German Technical Translation: Take Germany’s Drive For Innovation Global

Germany is a world leader in the machinery, automotive, and technology industries. Known for their quality and precision, German technologies and machinery are still among the most exported in the world.1 So, the need for high-level technical translation services is also in high demand.

What does the market look like right now? How should these technical translations be managed? And which services are appropriate to request for German Technical Translation? Find out!

A Look At The Market For German Technical Translation 

German is widely spoken within the European Union, with around 95 million native speakers. While German is a notable language within the business world and can also boast a spot within the top 10 languages on the internet,2 thanks to Germany’s technological advances, it is also known as a language of science and innovation. What does this really mean? Let’s look at some numbers and facts!

  • According to Research Germany, Germany holds third position among the world leaders in machinery and plant engineering, representing 11% of the global machine production.3
  • The same research shows that the 20,000 mechanical engineering companies hold an export surplus of 17%, an export quota of 79%, and an import quota of 62%.
  • The report continues to state that in the sectors of electronics, power generation, automotive, aerospace, and tools, automation and digitalization are high on the priority list.
  • According to Germany Trade & Invest, Germany’s automotive industry is paving the way for global electric mobility solutions.4
  • Centurion Plus has deduced that in 2019, Germany’s automotive industry generated over €435 billion in sales, which amounts to 20% of the country’s total revenue, making it the largest in the country.5

When it comes to the technical, automotive, and machinery industries, technical translations can encompass various content types, including:

  • Multilingual design stages: in the process of designing machinery, CAD designs are commonly created. Design teams often consist of subject-matter experts with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, which can lead to communication problems. In this case, interpreting services could be required.
  • Legal Documents: from design to release, a large number of legal documents will need to pass through the hands of multiple individuals, such as contract translation and patent translation. Learn more about legal document translation in our blog: Multilingual Legal Translation: This Is How Full Accuracy Is Ensured
  • Safety Standards: Technologies, tools, and equipment will need to adhere to strict safety regulations. But the drafting process itself will also need to follow specific rules to be completely legal.

For example, the safety of machinery will need to be drafted according to the ISO 13.110 regulations which include guidelines for drafting and presentation of safety standards, requirements for integrated manufacturing systems, and so on.6 For use outside of Germany, these standards will also need to be maintained meticulously in every language spoken natively in the country the machinery will be exported to.

  • Manufacturing processes and guidelines: in some cases, a vehicle, for example, will be designed in one country but manufactured in another. In this case, clear and straightforward manufacturing processes will need to be provided in the intended language so quality and accuracy can be maintained.
  • Marketing materials: when it comes to your sales, you will also need marketing materials uniquely designed for each market you plan on expanding into, outside of Germany.

What Do Quality Technical Translations Involve?

Technical translations refer to the translation of content that is scientific and technical in nature. As a highly specialized form of translation, only linguists highly specialized in the sector at hand can produce a successful translation that meets all demands. Since technical language should leave no room for ambiguity, clarity, consistency, and accuracy should determine the translation quality. Especially since any type of error could lead to safety or even legal issues.

German Translation Challenges

Yes, technical translations in themselves are quite a head-scratcher, and the German language doesn’t make it any easier. When translating from certain languages into German, but also when translating German into other languages, the complexity of the language won’t be making it easy for you. In fact, you can expect to encounter linguistic, cultural, and technical roadblocks along the way.

