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Barbara Jungwirth shares how to prepare text for translation

Barbara Jungwirth

The STC New York Metro chapter was pleased to host Barbara Jungwirth, the owner of reliable translations, llc,  who touched on how to prepare content to assist translators, including factors that contribute to the effective translation of text, images, and tables, in her hour-long presentation on March 15, 2016.

Jungwirth, also the Second Vice President and Membership Chairperson of the Chapter, stated that the client or the internal translation department needs to determine what level of translation is needed. Your first question should be, at what preciseness and quality should the translation be completed?

  • Is the translation output for internal purposes only, or will the output of the translation be disseminated to third parties?
  • Is the translation “for information” or “for publication”?

The higher the preciseness and quality, the more expensive the translation will be, as multiple translators may need to be involved, and more validation between the client and translation company may need to occur.

Jungwirth mentioned that the source language – the language that the document is written in – can consist of a single language or multiple languages, which may also result in multiple translators being needed. In addition, the quality of the translation can directly affect how the information is interpreted by the users who are reading it. Last, localization – the act of tailoring the product or translation to the target user’s needs and understanding – is different than internationalization, where the company utilizes minimal local meaning in the translation, thus asking the user to accept source document meanings in an effort to internationalize content.

Audience, vocabulary, and writing style

Audiences can consist of different cultures even within the same country, different educational levels, and different familiarity with the product. Jungwirth stressed that when considering vocabulary choices, the source document should utilize consistent terminology, standard spelling, and usage.

Concerning writing style:

  • Use pronouns, but leave in syntactic cues.
  • Either spell out acronyms, or provide a glossary of terms. A translator without such a glossary of acronyms will take it upon him or herself to find the answer, and may translate acronyms inappropriately.
  • Dates, times, and measurement formats are factors that need to be addressed.
  • Refrain from translating from a target language to another target language. Always translate from the source language to a target language to avoid localized interpretive phases that may have entered the original translated output which will translate poorly into the target translated output.

Helping your translator and yourself

Steps you can take to ease translation, are:

  • Use the most common word consistently
  • Don’t use the same term to mean different things
  • Eliminate non-essential information
  • Write concisely
  • Group the information by function/audience (i.e. manager vs. employee, expert vs novice)
  • Provide supplemental information
  • Include text to explain the components of graphics or tables

Many translators use automated translation tools in the initial translation phases. Microsoft Excel files containing terms can be loaded into these tools. Personal Data Files (.pdf) cannot be loaded into these tools, so information needs to be manually typed into these tools, adding time and cost. If your source content is highly technical, ask the translation firm or individual if they have expertise in highly technical matters such as engineering, environmental, or industries with specialized terminology.

Following these suggestions will ensure that the costs of translation can be minimized and that content will be consistent with the original meaning.