Preparing your Translation/Localization Projects

Namaste!  Hola! Bonjour!  Ciao!


You probably understood the languages from the above greetings. It is so easy today to just google basic words and communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your words. But can you use Google beyond that? Simply not. 

Thankfully, we have a universal language in English, to take the communication forward. A language that binds the world together. Approximately 1.5 million or 20% of the worlds total population speak English (native and non speakers included), second only to the Chinese. 

The other 80% would prefer to read this text in their native language. Speaking of which, I would need 6499 translators to translate in all those languages. Yes, you got it right! There are 6,500 spoken languages in the world, including English. If I have access to all translators in the world, it would potentially mean filtering approximately 1,60,000 freelance translators, based on their language, expertise, experience, price etc. etc… That would be quite a work! 

Let’s not bother about it, as I am content with publishing this article in 1 language. 

Generally speaking of today’s scenario, most content is translated only in top 10-14 languages of the world. If we travel to a future date, we would see that the challenge is tougher. As newer markets are explored, some content would need translation into as many as 60 languages. This would need enormous efforts by the stakeholders to manage the translation on time and needless to say a bigger budget allocation. Sounds good for the language services industry though. 

Common Sense Advisory (CSA) predicts that this industry will grow steadily and would be worth US $56.18 billion by 2021 from US $46.9 billion in the current year. 

Smart translation technologies have helped companies to save thousands of dollars over the years, when similar content is translated. With rapid developments happening in Machine Translation (MT) backed with Artificial Intelligence (AI), we will see a massive shift in how future translations will be managed and how it will help to further reduce the translation costs and time. Tens of millions of words are being machine translated daily by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and other platforms. At the pace, which AI is learning new words each day, it is only obvious that it is getting closer to generate a very usable translation in some of the languages. But such translation could only be used where the content is not subject to much scrutiny or if it is only used for some basic reference. Editing would always be needed if one has to get a quality translation out of it. To some extent, it will affect a freelance translator’s business as their task will mostly be limited to editing in the future, in most of the domains. There would be exceptions, but the gaps would get closer. It is hard to predict if AI can do marketing texts in the future, but I don’t see that happening soon. Let’s wait and watch!

Now, as we have to save for the future expenses, let’s see how we can control the costs and save time for the translations today. 

There is only one magical word – Planning! Savings happen with planning and there is no other way around. 

Translation or Localization needs careful planning right from the moment you decide to have a content translated/localized. The way you prepare files determines how much money you will have to spend on Translation or additional stages in the process. Something as basic as preparing the image files needs to be considered. You need to see if the image can accommodate the expanded translation. If not, would you be asking translators to truncate the texts or ask the graphic designers/Deskop Publishers, to make the font size smaller. Are the non-translatable parts on the web pages locked? Has a guideline/styleguide been prepared for the translation? Do you want the website translation to be done on your CMS or do you plan to send exported files for Translation. What will be the schedule for Translation, Testing and Bug fixing etc.

If you don’t ask these questions at the beginning, you would most likely end up paying extra cost to the agency for preparing files for you or for having the translator work on text that is not supposed to be touched.

The source text itself should be thoroughly edited/proofread before you plan the translation, to make sure the translator understands it well and is able to deliver an equally good translation. I have seen clients editing the source text after starting the translations. That is not a good idea. You end up losing money on the text that is already translated and also risk delay in process. It is also a tedious process to compare the old and the new text in a source file to calculate new words for translation or for payment to translators. Most importantly, We have to understand that the translation/localization project managers in most agencies and the translators themselves have a very tight schedule, and any change in scope of work would only frustrate them. So try to make it good in the first round.

If you have a file in word, PowerPoint, indexing or any other formats, make sure the text has good page flow and there is enough space for text expansion after translation. The bookmarks should be done properly to generate an automated table of contents or for cross references. Always do save the source file in original file format for future use. Converting text from PDF is not a good option as it would add to file preparation costs and time. Moreover, it is hard to get good leverage from translation memory (TM) if the file is not converted properly. Having said that, you cannot be always sure that a clean source file will always produce a good translated file. So it is advisable, to have a Desktop Publishing (DTP) stage to clean the translated file and make the document presentable to the target audience. Finally also consider a Linguistic Sign Off (LSO) round for the final files, to check if the DTPer has introduced any Typos in the file or if there is any glaring language issues that needs to be fixed.

A good translation handoff should contain very specific instructions for the agency/translator. It should include a style guide, a glossary, supporting reference materials and specific instructions on tone of voice, formatting etc. Reference materials could be a previously translated document, a Translation Memory and/or a link to a website, where the related text could be found.

Finally, all the efforts would not be worth, if you do not have a good translation agency or translator who can handle your job professionally. You need someone, who is willing to listen to you and is always reachable. Your translation partner must be proactive when it comes to communication and action. You should expect timely inputs and questions from them, for producing a quality translation, and for saving your cost and time. In one word, they should be trustworthy!

So are you ready with the next assignment?

Look no further! Sathya Global is here to help you with all your Translation, Desktop Publishing and Localization Engineering requirements. 

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All the best with your translations!

Sathya Global – Your true translation partner

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