Category Archives: Translation

The effect of technological disruption on localization services

by Nikoletta Kaponi, Account Manager at Commit

The continuous emergence of new technologies keeps pushing businesses from all sectors and of all sizes to change, or even reinvent, the way they operate. With the promise of simplified workflows, increased productivity and reduced costs, these “disruptive” technologies constantly evolve and bring about an ever-expanding portfolio of applications relevant to many, and perhaps to any, industries.

While a large number of companies may opt for a more cautious approach towards such new technologies, those with a more “thrill-seeking” culture appear eager to embrace disruption, not only to transform their traditional processes and workflows, but also with the aspiration that this can ultimately serve as a competitive differentiator. Living in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the possibilities for businesses to set themselves apart from their competitors and reach out to new audiences and markets can be endless, and so can be the challenges, with localization being one of them.

Companies are increasingly focusing on creating a “brand experience”, one that evokes feelings and inspires consumers, and does not just depict specs and prices, and such approaches can only be effective when they “speak” in the targeted consumers’ language(s). With the average attention span being as low as 8 seconds, as recent studies show, the importance for brands to be omnichannel and reach out to different audiences in a way that is relevant and appropriate for each locale is greater than ever.

So how do all these affect the localization industry and which are this industry’s challenges when it comes to disruptive technologies? Below we take a look at applications that some of those technologies have in two business areas, those of marketing and customer service, and attempt to identify certain key points for what the future, or rather the present, holds for localization services.

Marketers around the globe are putting on their “all-things-digital” hats and combine, or radically transform, their traditional marketing campaigns with digital tools; pay-per-click (PPC), email and web banner marketing are just a few of those tools, but social media (SM) perhaps stands out as the tool with the most potential. With the number of SM users having grown on average by 21% globally – and as high as 73% and 46% in countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively – in the past year (Digital in 2017 Global Overview by We Are Social), social media platforms prove to be more than just about cat videos, and so marketing campaigns are increasingly becoming “social”; they are enhanced by social media profiling techniques, channeled through a variety of social networking platforms and launched with the objective of reaching out to the world, engaging with specific audiences and achieving higher rates of conversion. Social videos become a powerful tool for raising brand awareness, while SM features like Facebook’s Marketplace boost the web presence and visibility of even the smallest businesses worldwide.

Tired of all the hassle of calling Customer Service when your credit card is not working? Quite a few banks are already using chatbots integrated within their proprietary apps to simplify communication and improve their customers’ overall experience. Chatbots are enabled by cognitive computing, what one could characterize as a “subset” of AI, and this is just one of the fintech tools that the banking sector is using for enhancing its services. Except for chatbots and their various applications in different sectors, further AI technologies, such as neural networks and machine self- and deep-learning, are also penetrating industries like those of healthcare, education and transportation (how would you feel driving next to a driverless car?), while retail adopts Augmented Reality (AR) technologies to facilitate consumers in choosing the right products for their individual needs.

Seeing how disruptive technologies are re-shaping these two business areas, it is no wonder that the client requirements for localization are shifting too. The content that the companies are creating is changing; multimedia assets are replacing lengthy texts, bringing about a “video revolution”, and thus more and more videos require subtitling or dubbing, depending on the habits of the targeted locale. Specialized Content Management Systems get into place, and thus new file formats and tool integrations are brought forward. The agile nature of digital marketing also calls for agile localization processes, stressing the need for global resource teams and “follow-the-sun” workflows. Additionally, with cloud computing being on the rise, cybersecurity and secure file exchange are more than ever critical for all businesses, rendering the standardization of related processes a high priority.

But apart from these technical aspects, the localization industry is also to undertake their clients’ biggest challenge, that of speaking to local markets in their local language. Social marketing is about conveying messages by means of an original, genuine and consistent “brand voice”, regardless of the language itself, so when it comes to going global, perhaps translation is just not enough, and so transcreation comes into play. In a company’s expansion to new, emerging markets of strong growth potential, localization partners are increasingly involved in providing their clients with cultural insights, or asked to conduct locale-specific research relevant to their branding strategies. And with time-to-market shrinking, new language solutions emerge, such as Neural Machine Translation (NMT), aspiring to address the increasing demand for fast, quality translations across all contexts, genres and formats.

