Grammatical and stylistic features of written translation of technical documents

Writing your thoughts down is an important and challenging task. Any written translation of technical or specific information is complicated not only by the understanding of the author’s professional vocabulary, but also by the adaptation of thoughts, terms, processes, technologies, etc. to the way of thinking of the reader in the target language. Thus, the priority is given not to the original, but to the translated text.

Stylistics, vocabulary and grammar are the three cornerstones for creating a quality translation of technical documentation. Let us briefly consider their influence on translation, and use the English-Russian direction of translation as an example.

Stylistics, vocabulary and grammar

The style of presentation is determined by the choice of words and the way of conveying information, that is, what we say and how we convey the essence.
In technical documentation, there is almost always a special terminology, and some words come from various languages ​​and are firmly included in a special lexicon. It is these words, used exclusively to the point, that make the translation as accurate and truly technical as possible. This way the logical connections between the parts of the text are maintained and the style is preserved. Service words and corresponding phrases play an important role.

There are established, unshakable and binding norms. For example, translations of technical texts do not use first or even second person narration – only passive, vaguely personal or generally impersonal verbal constructions. Also, direct or indirect appeal to the reader is not accepted (we, you, you, they, etc.).

Depending on the content of the source text and its translation, complex and complex sentences are used, in which the verbs are in an impersonal form.

Emotions in technical translations

The translator does not sell anything, does not advertise, but only informs. He also does not express his thoughts and feelings about what he read. His task is to assimilate the logic of the original text, find suitable words, terms and phrases, and then concisely (but not necessarily dryly) convey them to the reader in translation. Emotionally colored words and expressive expressions should be carefully avoided, leaving impartial logic.

An example is the expression “high technology”: in design it is often translated as “high-tech” style, but in a technical text this is unacceptable. As a phrase, it translates as “high (or modern) technology”, and as an adjective – as “high-tech.”

Tasks of a technical documentation translator

Analysis of the type of text to be translated: understanding the subject matter of the original, the intellectual and technical level of the author, as well as the level of complexity of the text and assessment of its target audience.
Selection of criteria for translation, determined by the intended readership. For example, translation of an article written by an academician, but intended for a professor who will convey this information to students. It’s another matter when an academician writes in one language what the same academician will read in translation.
Master abbreviations, special terminology and accurately understand the phraseology, which may differ slightly from the commonly used one. Often one specific word or phrase accurately conveys the meaning and proves the high qualifications of the translator.
Important! It is the precise and accurate use of special terms and turns of speech that makes the translation of technical texts of high quality. If there are no such words, then the text will be considered insufficiently natural, and if they are used inaccurately, then the translation cannot be professional.

It is clear that the translation of a reference book or catalog differs from the translation of an article or abstract, and the instructions for the device differ from a technical report, however, you should always use the exact terminology (and sometimes in accordance with international standards of notation). Often not translation is used, but transliteration, and also in accordance with the current rules of the target language (a vivid example is the names of the components in the composition of the medicine).

Special requirements when translating specifications, catalogs, patents, reports and similar documentation: adhere to firm standards and templates, as well as specific terminology.

After the end of the transfer

Once again, be sure that the translation contains complete and accurate information, targeted at the reader. It is necessary to check the terminology and its richness so that the audience can comfortably read the translation, re-read it again so that words and sentences are built smoothly and logically.