A Few Words

Making the Most of In-Country Review

Posted by Agnieszka Ostrowska on Oct 8, 2015 10:47:00 AM

in-country-reviewMany organizations rely on “in-country” reviewers to check translations before release. Since no one knows the subject matter, tone, and content better than someone in the company, this is a valuable step for any translation project. However, many reviewers are doing this as an additional task, and just because they are bilingual does not mean they automatically understand the role. Here are some best practices for getting the most from your reviewer and keeping your translation project on time and on budget.

 “The translation is bad”

Too often, reviewers operate without receiving instruction on what feedback is required. Since writing style and phrasing are subjective, “translation quality” is difficult to define, so one person’s poetry can be another person’s poison. Frequently, when reviewers don’t like the style (or even the original source content), they edit heavily and share their opinion that the translation is “bad” or “wrong”. The challenge for the reviewer is to understand the role, which is to confirm that the translation meets the agreed standards they helped to establish. This will create a repeatable and scalable process. 

Establishing standards – for language and reviewers

The saying, “prior preparation prevents poor performance” is especially relevant for translation projects. Here are some suggestions to establish clear expectations with your in-country review team:

  • All in-country reviewers should be briefed in advance on the purpose, scope, and style choices made for the source-language content.

  • In-country reviewers should approve the project translation glossary and style guides in advance of translation.

  • Consider establishing consistent “error” categories (e.g. Accuracy, Language Standards, Readability, and Compliance) and severity levels (e.g. Major, Medium, Minor, and Preferential). Your translation vendor should have a standard quality scoring procedure they can share with you.

  • Introduce the reviewers to your translation vendor, who will share additional briefing points and provide a language liaison to discuss language-related issues.

  • In-country reviewers should be briefed on the project schedule and know when their efforts will be required and for how long. Respecting project milestones will help the translation vendor keep your project on schedule.

  • For larger volumes of work, the translation vendor should provide the in-country reviewers with a preview of the work product (“first page translation”) to get feedback and guidance before the main translation is started.

The review process

Now the process is in motion – translated content has been delivered by your translation vendor and your in-country reviewers sit down to work. First, consider that the role of a professional translator is to express the meaning of the source content accurately and completely in the target language, as though it had been written by a native-speaker. Unless specifically asked, they will not add to or subtract from the content. This guideline applies equally well to your in-country review team. With that in mind, here are some best practices for your in-country reviewers:

  • In-country reviewers should understand that the purpose is collaborative fine-tuning of the translation — they are not being asked to edit the entire translation.

  • In-country reviewers should be aware of the various types of changes they might recommend:

    • Company-specific terminology (this should be communicated as an update to the project glossary).

    • Company-specific “voice” — phrasing that is unique to the company and supports its brand (this should be communicated as an update to the style guide).

    • Correct misrepresentation of the source text by the translation team.

    • Correct objective errors (grammatical, typographical, etc.) — these should not happen, but in the event that they do, the translation vendor should correct them immediately and at no charge.
  • In-country reviewers should also know what not to do:

    • Minor changes based on the personal preferences of the reviewer that do not fall into the categories above. These should be avoided as they add to cost and increase the likelihood of project delay. Personal preferences cannot be codified in the style guide, so they are not repeatable for subsequent translations.

    • They should not re-write the content to fit their view of how the source should have been written (you might be surprised at how common this is). Their job is to review the translation against the source document and verify it meets the company’s objective standards.

    • If your internal team changes mid-project or a different in-country/native-speaker reviews the final work product, make sure they are provided with the same instructions and reference materials used by the original reviewer. Otherwise, they may lose valuable time making suggestions that are not consistent with the instructions.
  • Post-project

    • If edits to the work product are made after the translation vendor has delivered, it is important that those changes be provided to the vendor so that translation the memory database can be updated, keeping future translations consistent. This helps lower your long-term translation costs, maintains quality, and helps reduce turnaround time. 

