Translators need to understand perfectly the subject matter of the text.
Technical translators will have some specialized technical knowledge (medical, botanics, engineering, legal, sports, etc).
eg.1. translation of the letter of a landlord to the former landlord of the property. "...between the ground belonging to the Xxx and the patch of ground that leads from the house under the bridge to the back garden. However, the limit as it is now is the wall of the house itself and it continues in the same line as the present wall, gate and grille as far as the back garden wall (see enclosed plan)." Without a visual support: a blueprint or pictures which allow the translator to grasp not only the meaning of sentences but what they actually refer to so they can reformulate in the target language!
eg. 1. "the E.U. Commission published an Energy Review Package which included a Bio Fuels Progress Report "
The official name of these documents in the target language needs to be used in the translation.
eg. 2. A text about the General Director of a large African financial institution, in a meeting with members of staff in his office, using a Blackberry. The Director is not snacking on juicy blackberries with his staff, of course. If the translator doesn't know what a Blackberry is (it is still a fairly recent technology and used by only a category of the population) or how to translate it for a specific public, some research will be required.
5. Writing in an accurate, natural and communicative way
Accurate - Writing norms can differ between cultures. In a loan agreement in English the 1rst and 2nd person are used: "When we use the words "you" or "your" we mean the debtor in the agreement. When we use the word "we", "us" or "our" we mean B. B. D. Corporation." In French , the 3rd person ("the debtor", "the creditor") would be used!
Natural - A translation should read as if it had been written in the target language.
Communicative - A translation must be as communicative as the source text so its style and register may also be adapted to the target audience. A translation for scientists will not be the same as a translation for journalists or school children.
Grammar and word length differ from one language to another. For instance, there is a 'swelling' of about 20% between an English text and its French translation. If the translation is to go on a leaflet where space is limited, the text, the formatting or size of the paper may need to be adapted. If needed, translators will work in partnership with DTP professionnals.
eg.1. translation of a user guide. Illustrations may need to be localized as well as the text itself. In a user guide for a car, a picture of a woman sitting in the driver's seat may not be appropriate for the target public in a country where women are not allowed to drive!
eg. 2. translation of a sales document.Sentence in a sales letter (to be sent to teachers) to be translated into Norwegian: “Order now, because September is not too far away”. The implication is that by ordering now, the product will arrive in time for the start of the school year. Fine—except the school year starts in August in Norway! The translation needs to reflect this AND the sales strategies may need to be adapted as well!
a reduction in cost of translation for the client.
more consistency and therefore a better quality.
Rustin Gibbs (Moravia Worldwide) compares technology in translation with the technology used by barbers. Technology is great to style hair, but styling using technology requires a stylist and hair. In the same way, machine translation requires a translator and data.
We are in a time when new gadgets and tools are constantly being developped. We have all heard of Google translation and the likes : "translates" in a click, free to use, too good to be true!
Translation is a complex process and doesn't happen in a click and it never will!
In October 2000, the Wall Street Journal gave two free online automatic translation services a test run and concluded:
“ These services are passable for travelers or for those wanting to translate a letter from a distant cousin. I definitely wouldn’t use them for business or anything that remotely requires accuracy .”