Scientific translation and technical translation

Scientific translation and technical translation

The terms technical and scientific translation are widely used today, but are they actually the same? Do they involve the same kind of work? Let's explore this topic below.

What is technical translation?

Technical translation is just one of countless types of specialised translation and refers to texts containing a large amount of terminology related to a specific subject.

These texts usually have some common features:

  1. These always refer to a scientific discipline
  2. The author is a specialist in the subject
  3. Documents of this type usually have a specific structure

In practice, this type of translation is required for technical documents such as handbooks, user guides, technical specifications, patents and budgets, among others areas.

Requirements of a technical translator

This type of translation is complex and demanding. It requires specific skills by the translator. These translations have the double difficulty of language and technique, and require highly experienced translators whose native language is the target language, and who also have a thorough knowledge of the subject.

The technical and professional skill of the translator will ensure a faithful translation of the original document, thanks to the use of the appropriate terminology. The technical translator must be fully up-to-date with any changes in terminology and the appearance of new terms, making translation easier and faster, and also providing the guarantee of a professional and quality translation.

Tips for successfully translating technical texts

  1. Understand the context: it is essential to know the target, to understand the aim of the text and its application.
  2. Be well-informed and up-to-date: before starting the translation, the translator must research the subject in order to avoid any errors of interpretation. He/she should also have glossaries and know where to go if he/she has any doubts to avoid wasting time.
  3. Initials, abbreviations and acronyms: it may happen that between different areas of knowledge different initials coincide designated to different elements. It is important to be aware of the writing conventions of these elements (with or without a full stop, upper or lower case letters, spaces, etc.).
  4. Units of measure and figures: figures must be written correctly in the target language and the necessary conversions must be made in order to ensure that the text can be understood.


Scientific translation

Like medical translation, scientific translation is one of the more delicate areas of translation, insofar as it requires translators to work in a very thorough and detailed way. Because of this, specialised translators are always used for this kind of work in order to ensure coherence and accuracy in the translation.

Scientific language

One of the most important challenges for translators specialised in this field is scientific language, which, as is clear from the name itself, is language written by scientists that occurs in fields such as medicine, science and technology.  Scientific language is academic, specialised and theoretical.  Scientific language seeks to transmit knowledge, perspectives or findings, usually in the context of scientific articles, essays, textbooks and treatises. The target audience is usually a specific scientific or academic community or, in the case of promotional texts, the educated general public.


Scientific translation and technical translation

In short, it is common for these two terms to be used somewhat interchangeably, suggesting that technical translation refers only to scientific fields, and that scientific translation is related to scientific documents. But in reality, technical translation and scientific translation can be both similar and different. As always, everything depends on the text to be translated, insofar as scientific and technical language are both distinguished by their function, target audience, context and text type.

Do you need a technical translation? Need a scientific translation? Let's talk!

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