Having the resources of an in-country review team is a valuable asset for any translation project. Establishing clear expectations for roles and responsibilities – the ground rules – can help keep your projects on schedule and on budget and reduce unnecessary iterations that consume precious time. It also produces good quality, consistent translation and a rewarding experience for the translation team. Elanex is happy to share best practices with you, including our matrix of translation error categories and severity, which you can download by clicking this button:

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 if we can help you further. We're here for you. 

Topics: Best Business Practices, Translation Basics

Choosing The Best Translation Method 

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Sep 17, 2015 5:36:00 PM

You may be familiar with these three translation methods: human translation, machine translation (MT) and post-edited machine translation (PEMT). Each has its strengths and weaknesses - how do you pick the best one for your specific needs? 

To help you make an informed decision about which translation method to choose, Elanex has created a simple chart that compares each method in six different areas: translation method

  • Quality
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Volume
  • Style
  • Subject Matter

Want to learn more? Click the button to download our infographic:

 

  Get the Chart

 

Topics: Infographic, Resources, Translation Basics

33 Useful Translation Industry Abbreviations

Posted by Troy Helm on Aug 13, 2015 9:24:00 AM

We always try to be efficient in our use of language.  That’s why we make use of so many acronyms and abbreviations.  Here is a list of the most common abbreviations you may run into when working with an LSP.

API Application programming interface; a set of programming instructions that allow web-based software applications to communicate with each another.

CAT Computer-assisted translation; when a human translator uses computer software to help make the translation process more efficient. Not to be confused with MT, but typically uses TM.

CJK Chinese, Japanese, and Korean – a common Pan-Asian language combination.

CMS Content management system; tool that stores, manages, organizes and retrieves data, such as content for websites.

bookletters

DNT Do not translate; a label to assign certain phrases and words that are typically not translated, such as trademarks

DTP Desktop publishing; the use of software, such as InDesign, to create precision layouts of documents, such as brochures or manuals.

FIGS French, Italian, German, and Spanish – a common European language combination. 

GE Graphic editing; the process of editing graphic files to update text elements with translated copy. 

GILT Globalization, Internationalization, Localization and Translation 

G11N Globalization; in the hierarchy of L10N and I18N, the overall planning context by an organization to develop products and support customers in multiple language markets. Also used in macroeconomic contexts to refer to the expansion of international trade. 

ICE In context exact; used in reference to a TM match that occurs in exactly the same context 

I18N Internationalization; the design and development of a technology or product that enables easy localization in different languages, such as externalized text strings.  

ISO International Organization for Standardization; ISO 639 is a standard to classify languages in two or three letter codes. Some of the more common 2 letter language codes include:

ar - Arabic
de - German
en - English
es - Spanish

fr - French
hi - Hindi
ja - Japanese

pt - Portuguese
ru - Russian
zh - Chinese

L10N Localization; Process of adapting content or a product for a locale or market. Translation is a step in the L10N process, which may include modifying design or layout, adapting formats such as dates and phone numbers, or addressing legal/local requirements.

LE Layout editing; adjusting a text and graphics layout in documents and websites to accommodate text changes after a translation.    

LSP Language service provider; a company that provides services such as translation, localization, and/or interpretation.

MLV Multi-language vendor; a language service provider (LSP) that offers services in multiple languages. 

MT Machine translation; the automated translation of text by software.

OCR Optical character recognition; the conversion of printed or written text by a computer into machine-readable format.

PEMT Post-edited machine translation; when a human translator edits machine translation (MT) output for the purpose of improving the accuracy and/or readability.

PM Project manager; an individual who manages and coordinates all tasks of a translation project. 

PPW Price per word.

RBMT Rules based machine translation; machine translation systems based on linguistic information about source and target languages commonly retrieved from dictionaries and grammars.

SLV Single language vendor; a language service provider (LSP) that provides translation and/or localization into only one language.

SMT Statistical machine translation; statistical probability models for how text should be translated by machine translation. 

TEP Translate-edit-proof; a common set of steps to ensure translation quality. 

abbreviations

TM Translation memory; pairs of previously human translated text segments stored in a database for reuse.

