Preparing your materials for translation

In order to have an accurate translation, the client needs to do some preparatory work. When we confirm a contract we will send through a full work sheet for the client to review to ensure the materials are in fact translation ready. But to give you a general idea, here are some of the main points you should think about before requesting a quote.

1. Languages

Decide what languages (and dialects) you require. For example, we get many requests for "Chinese" or "Mandarin" translations. In Chinese there are two main written scripts; Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong etc. while Simplified Chinese is used in Mainland China. Which do you require?

2. Audience

Who is the translator translating for? Are the readers senior management, are they production line staff, are they teenagers? As with every language there are differing levels of formality and style. A brief audience description is always an excellent start point for the translation team.

3. What not to translate?

Are there any terms, brands, product names etc. that should not be translated? Many companies prefer to maintain a consistent brand name/look worldwide; or would you rather have your brand localized to a suitable target language name?

4. Currencies and measurements

Should you be presenting pricing in the target currency or do you want it left in your local currency? With measurements, should these be localized (e.g. imperial to metric)? 

5. Acronyms and abbreviations

For example, the acronym "UN" has over 30 accepted definitions, such as "United Nations", "Uranyl Nitrate" and "Unidad Nacional" (National Unity Party, Peru). If your content contains acronyms or abbreviations, develop a list of these and their expansions.

Special note for website/string/code translations

Translation is all about context; how words are used in relation to each other and the meaning of the passage. For example, a single word such as “link” could be a verb (to link) or a noun (a link); these may be different words in the target language. 

The translator needs to see how the content to be translated is used in context to ensure accuracy. Lists of words or phrases (as in code strings) are particularly hard to translate unless we can see how they will be used in context. In these situations it is important that a live version in the source language is available so we can check the context of what we are translating.

The final word: Proofreading!

We operate in the real world; no one is perfect. Mistakes do happen. But you can minimize or eliminate those by ensuring that at least more than one set of eyes looks at your content BEFORE it gets sent to the translators. Make sure all your content is thoroughly proofread before the translation process is begun; even the most innocuous typo can lead to a quiet (quite a) change in meaning.