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Avoiding common automotive translation blunders!

It is of perennial interest to talk about some common automotive translation mistakes which might demonstrate the potential pitfalls that some translators should avoid falling into when translating a technical automotive document from English to Arabic.

It is not enough to be passionate about cars to accurately translate highly sophisticated engineering or manufacturing processes from English into Arabic. In other words, many translators will face some challenges pertinent to the lack of good sources of terminology, especially there aren’t good English-Arabic dictionaries for automotive subjects, mechanical and electric engineering. Therefore, any translator will have to depend on his/her extensive knowledge and broad experience in this rare specialization, to deliver top-quality automotive translated materials.

Below you will find a shortlist of mistakes related to automotive terminologies you have to avoid to get better translation:

  1. Supercharger vs. Turbocharger

Every car savvy person on Earth knows the difference between superchargers and turbochargers. Being both forced induction systems, “the key difference between a turbocharger and a conventional supercharger is that a supercharger is mechanically driven by the engine, often through a belt connected to the crankshaft, whereas a turbocharger is powered by a turbine driven by the engine’s exhaust gas,” according to Wikipedia.

However, some translators are deliberately translating both terms as “شواحن هواء توربينية.” This Arabic term may be applied only to the turbochargers. On the other hand, superchargers should be translated as “شواحن مضاعفة”!

  1. Technical features

Some translators find it difficult to translate technical features that are introduced in the newly-debuted models. Features like Head-Up Display, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), and the like, are just kept as they are without being translated! This may be stemmed from the fact that the translator doesn’t know that much about the text/document he/she is translating. To exemplify, the translator has to know that there are two types of Head-Up Displays (HUD): A one that displays information directly on the windscreen, and another one that projects the display onto a glass combiner mounted above or below the windshield. The translator sometimes sees the two HUD units as just one. It is a big mistake if you are translating a press release!

The former type of HUD can be translating as “نظام عرض المعلومات منعكسة على الزجاج الأمامي.”

On the flip side, the latter HUD system can be translated as “نظام عرض المعلومات الحيوية منعكسة على سطح زجاجي قبالة السائق.”

  1. Chassis-related terms

Being an automotive journalist for almost 15 years, I may say that translating the chassis-related terms is but one example of the challenges that face translators in this specialization.  Car platform or as some may refer as vehicle architecture includes, technically-wise, the underbody, and suspensions with axles. Some translators like to literally translate it as “منصة بناء,” which is a very lame translation term and lacks the stylistic touch. Rather, I prefer to translate is as “بنية هيكلية”!

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