5 Biggest Chinese Technical Document Translation Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid
Maria Krisette Capati, Author
23 January 2020
Working on technical translation projects requires a high level of expertise of professionals. The translators must be familiar with the subject matter or the industry.
They must also know the jargons and the practical application of software information. They should understand the contexts of a product’s manual. They should be knowledgable about the scientific research, which they’re going to translate.
Keep in mind that Chinese technical document translation isn’t like writing or transcreation of texts. The translated texts aren’t used for promotional or marketing campaigns.
The industries that often need technical translation are engineering, construction, biotechnology, and healthcare. Professional translators must be very careful in handling the documents. Errors in translation or missing information can result in lawsuits.
Prevention is better than cure as they say. Are you looking for a team of Chinese technical document translators? Need a team to handle your projects in volume? Make sure you take note of these mistakes and avoid them as much as possible.
#1 Overlooking cultural nuances
One of the technical translator’s mistakes is overlooking the cultural nuances. When there’s a word for word translations in documents that don’t reflect the culture and context, they are doom for misunderstandings.
So, make sure the team of technical translators understand the cultural differences between the two markets. (e.g. The United States and China, or Britain and China).
Keep in mind that the English source texts can be either in the U.S English or British English. Find native Chinese who knows the nooks and crannies of the manufacturing industry if you’re in that sector.
#2 Working with amateurs
Amateurs may offer low rates. And this is one of the biggest mistakes that you’ll ever make if you opt to settle for less. Not only they lack knowledge about the industry, but they also aren’t equipped with the right translation tools.
Technical document translation must be compliant with local and international standards. Quality should be your top priority from healthcare to mechanical engineering industries.
How can you avoid this mistake? Make sure your Chinese technical translators have backgrounds in translating patents, health and safety instructions, and manuals for business operations and processes. Ask for samples and or previous projects in the same industry that you are in.
#3 Neglecting to provide editable source files
Do you want to speed up the process of translation? Always be prepared to provide editable source files, including images and graphics. Your preparedness will result into smooth translation and localization.
Some technical documents have images and graphics. Without provisions of these editable source files, it’s likely for the team to recreate them. And that process requires duplicated efforts, plus cost and time in the project.
If there are graphics in those documents, it’s helpful for the translators if you link them. This will reduce the work and simplifies the placements in localized materials. Linking the graphics makes it easier for those who have translation tools.
#4 No organized file submission workflow
One of the biggest mistakes when working on technical translation projects is that the client fails to or doesn’t have an organized file submission workflow.
Some clients toss all files without providing clear instructions. File submission is critical for both the client and the team of technical translators.
To avoid this mistake, before diving into the translation, make sure you have streamlined all relevant files – from glossary to translation memory and other editable source files – that will be helpful for everyone.
Avoid including unused files so that all folders are structured to avoid delays of projects. A checklist of translation files and folders is helpful. You can upload them in a shared folder and shared to those who will handle the projects.
#5 Neglecting to map a budget for the entire translation project
Don’t estimate the power of mapping a budget for the translation project. What usually happens when you don’t have a budget is you might fall into the traps of those agencies that offer overpriced rates and charge you with rush fees.
One of the best ways to avoid this is to keep your translation memory (TM) if you already worked with previous translation vendors. In this way, in case you find a reliable Chinese translation team that provides better service and rates, you have something to hand-over to help in expediting the translation process.
Ask for rates and translation packages. Did you know there’s a way to save more costs on technical translation documents in Chinese? We’ve done it for most of our clients, too. So, it can also be done for you.
Do you want a hassle-free translation workflow of Chinese technical documents? The four pointers mentioned above will help you along the way, especially if this is your first-time to work with a translation agency.
Among the four, you should prioritize on organizing the file submission before moving to the next steps. Include your budget as well, especially if you’re going to have a high volume of translation work.
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As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who are already decided which projects to prioritize and understand the importance of translation and localization efforts.
Maria Krisette Capati
Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad.