Guest Post: Translating Your Content

This month, TCANZ is fortunate to have two guest posts from Katy Amkreutz of  Straker Translations in Auckland. This is the first of two posts to help TCANZ members who need to work on having materials translated and localised.

Working for a high-tech translation company I have witnessed many multilingual projects and thought I would put together some insider tips for technical communicators managing translation projects.

Don’t just translate, localise

Localisation is translation to reflect a specific region, changing dollars to pounds or weights and measures from metric to imperial. Often there are preferable regional or universal terms for the target audience based on regions. Most languages do have regional differences, so make sure that the agency knows the specific location of your audience. Not all Arabic, for example, is the same. Arabic spoken in the Gulf is vastly different to Arabic spoken in North Africa. Spanish is particularly sensitive to regional differences amongst Spain, Middle and South American countries.

No translation is ever better than the original content.

Providing a final, completed, and proofed text, approved by all stakeholders gives a project the best chance of success. There is nothing worse than realizing that halfway through a project your boss has changed their mind about a section or the layout no longer fits. It can mean you lose continuity if the original translator is no longer available. Applying changes is fiddly, takes time and of course costs money.

The information you ask for is key to being confident in the end result.

Often clients do not ask for what they need but the truth of the matter is the more given, the better the outcome, often at no extra cost to you for:

  • dtp services
  • localisation
  • translator tools
  • file type matching
  • parsers

Ask for a translator with background knowledge in the topic. If your content is for an engineering firm, ask for a translator who used to be an engineer, has a science degree or specializes in translating for that particular sector. Most translators have been something else in a former life – incredibly, we have translators on our books that specialize in translating Computational Linguistics content into Bulgarian!

Always use a glossary

This is information the translator can use when approaching your text to get as close as possible to the original content. Glossary terms include words or phrases from the content that should be reserved or have a specific translation. The agency can help to create one to be approved before you start. These words are usually:

  • place names
  • character names
  • product names
  • slogans
  • abbreviations
  • acronyms
  • job or academic titles
  • industry colloquialisms

Use a translator who is a native speaker in the target language

Using a translator native in the target language, not the language of the original text results in a higher quality translation, with better flow and is easier on the reader.

Get a Review

Reviews are cheap, cheap, cheap and super quick and they can save you a lot of heartache. A second translator goes over the translated text against the original and marks up any suggested changes, typos, grammar tweaks, errant strings or layout issues. Easy – yes, necessary – always.

Shop around

Find someone who will offer you a good price but also have the resources at hand to meet your needs. Having a translation provider who offers you a project manager is an added bonus.

Thank you to our guest blogger – we will have a second post on this topic next week.

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