Translation deals with written content and it is important to write effectively with translation in mind. It is an ideal situation and while it is a vital issue, translators cannot control how the original source is written.
Translation work requires quality and achieving it depends on the source text. Therefore, if you are preparing materials for translation, it is important to keep in mind that there are specific rules to follow. Properly communicating an author’s ideas in any language is the goal of translation.
Translators are not always to blame for translation failure. You have to remember that translation only imitates the way the source text was written. Most of the errors in the source text could be prevented if the content writer knows who will be reading or using the work. It is not always possible, but if the client is commissioning fresh content, it is a great idea for the content writer and the translator to coordinate from the start.
In today’s environment, it is all right to assume that most products are to be made available globally. Due to this fact, it is important that content for the products should also be prepared for the global market. Translators would have a fairly good idea on what constitute quality content that is easier to translate.
So if someone is preparing fresh content, what are the guidelines in creating good source text and write effectively in order to have quality translation?
Issues with advertising copy
Marketing consumer products is often supported by advertising. Advertising agencies have copywriters who are tasked to carefully construct and write effectively advertising copy to catch the attention of consumers, persuade them to listen or read further and urge them to take action and make a purchase.
Copywriters often come up with a powerful message using only a few words. Some use colloquialisms while others conceive creative taglines. The latter usually create difficulties for translators, as they often do not mean the same thing in different languages when using a phrase or a few words.
It could be as simple as the ”Just Do It” slogan of Nike. But translators have a difficult time translating it into other languages. Due to this, it prompted the company to have the tagline left as is instead of ending with something confusing or difficult to understand or worse, mistranslated.
If using local slang or colloquialisms is necessary, it is better to add footnotes so that translators can fully comprehend the intent of the phrase. Doing this provides the translator the chance to write effectively and successfully recreate the phrase in the target language. The same guideline applies when using humor if it is required to add more color to the copy.
Copywriters employ creative license when they write advertising copy. They do not often use standard or neutral language, which is why it is difficult to create relevant translation of them across multiple languages. Otherwise, the copy loses its intimacy with the consumers of the product.
The same is true if one were to write effectively for the web. A company’s website is the most accessible tool to engage consumers. The homepage needs clever and creative copy in order to catch the attention of visitors and make them stay and read more of what you have to say. However, there are also types of content that should be written in such a way that it would be easier to translate rather than recreate, which is web copy. This includes the rest of the website’s pages, like the interface for the product’s copy, video subtitles, user guides and other information. To write effectively the content for these pages, it is better to avoid including jargons and expressions that are only understood by a specific cultural group.
Write effectively for for translation
It does not happen often that a person can quickly figure out some ideas that are actually easy to understand in other languages. It’s another reason why it is advisable for companies to have their localization partner involved in the process from the beginning.
Therefore, aside from following the standard rules of English grammar, here are the specific guidelines to write effectively the source content that would perfectly suit the translation requirements – across multiple languages.
1. Use short sentences
Writing short sentences makes the narrative easier to comprehend. It reduces the incidence of creating errors. With shorter sentences, it is easier for translators to fit the smaller text segments. In this way, the translator will have an easier time stringing the smaller texts in different ways to ensure that the flow of the sentences in the target language appears more natural.
2. Mind the grammar and punctuation
Content writers should make it a standard practice to proofread their own work. Doing so prevents errors from being mirrored in the translation. It avoids chances of misunderstanding the content and its intent. Submitting edited and proofread work means that the translation will be of high quality.
3. Make room for the expansion of text
Some words in English become longer when translated in other languages and others need more words. In writing copy for something that has limited space, writers should allow for more space to accommodate text expansion during translation. It could mean cutting sentences or using a bigger text box than needed by the English text, especially if you are creating software, PDFs and graphics.
4. Ensure clarity
If things are not written clearly in the source language, it is possible that they are not also readily apparent to the translator. Thus, it is important to make clarity a priority. See to it that you use pronouns clearly and include relative pronouns such as ”which” and ”that” even if it is possible to omit them in English. Using or adding articles is also important, as other languages require their inclusion.
In some cases, the writer may have to reiterate verbs that have several subjects, repeat markers in a series or list, iterate verbs and subjects and repeat helping verbs accompanying several verbs.
5. Consistency is important
When using expressions and technical terms, ensure that you use them consistently. This guide especially applies when writing repetitive content and product descriptions. It is all right to use specific blocks of content repeatedly. The increase in text repetitions reduces the cost of translation. When you write content only for a single language, it is quite good to use synonyms and other variations. However, when the content is intended for translation, it is better to write the same things each time as the translation cost will drop considerably while you improve the content’s clarity.
6. Avoid clichés, regional phrases, metaphors, humor and slang
The items above are good if the content is to be used by one culture alone, as consumers of the content are familiar with them. However, when writing for translation, it is better to avoid using them. For one thing, they are a nightmare to translate in different languages. Another reason is that their meaning may not mean anything to other audiences or they could only lead to misunderstanding. In some cases, they cannot be directly translated and would require lengthy explanations to be fully understood.
7. Consider international dates
See to it that you are thinking of the intended audiences when you are writing dates. If you are used to the American date format, it is important to be very clear about the dates. It is better to spell out the month instead of using numbers. For example, instead of writing 7/18, write July 18 or the 18th of July, to avoid confusing international readers.
8. Use the active voice
Write effectively by using the active voice. It makes the work easier for translators. The passive voice is more difficult to translate in other languages. The active voice also uses less words, which means that the price of the translation would be lower.
9. Refrain from using phrasal verbs
Phrasal verbs are difficult to translate. They usually have several meanings. Likewise, it is considered informal when you use phrasal verbs. For example, instead of using ”show up” it is better to use ”arrive” or ”reverse” rather than ”back up” or equal instead of ”add up.” Keep in mind that in some languages, phrasal verbs are non-existent.
10. Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations
Names of corporations and organizations translate differently and the word order may differ. Therefore it is best to write the name of the organization in full instead.
11. Include formal forms of address or personal background information
Content writers should consider that in other languages, names of persons might be used interchangeably by a male or female, such as in Japanese and Korean names. Thus it is important to add Mr./Mrs./Ms. to clarify a person’s gender.
Content for Translation
Translated content that can be available in other language comes from a source text. Thus its quality affects the quality of the translation. To write effectively, plan writing your content for translation by using simple and direct sentences in order to promote better understanding and ease in translation. It benefits the client by reducing the cost of translation and accelerates time-to-market. It also benefits the translator because they have a faster time translating the content, thereby being paid quicker.
Whatever style of writing is used on your source content, you are assured that the human translators of Day Translations, Inc. will create a 100% accurate version in the target language. Our translators who are located around the world are all native speakers and are professional translators with years of experience behind them. They are knowledgeable in all aspects of document translation and adept at inputting the cultural and linguistic nuances inherent in any local language. Contact us by phone at 1-800-969-6853 or send us an email at Contact us. We are open 24/7 all-year round so you can reach us at your convenience.
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