These being just some of the ways the localization services are affected by the technological disruption of how businesses operate, they help illustrate that the partnerships between localization service providers and their clients are evolving and becoming broader, in an attempt to best handle and exploit the advancements and almost revolutionary changes that the new technologies render possible across all industries and market settings.

How to ensure the quality of your translated content

by Katerina Pippou, Linguist at Commit

Translating your content into multiple languages can help you expand your business to global markets and increase your brand prominence abroad. Quality is key to your global success, therefore you should make sure the translations you get are accurate, error-free and clearly understood by your target audience.

Although there is no specific formula you can use to measure quality, especially in a language that you don’t speak, there are several ways to ensure a positive outcome before, during and after the translation process. Use this checklist of quick tips and you’ll be able to effectively speak to your customers in their native language.

  • Be willing to invest in translation: If you think translation quality is not important, then think again! Low-quality translations may not only damage your company’s reputation but may also cost you a lot of time and money. If you want to get high-quality, professional translation, you need to have a budget for it.
  • Choose your translation provider wisely: With so many translation agencies out there, it’s hard to know which one you should trust. But if you do your homework, you can find some useful information that will help you pick the right translation provider for your organization. Make sure this provider has expertise in your industry by checking their current clients.
  • Plan ahead: Once you decide to have your content translated, you should contact your translation provider as soon as possible. Remember, a good translation takes time – it may take the same time as creating the content. If you expect large volumes or short turnaround times, you should inform your translation provider in advance, so they can plan their resources accordingly.
  • Prepare your content for translation: A great translation starts with a great source text. You cannot expect the translation to improve upon the poor quality of the original. Ask from your copywriters to be concise and clear, and to double-check the content they create for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. When it comes to software strings, try to include comments and/or screenshots, so as to provide the translators with as much context as possible. This will help you prevent back-and-forth communications and speed up the translation process.
  • Collaborate closely with your translation provider: Translation is a difficult process. Providing precise instructions, reference material, glossaries and style guides, not only could make this process easier, but it could also ensure high-quality results from the start. In case of queries or clarifications, try to answer to all questions promptly and clearly and, what is most important, listen carefully to your translators’ concerns and be open to their suggestions.
  • Use third-party evaluation services: A great way to assess the quality of your translated content is to have a third-party provider review it. Third-party reviews add value to your content if they are performed by experienced, in-country linguists who have a good understanding of the local market and your brand, are not focused on mere error detection, and approach the initial translation in a collaborative and not competitive way.
  • Ask your audience: The best way to evaluate the quality of your translated content is to ask feedback from your users. Consider adding a feedback/rating feature to find out whether your content is clearly understood. This way you will get useful information about the quality of your translations directly from your customers, and you will be able to improve your content.

8 tips for creating global eLearning content

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

According to a recent report, the corporate eLearning (or eTraining) market is constantly growing and it seems that this tendency will continue in the coming years. This comes as no surprise given that the business world is already lead by new-generation employees who are more independent and like to do everything in their own way, and the fact that eLearning is a cost-effective solution compared to the in-class training.

In our internationalized era, where content can reach global audiences in the blink of an eye, the choice to localize eLearning content is self-evident. Therefore, if you are considering creating an eLearning course that will be subsequently localized in one or many foreign languages, there are certain points to take into account:

