Cleanup Time!

Over the years, the most consistent observation new and potential clients have voiced to me is how intimidating the translation arena can be to enter for the first time.  To most, the benefits of localizing their content is clear.  Who can question the advantages of broadening the potential audience for a product or service?  A much more challenging question for a company considering translation, however, is what steps it itself can take to maintain control of its content throughout the process.

In fact, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that a client knows its sensitive materials are handled in compliance with their own preferences.  And it’s the responsibility of ABLE and other localization vendors to provide straightforward advice on how this can be done.

Before going ahead, it’s important to consider the highly subjective nature of translation.  There are often two, or three, or five different ways to correctly say an English term or expression in another language.  Making sure a linguist is saying something precisely the way a client wishes can be challenging.  After all, how can even the most skilled professional know how you’d say something in a language you can’t speak?  And while a comprehensive body of reference materials – a glossary, a style guide, client-reviewed materials in the target language, and similar resources – can be helpful, there are less obvious steps that can be taken during the English-content creation stage that will make a tremendous difference in a multilingual end-product.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the clarity of the source content.  This doesn’t just include general precision around the ideas the author is trying to express.  It also includes the basic grammatical makeup of each sentence.  We encourage our clients to prepare content for translation by ensuring that English syntax is correct; that concepts are clear; and that as much as possible, wording is literal.  “Muddy” ideas or phrasing force a linguist to use more personal judgment; and personal judgment is usually where disagreements over subjective text occur.  Even the best translator, once familiarized with a client’s general preferences, will occasionally make choices that don’t perfectly voice the author’s intended message when forced to make judgment calls.

In addition to yielding a translation that’s better tuned to a client’s preferences, a clean, clearly worded source can also increase consistency between target languages.  Multilingual vendors like ABLE have the responsibility of ensuring that messaging  doesn’t deviate between different language markets. Indeed, it’s one of the primary reasons a company considering localization would choose a turn-key solution versus multiple single-language vendors.

Finally, conceptually and grammatically straightforward text maximizes the utility of our Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools by allowing us leverage the most text possible during translation.  Clear text maximizes Translation Memory matches, which can have a substantive impact on every measure of a project’s success – from pricing, to turnaround, to quality.  And the impact will be ever more visible as cutting-edge tools like Machine Translation mature and become viable solutions for even the trickiest content.

If you have any questions about optimizing your source text for translation, feel free to reach out to ABLE.  Our team of localization experts have years of experience assisting clients in this area.



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