Where Do We Obtain Reference Materials for Translations?

Translators must sometimes undertake very specific translations focused on a very technical subject that is of critical importance to a client. In these cases, we must take into account that this client is entrusting us with something that could be crucial to their business or personal life. For example, sometimes we receive manuals for factory machinery or legal certificates of certain personal documents or papers. In these types of documents, not only is concentration on the part of the translator important, but in addition, he or she must be careful when choosing reference materials to use for the project.

In the case of a technical manual, for example, the translator will not always know what it is talking about, nor be aware of the names of certain parts or elements used in a particular industry.

In these cases, translators have the option of referring to specialized websites (they can go to the website of the same company that the translation is for, or to websites of companies providing the same service) and take full confidence in official dictionaries and technical glossaries that have been approved by professionals in the area. If this is not done, then the translation we deliver to the client could wreak havoc if it reaches the public with an incorrect use of terminology.

It is very difficult for the translator to know what is being talked about when he or she is translating an unfamiliar topic. This is why it is necessary, before beginning the project, to take the time to immerse oneself in the topic: read, watch videos, search for glossaries, and consult with other colleagues who may be able to provide additional information.

It may also be helpful to ask the client to provide any reference material they have available; this gives us an idea of how to use certain structures or words in the document we are creating. Often times, in the case of technical manuals, illustrative diagrams can also be helpful.

In general, one can find several possible translations for the same term, and it may be difficult to decide which one is correct. The differences, for example, can vary depending on how formal the word is, the style, the industry in which that specific term is used, etc. In these cases, the best option would be to check with a glossary or a specialized term base for information regarding which term is correct for our technical translation.

In this way, we ensure that the client receives a translation that has been perfectly adapted to the target language, thereby avoiding complaints or future change. Before starting a project, then, it is advisable to try to collect as much reference material from the client as possible in order to ensure a translation of the utmost quality.