  1. English is the main language most organizations choose to create their eLearning courses and thus International English is the recommended variation to adopt for the development of your online course. At this stage, it is very important to create culture-neutral content. Avoid idiomatic expressions, colloquialisms and country-specific references, extracts from literature or poetry as this may pose certain restrictions in the translation process. Use humor cautiously as it is very culture-centric. What is considered humorous in one country might be offensive in another.
  2. Carefully examine your target audience and consider issues related to their geographic location, customs associated with the audience, certain language requirements or possible restrictions that may occur in the localization process (for example, right-to-left languages and their support in various platforms, various language variations and the appropriateness of the translatable content for these languages).
  3. A picture is worth a thousand words. An image is, in many cases, a strong means to back a certain theory or illustrate an idea in a clearer way. So, it is essential to choose culturally appropriate and acceptable images for the target audience. Try to opt for neutral images of people, humanoid images or vector images. The aim is always to have a natural target result to achieve the desired purpose. It is also advisable to avoid adding text into images. Texts within the images may increase cost and time, as there is a certain amount of extra work involved in the extraction and import of the text.
  4. Audio: choose the right narrator for your audience. It is very important to know that in some cultures, as in the Middle-East and South Asia, people expect the voice of the narrator to be very authoritative and firm. In other cultures, as in Western countries, people would expect a friendly, informal tone. Make sure your narrator sounds professional for the intended audience.
  5. Use the appropriate authoring tools to create your eLearning courses (Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire to name a few), as they provide a choice to export the course content into an MS-Word or XML document with just a click. These formats are easily supported by the software used by translators and translation service providers and once translated, they can be imported back with yet another click.
  6. Keep in mind that some languages are wordy and the translated content may expand by 30 to 50% compared to the English original. This means that you need to provide ample space in your course for this purpose and possibly provide more time for reading before releasing the next text block in the screen.
  7. Make sure the content can run in most platforms, including mobile devices, which appears to be the most widely used means for viewing eLearning content.
  8. Hire professionals. Professional native translators who are subject matter experts (SMEs) possess the skills required to incorporate appropriate cultural variations and terminology into the translated version. Choose to work closely with your translation partner sharing meaningful information for the correct understanding of your intended message.

Translation memory: blessing in disguise?

by Tasos Tzounis, Assistant Project Manager at Commit 

First things first! It would be wise to clarify right from the start that when we are talking about a translation memory (commonly known as TM), we are not talking about machine translation. Quite the contrary! The translation memory is “man-made” and very much in the spotlight of the translators’ community.

A TM is also not a dictionary, even though they both serve the same purpose, i.e. to help translators around the world deal with the obstacles they encounter in their professional everyday lives like searching, finding and documenting terminology.

But what exactly is a TM?

It is a database which is created, updated and maintained by a translator. During the translation, each piece of text, or segment in CAT tools terms, is saved in a memory file together with its translation, creating a translation unit.

The TM is not just a glossary for terminology search, but it may include from one translation unit up to whole corpora, allowing the translator to search entire sentences as well as individual words.

Furthermore, it is not only created during a new translation project. Luckily for linguists, there are translation memory programs that allow the user to create memories from large-scale documents that have been previously translated. This function is called alignment and, basically, it is a process in which the source text and its respective target text are aligned to segment level inside a brand-new TM. These aligned segments will be used for new searches and will be updated with new content in the future.

But what is all this fuss about TMs and what are the benefits for translators?

First of all, TMs speed up the translation process, saving extra time for the translator and significantly increase their productivity especially when it comes to extensive texts containing jargon. However, this requires that the translator keeps TMs for each client, for every language combination they use as well as for any kind of technical documents they delve into. Their efficiency depends primarily on the linguist who creates and maintains them as they must be updated with all the recent changes and all content should be thoroughly checked for correctness. Moreover, TMs ensure high quality, consistency and homogeneity, especially in the case of ongoing major projects involving many translators and/or reviewers with partial deliveries or individual projects that relate to the same language combination and client.

What are the benefits for the client?

Benefit No. 1: TMs reduce cost. As long as a TM is well maintained, we are up for some savings! The TM can detect previously translated content, and depending on the new text’s similarity with that content, it can be charged at a reduced rate and sometimes not even charged at all. Also, by analyzing the translation project with a TM, we get a pretty good analysis of the content to be translated i.e. new content, repetitions, fully and partially translated content etc. This way, the project manager who is responsible for the planning and execution of a translation project can accurately determine the delivery time, organize and coordinate their team and ensure a quality translation that is also consistent with previous translations for the same client.

For many translators, the creation, update and especially the maintenance of TMs seems like a demanding process. Some might see it as “necessary evil” but without any doubt, its use facilitates the life of the linguist, ensures consistency, increases productivity and cuts down costs for the clients. It’s truly a blessing in disguise!

