3 Ways To Prevent Bad Translation

translators.dialogueIs there a way to really prevent the bad translation from happening? We are mainly a software company, but we also provide linguistic services to our clients who don’t want to or cannot manage their localization projects themselves. In total, we work with over 5.000 freelance translators and with over 400 clients worldwide.

In this blog post, we want to put things in perspective and show how to handle one of the most stressful types of situations -when a client is not satisfied with how their project was translated. We will discuss how and why this happens and what you can do to prevent it. Want to know how to prevent bad translation? Keep on reading!

 #1. Explain your product in detail, beforehand

Very often, the client would say something like we have a very special product or our company is very specific. By doing this once the project is translated you will not achieve much, except raise the question of why you did not point this out sooner and explain what’s exactly the specific features you are talking about that may influence the translation.

If you believe that you have a specific product, this is a completely valid statement, but you need to explain this to your translation vendor and translator. Conveying a company’s message to other languages is more complicated than people expect.

Even if you have explained all about your business on your website, it doesn’t mean that people will visit it and immediately understand you and what your company is all about. This is not true in many cases.

If you have worked on a peculiar product or service for a long time, you need to explain its specifics before the team localizes it for other markets, as they have not been part of your team from the start.

At Text United, we enable you to check the project live, while it is in progress and you can communicate with the translator through comments in the system. You can use this feature to talk to the people working on something which is extremely important to you. Remember – communication is the key! 

 #2. Be flexible about localization guidelines

This is an absolute essential that should definitely prevent the bad translation from happening. Why sometimes it’s not enough? Because the implementation can range from having a few simple rules on which terms to use or avoid up to having a 200-page manual on how to translate different types of content.

How to effectively communicate what do you want in terms of style and terminology to the translation team? Think about it like this: If you want to convey a laid-back approach, it would not make sense for the translator to use a more official tone. If you want to specifically target the Argentinian market, then the terminology used should also be adapted to speakers of Argentinian Spanish. 

It sounds like a simple thing to do, and very often it is because the localization guidelines will highly depend on the project itself. This approach is more flexible, and if you want the translators to get the terminology right, you should definitely follow it. Otherwise, you are doomed to fix and change things at the end of the localization cycle, delaying the publishing of the content.

 #3. Define the scope of translators’ freedom

There’s the second aspect of localization guidelines that will help you prevent bad translation and it’s the freedom you want to give the translators. How much can they change your message to make it sound more natural in the target market?

It all depends on the project, but we have experience with clients that use back-translation (like running the translated content through Google Translate) to check if the translated text matches the source text. Sometimes they say that the structure of the sentence is not identical or that a phrase used in the translation is not in the original text.

The thing is, good translators will always try to make the translation sound as natural as possible. If you have a problem with this, you definitely need to specify that before the project starts.

 Bad Translation Can Be Prevented

Remember that people won’t understand what you want or need just by looking at your company profile or website. The key to good relationships, professional or otherwise, is the good, old communication! If you want to know how we set up localization projects for success or you have questions about your specific product’s possible localization, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Gosia
Written By:

Gosia loves copywriting and product translation. Additionally, she's a content marketing and lolcats junkie.

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