Translation Issues: Avoiding the Most Common Challenges

As soon as you have decided that you need a translation, you need to decide on the type of service you need and schedule the translation. As you now know, an accurate and localized translation takes time. Don’t wait until the last moment to seek out translation services. If you do, you will either end up paying rush fees or selecting a service level that is less than desirable.

To assist your translation service in providing you with the best possible product and avoid several common challenges, consider the following:

  • Do you have all your documentation in order? You would be surprised at how many translation projects are turned over to translation service providers without original documentation. If forms, PDFs, brochures, or other graphics are included in the translation, ensure the electronic source files are included so your translators do not need to recreate the entire document from scratch.
  • Are you turning in the proper version of your documents? Many documents and files have been created over time, and there are multiple versions floating around. Ensure you are turning in the correct versions of all source files.
  • Have you proofread and edited your document to ensure it represents the exact language and format you want translated? While your translator is likely an expert in the source language and can make suggestions to improve your document if there are language problems, this will take more time and cost more money. Other translation services will translate exactly what you provide them, right or wrong, and you will have to translate a second version if you notice errors down the road.
  • Do you have your reference documents? If you are using references in your project, it can be helpful to have copies of these references for the translator. Many times there are cultural differences in the way works are cited, names are referenced, or there might be terminological research required. When documents and sources are available for the translator, it saves time and money.
  • Do you have a glossary of specialized terms? In order to update the termbase and translation memory, it helps to have a list of terms and phrases that might be particular to your paper. This can include field-specific or business-specific terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations. Your translation service will have a number of tools that can help them in this process, but the more you have done up front, the more time and money can be saved. Further, specialized term glossaries help avoid possible confusion and inaccurate translations.
  • Have you prepared a translation guide? A translation guide is an example of what you are looking for as far as style, format, localization efforts, and so forth. When your translators know specifically how you want things to look, sound, and come across (voice, formality, etc) it saves countless amounts of time and money.

In addition to the suggestions listed above, you will want to consider the following:

  • Document internationalization. When figurative language is used, it can lead to confusion in the target language if not transcreated properly. The process of internationalization prepares your document to be translated into several different target languages by removing specific cultural or colloquial language.
  • Document localization. Does your document address the specific needs of a target audience or is it more generic. Harry Potter was written from a British point-of-view and no attempt was made to localize it for the American people. The intent was for the book to “feel” British. You need to decide if your information needs to be presented as if a native speaker wrote it just for that particular audience (localization) or if a more general translation is okay. For example, do you need to localize your content for Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, and so forth, or is a generic Castillian Spanish translation sufficient?

When you have taken the time to think about your intended audience, the level of translation services required, and have prepared and gathered all necessary documents, your translation services experience can be smooth, productive, and successful.

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