TMS Translation management system; the combination of tools, typically including a glossary tool and translation memory, that are used to manage a translation project. 

TMX Translation memory eXchange; a standard data format enabling the exchange of translation memories between translation technologies. 

UI User interface; the means by which a human interacts with a computer or software, typically meaning the text elements to be localized.

V/O Voiceover; the voice of an unseen narrator. 

XLIFF XML localization interchange file format; an XML-based data format to standardize the way localizable data are exchanged between tools during the localization process 

XML eXtensible markup language; a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is readable to both machines and humans

Topics: Resources, Translation Basics

Thanks for the Memories: The Many Benefits of Translation Memory

Posted by Troy Helm on Aug 5, 2015 4:05:00 PM

Understandably, occasional buyers of translation services may have misconceptions about what’s involved in a translation project. More often than not, they think of translation as a commodity. They shop around for the cheapest vendor, much like they do for office supplies.

Carpenter-Tools3It’s important to realize that translation isn’t a commodity. It’s a service. Who performs the service and the tools they use to do the job matter. Just as you would expect a skilled carpenter to use a hammer, drill, and square, there are certain tools you should expect your language service provider (LSP) to use. Translation memory (TM) is arguably one of the most important of those tools. And you should be wary of any LSP that doesn’t utilize it - you might be paying twice to translate the same sentence.

A Translation memory is a database that stores sentences, phrases, or other “segments” of text that have been previously translated by humans. These saved “translation units” are then automatically reused so a translator never has to translate a sentence more than once. The TM tool applies the translation memory to the source file (original material to be translated) to identify any 100% matches (identical segments) or fuzzy matches (similar segments). The translator can then accept the matches suggested by TM or override them with a new translation. Any new translated segments or updated segments are added to the TM for future re-use.

TM should not be confused with machine translation (MT) or glossaries. MT attempts to entirely replace the human translator with software; TM re-uses human translations. It is the translator using a TM tool who ultimately decides whether or not it is correct to use a match. Glossaries contain a list of approved terminology so that human translations are consistent and follow a defined style. They typically do not provide matches for segments of text. There are also tools to manage and use a glossary, and when combined with a TM and other tools are called a Translation Management System (TMS).

Using a TM provides many benefits that extend to both language service providers and translation buyers. Here’s how: 

  1. WatchandKeysSpeed. Think of translators as a scarce and valuable resource whose time should be used wisely. TM allows translators to concentrate on new material rather than wasting time on translating the same sentence over and over again. This is especially important when working with content such as a technical manual that stays consistent from year to year. Translation memory can save significant amounts of time in these cases by eliminating the time to re-translate entire sentences, paragraphs or pages.

  2. Cost. Translation is typically charged by the word. For example, if a document is 10,000 words and your LSP charges $0.15 per word, you will pay $1,500 to get the job done. But, let’s suppose the document is a revision to the technical manual from the point above. Chances are the bulk of the text is the same as the previous version. TM will already have those segments saved, meaning there are fewer words to actually translate. Of course, this also means that copywriters should not change acceptable sentences because they can, or the full benefit is lost. Anything that isn’t matched by TM will be translated.

  3. Consistency. Translation memory allows for greater consistency within a document and across a company’s content. The preferred way to translate certain phrases has already been approved so those translation units will remain the same across all documents, no matter which translator is working on the project.

Translation memory is one of the important tools that makes the difference in quality, speed, and cost of delivering professional translation work. A translation service provider that doesn’t talk to you about translation memory or doesn’t use it is not providing top-notch service or reasonable pricing. If you have an ongoing need for fast, accurate, and easy translation, it’s not something you should do without.

Topics: Translation Basics, Translation Tools

Freelance Translators: The Preferred Solution

Posted by Agnieszka Ostrowska on Jul 23, 2015 11:59:00 AM

self-employed-nutritionistThere’s been much ado lately about the rise of the freelance economy. More workers want the flexibility of independent careers and more companies need freelancers to scale labor efficiently to meet client demands.

Interestingly, the freelance economy is nothing new when it comes to translation services. Freelancers have long been the backbone of the industry. Most professional translators are actually independent contractors…and prefer it that way. The arrangement benefits translators, language service providers, and where it matters the most: the translation customer. Here’s why:

1.  Autonomy. Historically, translators worked together in offices because they needed the infrastructure. Transmitting information was difficult (faxes, banks of dial-up modems and phone lines), transferring money internationally was expensive, and it was difficult to market services to a large enough audience. However, because of the Internet and international payment systems like PayPal, translators no longer need access to an office. Technology has made it very easy for individuals to “hang a shingle” and work as professional full-time translators without going into an office everyday. The world’s best translators, especially those with experience in highly specialized subjects, prefer to work as freelancers and have so much demand they only accept the jobs they want to do. What could be better?

2.  Specialization.  The best translations come from translators who are subject-matter experts as well as linguists. In the same way that it would be very difficult for someone to explain text about a subject (such as electrical engineering or law) with which they are unfamiliar, it is equally difficult for translators to comprehend and fluidly translate a document about a subject they don’t deeply understand. When you don’t know vocabulary or how terminology is standardly used, the translation does not read smoothly. This is especially problematic because English, a common source language, is highly context-sensitive. For example, the term “derivative” is expressed differently when used in a finance, mathematics or legal context. In fact, many “awkward” translations, often dismissed as “translated by a machine,” are done by a translator who simply does not understand what they are reading. They do a very literal or “wooden” translation.

RecognizeExcellence3. Better outcomes. If a company has in-house translators, they must use them preferentially to keep them busy. So if they receive an assignment for a legal translation from Spanish to English, but only have generalists or technical translators available in-house, the economics mean those employees will be asked to perform the translation. In short, the best translator for the job isn’t necessarily doing the job. Additionally, it is impossible to staff for the highs and lows of translation demand. Either the costs would be astronomically high to pay people to sit in a room and not translate (and those costs would be passed on to customers), or they would not have the capacity to take on large volumes of work. Many of the largest traditional translation agencies outsource translation to other in-country translation companies with their own internal teams – with all the aforementioned issues. Technology enables the management of networks of individual freelance professionals to be easily coordinated and scaled. It’s more efficient and more effective.

Knowing this, having a team of freelancers working on your project shouldn’t alarm you, as it is truly to your advantage. However, you should know about your team’s qualifications. If you are unsure, here are three good questions to ask your language service provider:

  1. How does the company find, test and manage the quality of freelance translators?
  2. How does the company use technology to manage large teams of individual translators?
  3. Do team members have experience with the subject matter?

In the end, this is what’s key to know about these independent contractors:  freelance does not mean part-time or not professional. These individuals have both professional degrees and years of experience in their craft. They are the best in their fields and those who are best equipped to handle your translation needs.

Topics: Translation Basics

10 Industry Terms Every Translation Buyer Needs to Know

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jul 16, 2015 11:45:00 AM

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Speaking fluently with your translation service provider? Every industry has its own specialized jargon and the translation business is no exception. Here is a list of ten of the industry’s most commonly used terms.

Exact Match:  A translation memory match where the source text of to be translated is character-for-character exactly the same as the source text of the saved translation. Despite being an exact match, the sentence must be reviewed by an editor to make sure that the sentence is correct in the new context (such as gender or case).

Fuzzy Match:  A translation memory match where the source text of to be translated is almost the same as the source text of the saved translation. The difference can be as simple as one word or gender difference to a sentence that the translation memory software interprets as reasonably close to a previous translation. Used as a starting point for the translator and provides cost savings to the customer.

Glossary:  A collection of terms prepared before a translation project begins containing preferred translations for terms that are highly technical, have multiple potential translations or meanings, are vague or open to mistranslation. Glossaries also usually include terms that are non-translatable, such as trademarked product names or company names, or require marketing input (e.g. tag lines, product names, etc.), to indicate exactly how these items must appear in the translation. Glossary matches are typically applied automatically by translation tools, instead of relying upon translator recollection to provide consistency.

