

Translation of manuals is a very popular service when it comes to specialist translation, in particular technical translation. In order to translate such texts well, a translator must have several specific skills and predispositions. A translation agency that has necessary resources can provide this type of service at the highest level.

Translation of manuals is a popular and not particularly complicated service, but – like any other technical translation – it requires proper skills.

What skills should a translator have?

To translate a manual well, a translator must, first of all, have a great command of the two languages involved. This is absolutely necessary for any type of translation, yet in the case of manuals, this is not enough. The accuracy of translation and brevity are of great importance as well. Translation of instructions included in a manual needs to be faithful and absolutely clear. The translator has simply to be able to understand what the user should do and explain it in the target language. That’s why translators of manuals should be sufficiently knowledgeable about the field a given manual concerns.

Manual translation is in fact very similar to translation of technical texts. It is necessary to know specific vocabulary and common phrases that make comprehension of this type of content easier.

How to translate manuals?
The words Read the Manual on a book cover offering instructions, help and advice for a project or task you must learn and complete

Tools that help with technical translation

Translation of manuals requires not only necessary translation skills, but also certain tools that make such translation consistent and clear to the user. The key ones include computer-assisted translation software. Such software or platforms enable smooth and efficient translation based on previously translated texts.

With such software translators can use glossaries. These are specialist thematic dictionaries compiled based on previous translation projects. Such glossaries are particularly useful when it comes to translation of manuals. By using glossaries, the translator can be sure to always use the same terms prompted automatically by the software, as consistency in explaining technical issues guarantees that instructions contained in manuals will be understood.

CAT software is used by translators and translation agencies that care about developing a knowledge base in various fields. With CAT software, a customer that commissions, e.g. translation of a manual from English into Polish, can be sure that it will be done relying on experience in translation in a specific field. Manufactures of household appliances, electronic products or other equipment usually choose one translation provider that will ensure the highest quality of services.

Fields in which translations of manuals is particularly common

What comes first to mind as regards manual translation is translation for the technology industry. Such services are indeed ordered most often by manufacturers of household appliances and electronic products like computers or telephones. A significant part of such equipment is manufactured in Asian countries, which is why technical translation is so common in our part of the globe. The point is that such translation is often done based on another translation, which makes it a bit more difficult to do. To eliminate any errors it is far better to translate directly the source text. This way an experienced translator will easily understand the original content and translate it into the target language. Relying on previous translations increases the risk of mistranslation, as such previous translations may contain errors.

Household appliances and electronic products are not the only goods that require manual translation. Translation of manuals regarding computer and board games as well as toys is also very common, as these products are often developed in faraway countries and require such adaptation to target markets – also the Polish one. Translation of manuals is a very broad and interesting field that requires constant development of translation skills and aids such as extensive translation memories.

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