Accuracy and readability are two curtail factors for high quality translation. Accuracy comes first than any other criteria! That is easy to understand. Poor translation that is just lack of readability but correct (e.g. “请按一下我的萤幕底部的左手边的那个红色的按钮” for “please click the red button on the left hand corner of my monitor” may just lead to customer complaint for word for word translation, but wrong translation (e.g. “本研究可能包括最多 60 次的研究门诊以及至少一次的跟进电话访谈，这将根据您何时完成研究而定。” for “It may include up to 63 study visits and at least one follow-up in-person visit or telephone call, depending on when your participation ends.”) may result in much more negative outcomes, such as big financial loss, reputation deterioration, and even loss of life. In view of that, it is very important to make sure your translation is accurate, i.e. “faithfulness”.
How to improve accuracy? Firstly you should correctly grasp the meaning of the source text, and then correctly render the meaning in the target language with any wrong or missing translation. Accurate translation entails a good grasp of source language and target language as well as a wide knowledge retaining to the specific industry. So that is why we always choose right person for right task.
Besides making you yourself become an industry-specific expert, you may depend on the following methods to improve the accuracy of your translation.
1) Resort to Search Engine such as Google
For something you are not familiar with especially for mechanical part or component, you can use Google for its definition and even its image to help you to understand the source text.
2) Translate the article not the sentence.
Please bear it in mind you are translating an article not a sentence, so please always look at the context to grasp the accurate meaning.
3) Be careful to fuzzy translation
Now the most of translators use the CAT tools (such as Trados, Catalyst, Idiom, etc.) to do the translation in a translation memory environment. Translation memory is a database that is designed to store your previous translations so as to ensure consistent translation, accelerate the overall translation process, and save the cost. Unfortunately, many translators are not careful enough for fuzzy translation and easy to ignore the difference between the new source text and the old source text stored in TM.
Old source text: The camera captures a series of up to 6 images while the shutter-release button is held all the way down, and the sharpest image in the series is automatically selected and saved.
Old translation: 完全按下快門釋放按鍵時，相機將拍攝一系列影像（最多 6 張），並且會自動選擇並儲存該系列影像中最清晰的影像
New source text: The camera captures a series of up to 6 pictures while the shutter-release button is held all the way down, and the sharpest picture in the series is automatically selected and saved.
The different between the old source text and new source text is that only “image” (two occurrences) has been changed to “picture”. Without enough carefulness, we may miss to change one or both of them.
4) Double check numbers (including but not limited to financial figures and telephone number).
When translating, we may focus on the syntax and meaning of the translation and easily ignore numbers that not need to be translated but easily typed wrongly.
Source: The maximum number of pages that can be send a one time is 999.
Translation: 一次做多可以发送 99 页。
The translation is correct expect the number, but it is a critical error.
5) Pay double attention to those easily mixed words.
Here are some examples for easily mixed words:
6) Double check the country name, address, person name, etc. that are very important but easily ignored.
The above points are just my advices and I hope they are useful for you. Nevertheless as a translator, rendering correct translation is our duty.