TIPS FOR PRODUCING TEXTS
Date created: 22/May/2010
Versión en Español: Consejos para la producción de textos
Adapted from: Getting it Right ©Chris Durban & Antonio Aparicio, American Translators Association
For Translators and Customers
Does it really need to be translated?
• Translate only relevant sections of existing Documents. Ask for advice from your Translator/client.
• Axe padding: all unnecessary texts, repetitions and sections that don't apply to that reader.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
• Use text only when there is no better way to get the message across.
• Instead of burdening your reader with excess texts, when possible, replace texts by maps, pictograms, diagrams, drawings and photographs.
• Avoid culture-bound clichés, metaphors, jargon, argot or dialects.
• Consider the culture of the language you are translating to, some topics can be taboo or must be treated in a special way.
How much will it cost?
• Prices don't guarantee high quality, but if the fee is little more than a babysitter would charge, the translator is unlikely to be doing a fair job.
• How long did it take you to produce the original? Doesn't your creative effort deserve a similar translation effort?
• Do you want your translator to consider, weigh and meditate over the ideas expressed so he can develop a faithful translation?
• Can your business afford a bad translation?
• Which is the added value of a good translation?
A good translator will identify writing errors while he translates, and will discuss them with you. He will be reviewing your text with another view; an experienced, critical, impartial and technical view. A good translator works stripping down your text by focal point, by sentence or by paragraph, and scrutinizes his own results.
• Smooth, stylish writing doesn't grow on trees. Even if you are orally fluent or you get along with clients doesn't mean they are buying your image.
• If you don't make your best effort in a business arrangement the recipient will believe you don't value the deal or you don't value him.
• In some cultures awkward or sloppy use of the language is not amusing; it's tiring and even insulting.
Finish the text before starting to translate.
• Otherwise, it's more time consuming, it's more expensive (corrections are charged as new text), and every new version can produce confusion and errors.
• Changes in previous versions must be clearly marked for inclusion in the texts that already have been translated.
• Don't use the phone for explaining corrections; e-mail, chat, and personal interview are much better options.
Say what it's for.
Style, word choice, phrasing and sentence length, can vary depending on who will be the readership and what is your aim. You must explain these to your translator, and he should ask, or your image could lose more than the most expensive translation.
English Colleges, Universities.
When quality isn't a must, it’s a good option. But for complex translations where the image of your company or the success of a deal is at stake, it's much too risky. Teaching a language is too demanding and it requires skills that are different of those required to produce high quality translations.
Translator or translator/interpreter?
A translator has experience and practice (and maybe even a psychological ability or strength) at handling written translations, while an interpreter is more weather-beaten with oral translations. Those who take on both, so dissimilar tasks, don’t profit from the strength given by a specialisation.
Which is the local variant of the language of your readers?
Countries variants have differences which if confused can produce unintelligible or false texts. These errors can be offensive for the target readers.
If your text is aimed for a local market (i.e. an advertisement of a product or a colloquial text), get the output reviewed by a native translator if you don't get it translated by a native. They can save you a "humiliating" situation.
If your text is aimed for the global market (i.e. for people in different English speaking countries or where English is a second language) you should use a neutral variant, and in this case your best option is a translator that is competent at an academic level in both languages, not a native (being native is not synonymous with linguistic competence and it's a fact that many natives overestimate their ability). There are people that are native in two languages, but it's quite uncommon.
Technical translations require a technical translator
• A translator familiar with the topic will produce a clearer and better text.
• A translator with a degree and/or work experience in the specific technical area will be more familiar with the embedded concepts, will work fluently, and will be able to discuss the topics at an equal level with your specialists, those who created the text to be translated.
• Talk with your translator, show him your business, your strategies and products or services, get him involved in your business philosophy. Get to know his strengths and weaknesses, we all have them.
Is Bilingual synonymous of Translator?
• A professional translator is above all a writer, capable of creating texts that express ideas and messages clearly and with a broad vocabulary and, at least, somewhat cultured.
• Besides, he/she must understand perfectly the language of the original text interpreting the style, stress and terminology into his/her active language.
• If someone is bilingual and he/she masters both languages, at least at a proficient level, and he/she additionally masters other skills like wording ideas in writing, values the meanings of words and written communication, and knows the translating skills that come with experience, there is no reason that person cannot be a great translator.
Before choosing the translator.
• The best translator is the one recommended by someone that is reliable.
• In the absence of references the best proof of competence is testing his work, not with samples provided by the translator (which could be revised and reviewed by someone else), but with a text you commission.
• Give him a sample text to translate. You can assess his quality and yield, and how these compare with his prices. The investment will pay off handsomely.
Are you expecting to do extensive translations or on a regular basis?
• Give your translator time to produce high quality results. Work under pressure and quality usually don't go hand-in-hand. The Ego of supermen can cause more damage than the humility of the common man.
• Prepare multilingual glossaries of the specialised terminology with the help of your translator.
Do you want to write a text for a Website?
Visit the following links, you'll find useful advice:
What is a competent translator?
Assess the language competence of your translator
Professional Liability Insurance in Translation
Translation Revision: Types and Procedures
Good translation services need competence not prejudice
High quality inexpensive translations
Interpreters and Translators are not made for the same job
Agencies and Translation Businesses
How you can assess the quality of a translation?
Translators' fees in Chile
Loaning between languages