Translating poetry is arguably more difficult. The results are important and some will say they’re never quite as good as the original. But getting literary translations wrong is usually safe. Inaccurate technical document translations, on the other hand, can lead to serious accidents, fires, service disruptions and bigger, more dangerous situations.
And while nearly every cross border engineering or technical job requires some kinds of translations, many kinds of highly technical and common documents are available in translation, particularly along common borders where transactions are numerous. Medical equipment, and industrial machinery are powerful tools and they frequently get used, even the same equipment, by people of different languages and backgrounds. The need for precision in language in nuclear power, and all kinds of energy transmission projects is simply too important to be overstated.
Technical documentation supports implementation, engineering and construction in far too many fields to be listed here. As more of these kinds of projects get done by international and trans-border companies, the need for qualified and highly skilled translators just continues to increase.
One of the most important advances in the modern world has been the adoption of norms and standards. These standards have made tremendous advances in industry and technology possible. Unfortunately, too often when we cross an international border, many of those standards start to change. Standards have been a huge part of nearly every trade agreement signed in the past fifty years. And while we can say that standards, across borders, have grown closer to each other, that’s not always the case. Multiple languages and even cultural difference only exasperate the problem.
These are the industries for which professional document translation is the most important.
- Information and Technology Industries
You might think this means Internet websites and graphic design, but the systems that keep airplanes in the air and nuclear power plants cool and safe are all operating on secure and highly interactive systems. In many cases, the security alone is enough to warrant federal or independent agency oversight. That means standards and norms and technical documentation. It also means highly precise translations of some of the most technical, and the most important processes, systems and procedures. And much of this needs to be performed in highly secure settings.
- The medical and Pharmaceutical Industries
New solutions, medicines and procedures mean nothing if a life and death situation is met by inept translation. Fortunately, nearly everyone working in these industries is well aware of what’s on the line. But working across borders or cultures, and sometimes spending a small fortune for new life-saving equipment, brings promises and hope. Part of the promise is fully understanding the technical and medical standards associated with all of this “new”. Pharmaceutical and medical companies are still some of the biggest purchasers of technical document translation services.
- Finance and Banking
It’s not just technology here, though that’s an important part of it. Financial institutions are moving literally more money than some national economies. A technical failure can bring catastrophic consequences and even loss of life, livelihood or worse. Technical documentation follows transnational capital and often precedes the very first one-dollar trade.
- Energy Generation and Transmission
Lives absolutely depend on power and access to power. But of course, as energy demand grows, markets open up to international standards and different methods, tools and processes. These are often even installed and maintained by companies working outside of their home markets, not to mention their native languages and cultures. All of this demand is met by translating documents and matching up differing sizes, standards and procedures. Those need to be accurate to the nth decimal. We mentioned nuclear power above, and though it’s not necessarily a growth industry, the systems that support it still are changing and being improved and many of those improvements are also moving across borders.
Finally, this one might seem old school in our technological and services economies. But manufacturing is only possible because trade agreements have opened shops in markets where too many standards and regulations used to prevent factories from opening. They’re new factories, but the standards they build to now need to meet multiple market conditions and – again, norms and technical standards. All of those get translated into new languages and to meet local conditions. And the manufactured goods themselves need to be safe, compliant and use-able no matter the market they’re intended for.
For all of these industries, sounds and precise translations are going to continue to be, not only necessary, but part and parcel of the standards they represent. In many cases, and in many industries, sound and very accurate technical translations are available for sale or for licensed use. These are normally closely monitored and edited to meet the most exacting standards for technical translations, and as we’ve seen, nothing short of that is going to do.