If you’re looking for accurate translation, chances are that you’ve had a negative experience with translation in the past. Perhaps you thought that simply by finding another provider to translate, you might get a better result.
You might be surprised to know that the road to better quality begins with translation software, and not always with the translation company or provider you’re using.
How Software Improves Translation Accuracy
Localization tools aid the work of professional translators and help them deliver quality work, faster. But they also enable you to centrally organize and manage translations. Below is a list of the ways in which translation software helps businesses achieve greater accuracy and consistency:
- In-context translation. The importance of context to translators cannot be overstated. Without context, translators are working in the dark. When they encounter a word that could have more than one meaning – and there’s no dearth of such words in any language – they often have to guess the context and hazard a translation. This is because most translation tools do not let the translator view the source content as it is used on the website. Not so with Smartling. Its in-context view feature enables not only quality, but also faster translations, because translators don’t have to spend time researching all the possible meanings of a particular word. It doesn’t just help translators, but also reviewers, who want to quickly review how a particular translation looks on the website.
- Style guide and glossary. Companies keen on preserving their brand messaging build style guides and glossaries for important terms in their content for each language they’re translating into. And, if the number of languages you support is, say, 15 or more, imagine the number of style guides and glossaries you’ll have to create. Also, some times a company may have more than one style guide even for one language for different types of content like marketing content, technical content, etc. Then, these need to made centrally available to every translator working on the project, so you don’t have to repeatedly mail them out. And if you want to update them, the tool should allow you to do that easily enough.
- Translation memory. Reviewed, approved translations can be added to the database called translation memory and from then on if these words or sentences appear again in subsequent translation work, they can be inserted directly from memory. How does this help translation quality? Imagine a scenario where there has been a discussion between a translator and a reviewer on the use of a particular word. After you have come to an agreement on how you want it used, you add it to the glossary, then the translator subsequently uses the word in that fashion. This translation is then approved. By re-using this translation the next time, you avoid wasting time with a new discussion and preserve linguistic consistency.
- Ease of review process. Translation tools that help ease the review process by enabling an in-context view, by being available in the cloud and storing translations centrally contribute a lot to quality. This may be a little difficult understand if you haven’t actually reviewed a translation or managed a translation project. Reviewers need to be able to work directly with translators, if so required, and the tool should enable such collaboration and communication. They should also be able to annotate why they changed something and preserve versions. Another very important feature of the best localization tools is that they should allow you to customize your translation workflows. For instance, if it’s highly important to you that all translation must be reviewed and signed off by a particular in-country reviewer, you can stipulate that. This way, no un-approved translation will ever go live on your site.
Improve the Quality of Your Source Content
Even as you go about improving translation quality, it pays to check the quality of your source content. In fact, this step needs to be done before you start translating, when possible. The quality of source content is extremely important. This is where you can catch errors, before they get propagated further downstream in the content chain.
Drafting content in plain language can help improve source content quality in a big way. You can do this by following a few simple steps:
- Address the reader directly with “you” and other pronouns. This helps form the connection with the reader quickly.
- Use the smaller word instead of the bigger. Always use words from common parlance, as far as possible. If you have to use a big, technical word or jargon as it’s called, provide an explanation of the word.
- Use fewer words. Be as concise as possible. Bloated sentences often confuse readers and can similarly affect translators. Also, remember, that you pay by the word for translation. Hence, the leaner your content, the more money you save.
- Use the active voice. It not only makes for easier reading, but also uses fewer words than passive voice.
As easy as these rules may sound, it takes some time to internalize them. Content authoring tools are available to train and guide you on creating clear content.
Apart from the text, pay attention to the icons, graphics, or pictures in your content. Make sure you provide captions or descriptions that explain everything in the visual. Do not assume they can be easily understood.
In summary, localization software and source content are both important to ensure accurate translation. And, both efforts need to begin with the enterprise buyer of translation.