There’s more to translation than you might think. It’s not a matter of simply replacing one set of words with another in your target language. Here’s how to get inside the mind of an expert translator to ensure you approach every campaign with an international focus…
Translators understand the starting point
It sounds obvious, but failing to understand the source text is one of the main causes of poorly translated copy. Working with the words for weeks, or even months, might mean that the meaning of the source text is clear to you, but it might still be ambiguous to others. Remember that everything is open to interpretation, so come up with a brief that includes a lot of background information to fill in any potential knowledge gaps.
Take time to explain the intention behind the original copy and draw anything that must be retained in the translated copy to the translator’s attention immediately. In addition, make the target market explicitly clear so that a translator understands exactly who they are writing for. Always get your translated text checked by a proofreader or editor. Having a second professional linguist involved will ensure any misreading of the source text is eliminated.
Translators are masters of the target language
From aphorisms to idioms, proverbs to puns, translators know all the characteristics of the target language. That said, all translators have their own area of expertise and it’s important to tap into this wherever possible. Some excel at translating medical texts but would struggle to translate legal copy so that it reads with the same professional ease. Technical experts can translate complex documents but might do a clumsy job of translating a holiday website.
Beware the risk of assigning your copy to a translator at random – if they are not experts in your particular field, they might deliver a word-for-word translation or just convey the superficial meaning of the text.
Transcreation showcases a translator’s cultural insight
You wouldn’t translate a brochure in the same way you would translate a website, an email or a tagline. Each medium has its own tone of voice and needs the right level of translation to ensure it fit the target market.
If you’re looking to translate more creative content, you’ll need transcreation rather than translation. Transcreation refers to the localization of communications using the right consumer language and cultural input. It’s the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. Think of it like this: a good transcreation will evoke the same emotions in the target language as it does in the source language, and a great translator will have the cultural insight to make this possible.
To help a translator get to grips with a global campaign that needs to be localised, send a detailed brief that clarifies the meaning of complex source texts – explaining things like colloquial expressions, humour and double meanings. It’s also useful to share visual files so they can fully understand the message before they adapt it for their market.
Translators are committed to consistency
Global campaigns often comprise many components that need to be translated. A good translator will assure that consistency is maintained wherever possible – by recording regularly used words and phrases in a glossary and compiling a style guide that keeps track of correct spelling and capitalisations. For this reason, it makes sense to work with the same linguistic team for the duration of a project.
Of course, it’s inevitable that the number of words will vary when translating from one language to another. Luckily, you can design your assets to allow for differences and variations in character width and character line height. For instance, Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters, among others, are wider and longer in comparison to Latin ones. Keeping consistency front of mind, remember that translators can work to strict word counts depending on where the copy will appear. For example, search engines have very defined character restrictions.
Collaboration and effective communication are key
Keeping everyone in the loop, helping each other out, making sure the briefs are spot on… All of these elements help foster a happy team. Translators work closely with members of the linguistics team, local market team and project co-ordinators to ensure consistency, quality and a clear message across all components.
When co-ordinating a translation project, information goes backwards and forwards several times a day between the various people involved. If translators don’t keep the lines of communication open, the project is likely to falter on misunderstandings. Help translators to stay on path by providing a clear brief that outlines the aims and objectives of the project.
The importance of planning and processes
With any translation project it is vital to co-ordinate resources and predict costs, potential risks or changes in scope. Part of this process involves identifying the right translator for the projects and ensuring they understand the scopes of work and delivery deadlines.
All of these areas can be combined and efficiently managed when working with a global implementation agency, who’ll use the same processes and technology to handle translation services together with localisation and production.
If you need help with your localisation project or want to discuss how a global implementation agency could be the right solution for you, get in touch today.