How to prepare texts for translation
A carefully drafted document in the mother tongue may not be adapted in itself to produce a quality translation. The consequences can range from a poor understanding of the content to a deterioration of the company's image in the target country.
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Even the most skilled translator will not be able to work miracles when faced with a text that is difficult or impossible to translate, having to keep the same information on top of it. Therefore, before sending the texts to a professional translator, it is important to prepare them and adapt them to the translation.
It starts by planning the elements to be changed or adapted to the translation. Make a list of all the items that could not be translated into the target language. This list can be very varied, but should contain at least the following key elements:
- Reducing or eliminating as much as possible all local or cultural references: these references specific to your country are usually difficult or even impossible to translate. It is not always possible to find an equivalent reference in the target culture and in many cases, it will not be appropriate.
- Avoiding as much as possible humorous, sarcastic or joking phrases: humor is intimately linked to culture, so jokes and humor in general are very complicated, even impossible to translate.
- Checking figures, measures, prices, etc. are adapted to the target country, making the relevant conversions as far as possible.
Preparation of a glossary of terms if you consider it necessary: It will allow the translator to know the specific language of your company, as well as the key and important words that should appear, especially if you want to improve your company's web positioning in the case of documents published on the Internet.
Simplify the text as much as you can. It is not only a matter of simplifying things at the syntactic level, but also in terms of the content itself. Here are some tips to simplify your texts without omitting crucial information:
- Write short sentences of up to twenty words.
- Avoid familiar language, idiomatic expressions, slang words, etc.
- Use the active voice whenever possible as it is easier to understand than the passive one. For example, the phrase our company has launched a new product for Christmas will be much easier to understand than "a new product has been launched by our company for Christmas".
The final stage will consist of structuring the text. This will make the job easier for both you and the translator. Tips for structuring the text well:
- Separate and list each section: This will make the text easier to manipulate, which will benefit both you and the translator, especially if it is a long text, a text to be translated in a different alphabet or in a language you do not fully master.
- A good method to improve the positioning of your text (web publications) is to underline the important words to which the translator should pay special attention.
- If you want to keep the original version and the translation in the same document, place your text in a table with two columns.
- In general, you should enter all the information that you consider relevant to the translator (underline the parts of the text that should not be translated, add explanations about important terms, etc.)
The more time you have spent preparing and adapting the text for translation, the better the quality of the final text in the target language. It is not just a matter of making the job easier for the professional translator. The quality of your content and the brand image of your company depend on it. A structured and clean text guarantees a translation that is faithful to the messages, information and values that we want to convey.
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José Gambín holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.