The effective translation of business communications is often hard to achieve. Beechwood have been in the business of marketing campaign localisation for over 21 years and share their tips for successful translations.
Seven Steps to better Translations - A Beechwood Guide to Translation
Seven Simple Steps to Better Translations A Beechwood Guide to Translation
“ Translation is the interpreting of the meaning of a text and the subsequent production of an equivalent text, likewise called a "translation," that communicates the same message in another language. ” Definition from Wikipedia
Bad translations are often amusing. However, unless humour was intended, we don’t want our carefully crafted words being the butt of the joke due to poor translation.
Source: www.webshots.com (a collection of pictures of billboards) Swedish firm Electrolux launched this ad in America...
There are websites dedicated to highlighting bad and funny translations.
Over the last 21 years Beechwood have commissioned millions of words of translations. If you want to avoid the pitfalls of translation, then please continue reading our seven point plan.
<ul><li>1) Think Global! </li></ul><ul><li>When commissioning or creating your source copy, be mindful that what you're writing will have to be read, understood and translated into the target language. </li></ul><ul><li>Target language(s) will have cultural and business differences from the source language. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid the use of puns, idioms and colloquialisms. </li></ul>
“ A Dutchman in perfect English suggested to me, that the first meeting between potential business partners was like ‘two dogs sniffing each other’ . A concept I understood, but found his terminology unfortunate. ” Chris Caffyn, Managing Director, Beechwood
<ul><li>2) Project plan </li></ul><ul><li>Allow plenty of time for the translation process. </li></ul><ul><li>An average translator processes 1,400 words per day. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure you have considered the preparation of source copy, translation and review process in your project plan. </li></ul><ul><li>To prevent delays in the review process, ensure your reviewer is fully aware of the scope of the role, e.g. the volume of words, frequency of projects, timescales etc. </li></ul>
Hot Tip! In translation projects, bottlenecks typically occur during the review process. Some companies establish Service Level Agreements internally with their reviewers or make an additional payment if reviewing is extraordinary work.
<ul><li>3) Man vs. Machine </li></ul><ul><li>Translation via machine may be quick and cheap, but if you are serious about quality, don’t consider anything other than human translation. </li></ul><ul><li>To illustrate this point, we put the above sentence into a popular translation machine and asked for it to be translated into French. The French text was then put back into the machine and we asked for it to be translated back to English... here’s what happened! </li></ul>
Translation via machine may be quick and cheap, but if you are serious about quality, don’t consider anything other than human translation. La traduction via la machine peut être rapide et bon marché, mais si vous êtes sérieux de la qualité, ne pas considérer autrement que la traduction humaine. The translation through the machine can be quick and inexpensive, but if you are serious of the quality, not to consider otherwise that the human translation English to French ...and back to English
<ul><li>Translators are professional skilled linguists with subject matter knowledge and their processes have quality assurance built-in. </li></ul><ul><li>There's a common misconception that there exists a simple word-for-word correspondence between any two languages, and that translation is a straightforward mechanical process. </li></ul><ul><li>A machine cannot take into account context, grammar and conventions. </li></ul>
<ul><li>4) Always Mother Tongue </li></ul><ul><li>“ Just because you can sing, it doesn’t make you an opera singer” </li></ul><ul><li>Chose a translator whose mother tongue is the target language. </li></ul><ul><li>Bi-lingual individuals are less likely to have the appreciation and knowledge of cultural nuances in their second language as a native speaker. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Hot Tip! </li></ul><ul><li>For perfect translations, find someone who will : </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the source language well. </li></ul><ul><li>Have excellent knowledge of the subject matter. </li></ul><ul><li>Be an accomplished writer in the target language. </li></ul><ul><li>Be bi-lingual and bi-cultural, ideally residing in the country of the target language. </li></ul>
<ul><li>5) Translation is not copywriting </li></ul><ul><li>Translators are not copywriters. Copywriting requires different skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Luckily, there are a few people who have translation and copywriting skills. These clever people do something called transcreation . </li></ul>
“ Transcreation is the translation and adaptation of sales, marketing and advertising copy into a target language, tailoring brand messages to fit local culture and business practices . ”
<ul><li>6) One brand, one voice </li></ul><ul><li>Brand voice is a filter you should apply to every piece of communication in every language. </li></ul><ul><li>Brand voice is concerned with making communication sound consistent with the brand personality and is adapted to fit each local market. </li></ul><ul><li>This highly targeted approach takes into account local differences and cultural sensitivities. </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare glossaries of terms for consistency, agree localisation rules and style guides. </li></ul>
<ul><li>7) The review process </li></ul><ul><li>Taking a pro-active role in the translation process and following a few best practice guidelines can really minimise problems arising during the review process. </li></ul><ul><li>Start by ensuring you give your translator a thorough briefing before the project is commissioned. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide the translator with as much supportive material as possible e.g. glossaries, style guides, previous examples of work etc. </li></ul>
Hot Tip! Identify a selection of suitable translators for a piece of work and ask them to provide sample translations. Pass these samples to your local reviewer for their preference. This method builds an emotional tie-in between the reviewer and their chosen vendor and limits future criticism.
<ul><li>The most common complaints about translations relate to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of understanding about subject manner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrong terminology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Messaging off brand (see brand voice) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If your reviewer raises concerns about quality, ask for clear and specific examples highlighting the cause of complaint. </li></ul><ul><li>Then establish direct dialogue between the reviewer and the translator. Usually this will resolve the issue. </li></ul>
Hot Tip! If the reviewer continues to have complaints regarding the quality of the translation, then it can be very helpful to have the translation reviewed by a third-party to assess the validity of the complaint.
And Finally... • For 21 years Beechwood have been leading brands to success across EMEA. • The development of international marketing campaigns and their subsequent localisation is what we do. • We can help you find the best translator, not just for your industry, but for your company – someone who will speak your brand voice .
Hot Offer! Free 1,000 words of translation from Beechwood* Offer applies to the translation of a single document, from English into a European language of your choice. Simply email your request to: [email_address] *Offer is valid until 31 st March 2009 and subject to availability.
For more information: +44 (0)20 8547 4229 [email_address] www.beechwood.uk.com Emma Large Beechwood 2009