Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Technical writing tips: how to accurately transmit information

Guest post by Rebekka Wellmanns

Technical writing consists of transmitting technical information accurately to a technical or non-technical audience. In last week's webinar, Karen Tkaczyk, herself an experienced technical translator, provided some very useful writing tips for ‘into English’ translators in this field.

Technical translators need to have good instincts, subject matter expertise and writing skills to convey terminology in the correct manner. They also need to be precise, clear and brief to produce effective technical texts.

Karen provided some excellent practical examples in French to better highlight the dos and don’ts of technical translation. For example:

A technical translator should:
  • use strong action verbs
  • write economically
  • use the active voice
  • write in plain English

but avoid:
  • wordiness
  • needless words, such as ‘of’

Here are some of the problems ‘into English’ technical translators may encounter:
  • Ambiguity - although you may have to translate a phrase ambiguously depending on the type of technical text.
  • Every source language has different problems which can carry over into English, e.g. noun-heavy texts, implied subjects, lack of strong verbs, etc.
  • Lack of ownership on the part of the translator. You may need to defend your decisions and be the expert.

There are many style guides on the market to educate translators and help us develop our own style of technical writing in English. Karen concluded the webinar with an extensive list of these valuable resources.

Access this webinar and the handout on our website. Originally broadcast: 17 November 2011. Duration: 66 minutes, including question and answer session.

Our guest author is Rebekka Wellmanns, a Spanish to English translator with a background in music, linguistics and education. She is also the author of a widely-read translation blog, and tweets at @WellRebekka.

No comments:

Post a Comment