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Reducing Translation Cost

Technical translators should be encouraged by the International Technical Communications Special Interest Group article Reducing Translation Costs.

In the end, we found that machine translation created more hassles than it fixed. It was hard to explain to upper management, but the concept that helped most was explaining that translators aren’t translating word for word, they’re translating thought for thought. They are essentially rewriting the manual.

The ITC SIG of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) publishes a Translation Kit as well a Localization Reader.


4 Responses to “Reducing Translation Cost”

  1. neil says:

    You’re not kidding and that’s befoe one takes into account that the original might have been written by an engineer or scientist and isn’t exactly “normal” language anyway. Actually, machine translation might work better when translating what German engineers write – but don’t tell anyone that.

  2. MW says:

    For years I had to translate into German technical documentation written in English by Japanese engineers. Quite often nobody had a clue what the text was about. “Take your best guess,” was the standard answer to my frequent inquiries. Who needs machine translation…

    BTW, that is the same STC that advocated in their newsletter to reduce translation costs by skipping the proofing stage for all 100 percent source text matches. Makes for interesting results in inflected languages.

  3. Scott Abel says:

    Any idea where I can find this article? Link appears broken.


    • Michael says:


      It happens quite often with older resources that they are removed from the Internet or relocated in such a way that it is almost impossible to find them again. The International TC SIG moved to a new website since I wrote my post, and they did not include an archive of older articles. This is as far as I got: Again, the link does not work, but if you are interested you could contact the SIG (contact info here: and ask if the article is still available somewhere. Sorry that I can’t be or more help.

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