Localization (L10N):  Process of adapting content or a product for a locale or market. Translation is a step in the L10N process, which may include modifying design or layout, adapting formats such as dates and phone numbers, or addressing legal/local requirements.

Mother Tongue:  A linguist’s first language, which is usually the primary language of their home country and/or parents. With very rare exceptions, professional translators always work from another language to their mother tongue only.

Source:  The content and language of the materials to be translated.

Style Guide:  A document that defines the voice, tone, direction, and overall style for the materials in a translation project. Very similar to a style guide used by a marketing department, but extended into specific language pairs. For example, the company tone may be casual, but their target market in Egypt may prefer a more formal tone.

Target:  The content and language that the materials will be translated into.

Translation Memory (TM):  Pairs of previously human translated text segments stored in a database. A segment is ordinarily, but not always, a sentence.

Word Count:  The actual number of words in the source text to be translated. The word count forms the basis to price translation work. This is distinct from words that should not be translated, and may be further divided into words that are from repetitive sentences or words from sentences matched from a translation memory.

See a more complete list here

To begin the download process for a list of these terms, click the button:

  Download 10 Industry Terms

Topics: Resources, Translation Basics

5 Tips for Choosing a Translation Service Provider

Posted by Donald J. Plumley, CEO on Jun 18, 2015 2:55:00 PM

Internet_dogMore than 20 years ago, cartoonist Peter Steiner created one of the most famous New Yorker cartoons of all time.  It features two dogs in an office, one sitting at a computer. The caption reads: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Steiner’s cartoon is still relevant today.  With so much business conducted without meeting face to face, it’s hard to know whom you’re actually working with.   This is especially true when it comes to translation services. The barriers to entry to put up a website and market translation services are very low. On top of that, customers can rarely directly judge the quality of services, as it is unlikely they can read the finished product.

If you’re in the market for translation services, here are five things to consider before selecting a company to trust with your brand.

Can They Meet Your Needs?

Both you and your provider must be crystal clear on what you want to achieve. Website localization from English to Chinese for a consumer goods company and translation of contracts and financial records for M&A due diligence are two completely different situations and both require a knowledge-set far beyond just the languages. Ensuring that your business and project requirements are aligned with the capabilities of your translation service provider is critical to creating a long-lasting partnership.

images-1-1Should You Rely on a Test Translation?

Most translation service providers are happy to perform short test translations for potential clients as a way to demonstrate the quality of their work. Test translations, however, aren’t always the best predictor of capability or long-term translation quality. On one hand, you run the risk that the translation company will spend much more time on your test than with the real work that follows. On the other hand, a one-time test doesn’t show what a company is capable of once they have set up a customized team and process to handle your specific need.

Furthermore, since language is subjective, you should offer guidelines to translators before the test. If available, provide examples of translations in the tone and style you (or your reviewer) prefer. Prepare a glossary of key terminology. Be clear on your objectives for the test. Are you looking for a highly literal translation or one adapted to the specific market and customer?

Given a one-shot opportunity to impress, it should not be a surprise that the translator carefully selected to perform the test may not be on the team that ultimately does the work. Instead, ask about the linguists who will be assigned to your project. Are they subject-matter experts or are they just generalists? What kind of processes and checks does the company use to insure a consistent level of quality and performance? What happens if the volume is much larger than one translator can handle alone?

Does the Company Have a Quality Control Process?

Since the quality of a translation can be highly subjective, there are techniques a company can use to consistently meet your expectations. Will they use a glossary and style guide?  How are translators selected and evaluated? Will an editor (a qualified linguist) review each sentence of each document or are they just proofreading or spot-checking? Do they stand behind their work with a warranty?

images-5-1Cost

It is a rare situation where cost is not carefully scrutinized. Given that there is surprising variability in prices for translation services, does a low price mean good value or low quality? The unit of pricing is typically by the source word. This price is dependent upon the process, the skills of the translators and editors – the price is higher for complex or unusual subjects – and the amount of additional services required. With pricing that is “too good to be true,” the maxim caveat emptor applies. Regardless of price, make sure that the quote is fully inclusive. Does it include a separate editorial review process? Project management time? What about the time to format the final document or review the webpage in final form to make sure the translated text displays properly? If the price is really low, are they using machine translation and asking a translator to fix only the egregious errors?

