If you’ve been reading my recent blog posts about automotive translations you’ll know that I often talk about the importance of using a specialist translator for these types of projects. Not just someone with translation qualifications and expertise, but a linguist who also has specific automotive experience.
Anyone who works in this industry will know that it’s a sector that uses very technical terminology, which often needs to explain and communicate complicated processes and concepts, and also uses extremely compelling messages to sell high value products. That’s why it’s so important to use specialist automotive translators with an in depth understanding of the industry. A linguist without this experience and knowledge will struggle to translate your content effectively.
How we hand pick our automotive translation team
Comtec work with a number of companies in the automotive industry – Aston Martin, Jaguar, Delphi, Tool Connection, amongst others – and we hand pick translators for each project. Our criteria for choosing an automotive translation team is to source people with the following key qualities:
Practical experience in the automotive industry – for example a previous role working for an automotive company
Excellent linguistic skills – we only work with linguists translating into their native language with a relevant qualification and extensive experience.
Specialist translation experience – if a technical document needs translating, we only assign a translator with technical automotive translation experience. If it’s marketing or advertising content, they not only need to have practical automotive experience, but also skills in marketing translations too
I thought it would be interesting to talk to one of our translators, Karen Luehning, and ask her a few questions about automotive translations. Karen translates English into German for our clients, as well as Japanese into German when required. Her background and experience is a good example of the quality of translators we use, and why it’s important to have a specialist automotive translator on your side.
Q: Could you tell me a little about your background?
Karen Luehning: After studying Modern Languages and Business at university I joined a Japanese automotive company as a project manager, mainly dealing with the German contacts. While at university I had also completed an internship with an automotive supplier and was interested in this industry and working for international automotive businesses.
My experience at this company gave me a good understanding of the processes that are unique to the industry, as well as technical terms and concepts. As part of my job, I was often asked by the British team (the company was based in Wales) to translate documents into German.
I really enjoyed this translation work, so with my interest in languages and international business I decided to become a translator.
Q: What kind of translation work did you first get asked for?
KL: Initially I focused on technical automotive translations. With my understanding of the industry and terminology I got assignments to translate various technical documents and content from English into German.
Some of my automotive clients began to ask for marketing translations and I started to get experience in this area too. As I got more experience working for automotive clients, I was able to offer both technical and marketing translations.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to have practical experience in the industry to produce successful automotive translations?
KL: Without having worked in the automotive industry I wouldn’t understand the tone used by people and so the translations wouldn’t reflect this properly. There is a particular tone used within the industry, and a different tone for marketing content for customers.
I also think it’s important to have a practical background so you understand different concepts. Even if it’s a new concept that I haven’t come across before, I can use my automotive knowledge to ask the question “does the translation make sense?” It means I can make sure that translations do make sense when a concept is new to me.
Q: What advice would you give automotive clients to help ensure their translation projects are successful?
KL: Firstly, they need to be clear about what they expect and want from their translations. Who will read it? What do they want to achieve?
Then they should provide their translation team with resources to help them align the translation with the company style. Examples of other successful translations are also helpful so that translators can understand the brand identity and company style.
Background information about particular concepts is very useful, so the translator gets a good understanding of the subject. Also, if the company already has a glossary of approved translations for technical or company specific terminology, this will help speed up the translation process.
Finally, collaboration is really important. If the translator has a question it doesn’t mean they’re not competent, it means you will get a more successful translation! Also, working with the same team in the long term will make your translations better, and faster, as everyone understands the company and market better.
Q: Finally, what do you love about your job?
KL: I love dealing with languages all day, everyday. The translation experience is very satisfying: the feeling of getting into the flow of a translation project, the variety of work, learning new things and the satisfaction from a successfully completed project.
Translators like Karen are what make Comtec the perfect translation partner for the automotive industry. We’re committed to helping our clients in this industry fulfil their global strategies by providing high quality, expert automotive translations. If you would like to find out more, please contact our team.
Comtec will be at the RACE TECH World Motorsport Symposium at the end of this month. If you’re planning to visit, I would love to meet you. Either visit our stand or if you would prefer to arrange a meeting during the event you can contact me on +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As an official sponsor of the World Motorsport Symposium we can offer our associates a discount on tickets to this event. Details can be found here.