  • Linguistically speaking, the German language is structured in a rather challenging way with elaborate compound words and noun genders that won’t always find straightforward translations in other languages. Additionally, you can’t simply assign any German-speaking professional to your project. Depending on which German region you are translating from or into, the German dialects won’t always be mutually intelligible. Swiss German, for example, can be vastly different from the German spoken in Germany, Austria, or Belgium.
  • The German language’s complex structure also leads to a technical challenge, namely that of text expansion. German can take up to 35% more space than English, for example, so this needs to be taken into account during the formatting.
  • Finding the right talent for certain languages that are generating more demand than resources is a challenge on its own, and translating from German into Asian languages, rare languages, African languages, or Middle Eastern languages such as Farsi could prove tricky. Even when it comes to finding appropriate MT-Engines, should the need arise, certain language pairs won’t make it an easy quest. In this case, bridge translations may be needed.
    A bridge translation will first translate the German text into English, after which the English content will be translated into the more obscure or complex script. Of course, for this to be successful, you will need to connect with qualified professionals to make this happen correctly and efficiently. More on this below!
  • And we mustn’t forget about the cultural challenges. As we said, different regions have different dialects, and so they will favor different expressions and understand different forms of technical terminology. Of course, this doesn’t only apply to the German language, but to many other languages including Arabic and Spanish, for example, where different territories and countries have yielded different variations of the same language.

Top Strategies That Will Get You Quality Technical German Translations

In order to overcome challenges tied to technical translations specifically as well as to the languages, it is paramount that you understand the top strategies that will ensure quality delivery. Here are our top recommendations!

  • Make sure you connect with a reliable Language Service Provider (LSP) and avoid connecting with freelance contributors. Why? An LSP will have a team set up that will meet all the technical, linguistic, and cultural requirements tied to your projects. Next to that, they will also have a streamlined localization workflow in place!
  • In order to maintain strict objectivity, a standardized TranslationEditing, and Proofreading Process (TEP) with rigorous Quality Control applied every step of the way is implemented. This translation process is made tractable and manageable with the use of Translation (CAT) Tools and a Translation Management System (TMS). Here, linguists, localization engineers, and project managers can work together seamlessly and implement a high level of Quality Assurance (QA) that weeds out any inaccuracies.
  • And LSP will also provide native linguists with subject-matter expertise and experience in your specific industry. They will also have a full understanding of the market you are aiming to expand into.
  • Additionally, a qualified LSP will leverage optimized resources and tools including style guides, glossaries to confirm correct terminology, and a translation memory to make sure translations remain consistent and previously translated terms will be saved so that future translations will be more cost-effective.

Pro Tip! Read about the ins and outs of Technical Translation in our blog: Technical Translations: Your Ultimate Guide To The Best Practices

Machine Translation And Technical Content 

At Laoret, we recently managed several Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE) projects in the German technical, automotive, and machinery industries. These involved, among others, German-Italian, German-French, German-Spanish, and German-Dutch, and German-Russian translations. So, we thought it would be fitting if we added a few words about how these industries work together with MT and MTPE.

First of all, what is MTPE? MTPE subjects the raw MT output with human revision and editing. Since we just touched upon the demand for accurate and consistent translations in the technical industry, it is probably already clear that a simple MT will not be enough since it can leave you with a myriad of errors and ambiguities. However, since technical documentation can often have a very high word count and turnaround times can be pretty steep, MT in combination with the human touch can prove useful.

For technical content, we highly recommend Full Post Editing if MTPE is the service you choose. That being said, make sure you understand that even MTPE won’t work for every content type. While it can be useful for user manuals and manufacturing processes, we suggest that you go for 100% human translation for any legal documents and marketing materials since they require more attention to detail and a higher level of accuracy (and localization in case of marketing content). If you go for MTPE for your marketing materials, for example, the post-editor will need to make so many tweaks to make cultural and colloquial expressions work, that a direct human translation could actually be a lot more efficient.

Pro Tip! Want to learn more about Light Post Editing and Full Posit Editing? Check out our blog: Light Post-Editing Or Full Post-Editing: Which Way To Go?


German technical translation is a demanding industry that holds a whole lot of responsibility, but also a lot of possibilities. If the translations are delivered by native, in-county experts with specialized experience in technical translation, accuracy and consistency can be maintained.

At Laoret, we are committed to delivering professional technical translation services through our expansive network of native, in-country linguists with fully honed translation skills. Each one of our linguists will be carefully selected based on their technical translation expertise, as well as authority in the translation industry. We are consistently striving for innovation through our use of the most advanced tools on the market, and we only work together with professionals who can leverage these tools most effectively. Get in touch! We remain available 24/7.

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