Translation of technical texts – why is it considered difficult?

Translation of technical texts

The development of science and technology is only possible if scientists and engineers from different countries have access to up-to-date information. This requires high-quality translation of technical texts. These can be research data, scientific articles, monographs, conference proceedings, etc. Such translation involves many technical and linguistic subtleties. A mere knowledge of the foreign language is not sufficient. Therefore, it should be entrusted to professionals who have been working in the field for many years. For example, contact a translation agency that takes on this type of work.


These texts are usually written in an informative, unemotional and concise style. If they are scientific articles or monographs, the author may use certain techniques typical of a fictional text. But when translating technical texts into Russian, they usually are not retained, since the Russian academic environment has its own established grammatical norms. These include emotionlessness, a large number of passive and indefinite-personalisms, and a formal-logical style of delivery.

All types of translation are ordered for this field – full, abstract (in which only the most important fragments are highlighted), annotation (only theses are taken).


Even with extensive experience in this field, the translation of technical texts remains a complex process that requires not only knowledge of the foreign language but also

  • a mastery of the relevant terminology;
  • knowledge of technical documentation, reference books and other reliable sources
  • knowledge of the technical field to which a given material relates.

The best option is for the translator to have both linguistic and technical backgrounds.


Technical documents often contain graphical information. These include tables, charts, graphs and diagrams, illustrations etc. There are abbreviations and symbols used in blueprints, schemes and other infographics, which need to be adequately translated or adapted to Russian standards.

The terms in these documents are often borrowed. Some of them are of Latin and Greek origin, and in the field of information technology, there are many English-speaking terms that have no analogues in Russian. Translators may need to seek help from an expert in order to find the right terminology, e.g. tracing it back to its original language or transliterating it into Latin. The units of measurement can be equally problematic, as not all countries use the international system.

The structure of the document can also be problematic. For example, in a reference book or any other text, where everything is alphabetically arranged, the original structure is distorted when translated into another language. The translator needs to adapt it to its Russian counterpart (or vice versa – when translating from Russian into a foreign language).

Multiple meanings of terms, quotations, Latin expressions and idioms are other problems that translators have to deal with. The advantage of working with a translation company is that the work will be divided between several specialist translators and they will be able to consult each other in order to find a collective solution to the problem. This also allows the work to be completed within an agreed deadline.

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