Speed and Ease of Translation

Meeting deadlines is a principal concern for companies and should be one of the main areas of discussion with any potential translation provider. It is fundamental for translators to translate efficiently, reliably and on-time. A timeframe for completion should be clearly agreed at the very beginning of any project.

In summary, finding the right translation provider and a capable team of linguists that can reliably deliver high-quality translation can be a daunting task. By considering the tips mentioned above, your company will soon be on the right track to build partnership with the right translation service firm that can meet and exceed your company’s needs and goals. 

 

Topics: Best Business Practices, Translation Basics

Need to Translate Something?

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jun 16, 2015 9:43:00 AM

Need_to_translate_something_revised_6_8

Our project managers have listed six tips to help ensure a smooth translation project. From translation newbie to veteran, we hope you find these useful.

Please click on the button below to download this handy list.

Download Now

 

 

Topics: Infographic, Resources, Translation Basics

Why is the Translation So Expensive? Understanding and Reducing Cost

Posted by Troy Helm on May 13, 2015 10:11:00 AM

Free online translation services like Google Translate or Bing have opened eyes to the value and importance of translation. They also make it difficult for consumers to understand the costs associated with professional translation.  Simply put, “Why should I pay for something that I can get for free?”

imagesHere’s the thing, when it comes to communicating with your customers, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

We’ve all seen examples of regrettable translations – many from low cost products produced in other countries or as tourists (see engrish.com for a good laugh). Good laughs aside, what does it say about how the company values their customers when they communicate with them so poorly? More importantly, there are business risks with unclear translation of manuals or instructions. That’s where professional translators come in – despite advances in technology they remain the essential ingredient to successful communication in other languages.

Translation is a profession, one that requires more than simply being bilingual.  Professional translators are highly educated and trained. They are also subject-matter specialists. They have an advanced understanding of both the language and the subject. In the same way that you could not easily explain an article about something you did not have any experience with, a translator can only translate a topic fluidly when they deeply understand the terminology and how it is used in their language.

Why is it expensive? Professional translators translate about 2,500 words per day -- about 10 pages at 250 words per page. Once you consider a fair skilled wage (which varies by where the translator lives and by their expertise), cost for the editor, cost for project management, markup by the translation company for the technology/infrastructure, absorbing capacity variation, currency fluctuations and international payments, and a modest operating income, prices of $0.15 – 0.25 per word reasonably adds up. With this in mind, it is clear why one should be wary of a rate that seems too good to be true.  With professional translation, there is a reasonable correlation to “you get what you pay for.” Maybe those translators live in a low-cost part of the world, but it’s more likely they aren’t native speakers or perhaps are fixing up machine translation without telling you.

images-3-3Although there may be some room to negotiate cent-per-word rates, there are better ways to manage translation costs. Here are some ways to make professional translation more budget-friendly:

  • Remove unnecessary steps.  Cutting and pasting website content from a spreadsheet or into a graphic file takes valuable time and allows for errors.
  • Translate less content.  Utilize industry standard tools like translation memory, which reuses previously translated materials providing time and cost savings while maintaining consistent quality. This also means that for subsequent versions of the same content, don’t edit/change it unnecessarily.
  • Use subject-matter expert translators and editors. Although they cost more than part-time generalist translators, they will save you money in the long run. Correcting and reworking a bad translation costs both time and money – and potentially ruins your customer’s first experience with your product.
  • Use technology wisely.  Free online automatic translation may seem like a good idea, but as outlined above, shouldn’t be trusted where your brand touches your customers. There are other more effective approaches such as post-edited machine translation (PEMT).  For example, our VeriFast(sm) platform combines state-of-the-art machine translation with human editors to provide fast and accurate translations at a lower cost.

