You might be asking yourself, “But aren’t all translations done in context?” Actually, no. In fact, most traditional translation happens outside of its context. You can read more about the traditional website translation process but the basic idea is:
Step 1: Extract text from your website or web application.
Step 2. Send translators anonymous strings in a translation tool format.
Step 3. Bring translations back into your website/application and hope the translations make sense (and fit properly).
Can you see the problem? Translators receive the text out of the context of the website. This is an issue with mobile apps and other types of digital content as well. When translation is done out of context, contextual errors are more likely. (Does “home” mean a house or a homepage? Does “cancel” mean “close the form” or “cancel my account?”)
In Context Translation
Smartling’s translation management system is loaded with all sorts of features to save our clients costs and frustration, like pattern matching. But as a former translator, I think our coolest feature is the ability to translate web and mobile applications in context.
Smartling’s platform includes a translation interface, which allows translators (professional or volunteer) to translate text, live, in context. Translators interact with your content within the webpage, which means less contextual errors, fewer review cycles, and the fastest possible web translation process.
In Context Magic
Smartling’s translation interface almost falls into the “You need to see it to believe it” category (so let us know if you want a personalized demo).
So, here’s how it works: Translators access the interface by first, logging into the platform, and second, clicking on the text they want to translate. The text is highlighted yellow and the translation interface opens up in the window.
Here’s the magic: As you enter the translation, the translated text immediately replaces the original text. Not only do you translate in context, but you see the results instantly. No waiting for the translated website to be built before you can see your (potentially, contextually incorrect) translations.
Using the interface, translators can also see when a translation will “break” a site’s design. German text, for example, is often much longer than the original, so the translations can “spill out” of design elements like boxes or sidebars. But because they’re working on the page itself, translators can see this issue right away and often suggest a shorter translation that will fit, or in the worst case, identify the few specific areas that might need additional attention from a developer.
You’ll also find there are some important benefits to using a contextualized interface during quality assurance – but I’ll save that for my next post.