Julio Montero

Directeur régional (Toronto)


The Seven Features of Cost-Effective Text Intended for Translation

In the spirit of helping our current and potential clients obtain increasingly better translations, we have developed The Seven Features of Cost-Effective Text Intended for Translation. The simple but meaningful features summarized below will dramatically increase our mutual chances of success and satisfaction.

1. Project Management

More often than not, translation is overlooked during project planning and becomes a last-minute, “rush” component. Many of the most common translation pitfalls can be avoided by budgeting sufficient time and resources to it.

Even if translation is to be outsourced, time, financial and human resources need to be allocated not only to get the translation done but also to selecting the right translation partner, answer queries, even correct or clarify the original text; it is not uncommon for linguists to find errors or inconsistencies while translating text.

2. Translate Final Text

Translating text that is not final is a double-edge sword. If the final text is not too different from the one sent for translation weeks or days in advance, you may have saved time. However, incorporating significant changes to text that has already been translated may have unwanted time and cost implications.

The translation workflow generally includes multiple steps and different professionals. Terminology or style changes that may appear minor at first glance might involve consequential changes throughout the material; e.g. changes to graphic components and an additional round of revision and proofreading.

3. Pre-defined Terminology, Style and Target Audience

Inconsistent terminology in the original text will affect the quality and readability of the translation. Likewise, the style and register of the original text should be carefully considered in light of the target audience, subject matter and purpose of the material.

Establishing key terms and using them consistently throughout the text will add clarity, help avoid errors and make the translation faster. Drafting the original text with due regard to the target audience, subject matter and purpose of the material will increase the quality, readability and effectiveness of the translation. Remember, the goal is for the translation not to read like one.

4. Layout/Format

In order for the translation to keep the same layout and format as the original text, space, font and software considerations need to be taken into account. Even the use of certain colours and illustrations may have unintended implications in some cultures and languages.

Different languages may have different word length, characters, script sets and orientation. Think about Chinese’s characters, Russian’s Cyrillic script, Arabic’s right-to-left orientation and German’s word length.

5. Authoring and Content Management Tools

Optimizing the original text will in turn optimize translation. In other words, the expectations on the translated text are to be aligned with the quality of the source-language text.

A modular approach to the development of the original text, consistency and writing economy (clear language, fewer words) are certain to have a positive impact on project timelines and cost.

6. Use and Translatability

The simpler the text, the easier it is to translate. Using less words can also save you time and money. Remember, each word costs time and money. Avoiding phrasal verbs and local or idiomatic expressions helps translatability.
Untranslatable text does exist. Think about a case where the form and substance of the text are based on a non-translatable item and its association with an English adverbial form that does not have a phonetic equivalent in the target language(s); e.g. “ly”. Unfortunate“ly”, if the translator tries to associate a non-translatable item (a name; e.g. Bruce Lee) with the Chinese and French adverbial forms corresponding to the English “ly”, the meaning and tone of the source language text will inevitably be lost in translation. So you might instead require adaptation (also known as transcreation) services.

In the areas of marketing and creative writing, adaptation/transcreation services are best suited to ensure your ideas and the intended effect or customer reaction are effectively transferred into another language.

7. Risk Management

Engaging a reputable translation firm that adheres to the highest national and international industry standards, employs the most experienced and qualified language and support professionals, and has suitable insurance coverage (Commercial Liability, Errors & Omissions) helps you manage the risk associated with translation.

A language service provider that understands the importance of confidentiality, the intellectual property rights over the original text and its translation(s), and is committed to protecting your brand helps you minimize exposure to risk.

Here at Megalexis, we understand that our mutual success is interdependent. Contact us and we will be pleased to assist you all the way from project planning to translation, publishing and beyond.

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