In the end, the benefits of a good translation far outweigh the perceived cost savings of a poor one. Translation is a profession, not unlike attorneys or accountants. Accurately conveying the source text into the target text takes skill and time. When you are looking to save money, there are good places to look for savings and it is not always simply collecting bids for a cheaper word rate.

Topics: Best Business Practices, Translation Basics

10 Essential Tips of eLearning Translation and Localization

Posted by Annette Heidrich on Feb 4, 2015 11:44:00 AM

Localizing eLearning material can be an effective way to ensure that your global customers and staff are receiving appropriate training by making it available in their native language. Effective eLearning localization can help make sure that training materials are replicated across all of your target markets. With many moving parts, eLearning and training translation can be quite complex. However, with the proper preparation, you can eliminate unnecessary costs and foster an efficient process to keep the project on schedule. A key responsibility of your translation partner is to know the intricacies of culturally diverse audiences. This is particularly important when it comes to localization of eLearning and educational materials.

e-learning

Here are 10 tips to help avoid common localization issues when preparing your eLearning applications for a multilingual audience.

1. Create content that is translation-friendly. Examples of this include using bulleted lists, as opposed to lengthy and wordy paragraphs. Avoid jargon/slang and idiomatic expressions. Sentences should be short, in active voice, and well-constructed.

2. Use images carefully. Reduce the number of screenshots, use culturally-neutral images, and exercise caution when using metaphorical images or pictures that feature people making gestures. Cultural relevance is important. As an example, images of road signs from the United States should be changed to market suitable images for each country – a sign that says, “Stop” means little to a Chinese reader. The “Ok” hand gesture has an entirely different, negative meaning in Brazil.

3. When using graphics, avoid embedded text. While they can be edited by a graphic designer, this requires additional cost and time because retouching may be required to restore the background after removing and replacing the text.

If a graphic does contain embedded text, having access to the source file can save a lot of headaches if the original artwork files contain editable text layers. This allows text to be extracted, translated, and replaced with less graphic design time. Typically, the content package includes secondary files (PNG or GIF) instead of the original source files (Illustrator or Photoshop), so you may need to ask specifically for source assets.

4. Avoid embedding screen text in scripts such as Javascript or VBScript. If you can’t avoid using text strings in your script, help your localization partner to easily locate and mange the localizable text (see #5).

5. Bundle your text strings. Text strings (a group of characters used as data) can be bundled together as variables in an external resource file, or you can assemble them in one location in the code as a collection of variables, identified as localizable.

6. Be mindful of expanding text. Non-English text tends to be longer than the English equivalent and can present a challenge if the text container is not flexible. Depending on the language, translated text can expand 20 to 50 percent. Verify your design and code to ensure longer texts can be supported. Areas that are susceptible to problems are horizontal navigation bars, menus and other text containers with limited space to expand.

7. Avoid string sequences/concatenation. Avoid language constructions that contain fragments of text combined with variables. Other languages may need to have those segments in a different order, or the translation of certain pieces might be different depending on the variable (case, gender).

8. Reduce complex content integration. Whenever possible, avoid integrating content that is created using a combination of different technologies, formats and tools. Examples of this are fixed time constraints or time-synched audio/video with on-screen subtitles. It may take longer for narration in a non-English language, for example. The more complicated the creation process of those elements, the more complex the localization process might be.

9. Source versions of the files used in the final product should be made available for localization. Typically, technologies used for eLearning products have two versions of source: editable and published versions. If the editable version is not available, then the localized version needs to be built from scratch following translations or, in the case of multiple languages, rebuilt before starting translation. This is costly, introduces opportunities for errors, and adds to project time.

10. Make Audio/Video content considerations. Determine at the outset if you want a timed audio or synced recording or if a non-timed audio recording is suitable. This will depend if the video is graphic only or if there are people speaking to camera. These choices will determine how the translation and recording is managed. If possible include a generous buffer in the audio. Keep the script as culturally neutral as possible (e.g. avoid sports metaphors). Give clear guidelines for pronunciation to the voice talent.

Have any other tips to share? Please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

Topics: Localization, Employee Communication and HR, Resources, Translation Basics

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