 

The 6 Laws of Translation Project Management*

by Effie Salourou , Customer Operations Manager at Commit  

  1. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will

First of all, you need to embrace the fact that this risk is real. Be proactive at the early stages of project planning and try to accurately interpret project requirements. Adopt a risk management methodology and try to spot any future problems, needs and setbacks. Whether that is poor scope stability, time consuming processes or insufficient project prep time, you need to identify and eliminate all major shortcomings. Setting clear goals from the start will help you avoid extra work and possible delays.

  1. Lakein’s Law: Failing to plan is planning to fail

Quite often, when project managers receive tight-turnaround projects they rush into execution without doing the proper preparation and planning first. But it is exactly in those cases when we lack time to plan, that we should take the time to plan. Very often, at the early stages of a project, when no one is doing actual project work, rather they are engaged in project preparation, analysis and planning, this is often wrongly interpreted as doing nothing. Yet when it comes to project planning, you should take the time you need. Do not give the go-ahead unless you are certain that you have gathered all the necessary information and covered all aspects of the project.

  1. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available

You have a week to finish a proposal, and yet you wait until Friday afternoon to finalize it. You have two months to work on a localization project and you make the last QA checks 2 hours before delivery. Do those scenarios ring a bell?

Another example of Parkinson’s Law is cases when you have a whole week to complete a 2-hour task. When you have all this time on your hands, there is a good chance that this task will creep up in complexity and become more intimidating so as to fill a whole week. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s extra work that will fill up all the extra time, it might just be the stress and tension about having to get it done. These situations can be nerve-racking and mentally challenging. To avoid them, set clear deadlines for all project stages, from vendor hand-off to QA, DTP, LSO and final delivery to client. Impose strict but reasonable time constraints for every project step and make the whole team stick to them.

  1. Cohn’s Law: The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything

Avoid long, unproductive discussions and meetings. A successful meeting should be all about sharing ideas, asking the right questions and finding the right answers and should only be held if it adds value to the project. Pick the right team members to attend the meeting, assign responsibilities, focus on solutions and end the meeting with action items.

The same goes for written reports. Avoid long, extremely detailed reports. Nobody has the time (or actually wants) to read a 10-page report on the progress of a project. Make sure it’s accurate and contains all the right information but keep it short and simple!

  1. Constantine’s Law: A fool with a tool is still a fool

Software tools are meant to make our work (and life) easier. But with the vast range of translation management programs, CRM software and CAT tools that are offered in the translation market, sometimes we get so overwhelmed that our work ends up being more complicated than it should. Primarily, try to leverage the software you already have at your disposal and make sure you are using all the features it has to offer. If you are experimenting with new tools, do your homework first, then choose the ones that fit your business and make sure you get a proper and thorough training.

  1. Kinser’s Law: About the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start

Do a post-mortem after every major project or in defined intervals for ongoing projects. Sometimes that would be a simple “What have we learnt doing this?” and other times it will be a complete report on time, cost and performance.

Part of it is also measuring the success of your project. A project constitutes as successful if it results in profit, if it brings new knowledge to the organization, if it helps the business expand to new markets or if it improves the existing processes.

Also, try to have your post-mortem directly after a project concludes, while the details are still fresh in your mind. After a while, we tend to forget the things that went wrong in a well-executed project and vice versa. If a project doesn’t go that well, we lose sight of successes as we try to figure out what the problems were.

*This article was part of the 1st edition of “The Elia Handbook for Smart PMs” published by the European Language Industry Association

4 tips for getting started with Machine Translation

by Dimitra Kalantzi , Linguist at Commit  

There is no doubt that Machine Translation (MT) is nowadays one of the major trends in the translation and localization ecosystem. Everyone is talking and debating about it in social media, blogs, newspapers and at conferences and almost everyone, including businesses, government bodies, translation agencies, technologists and even freelance translators, is trying their hand at it. If your business or translation agency is also considering getting on the MT bandwagon, you might find the following tips useful:

  1. Remember that MT is an investment and should form an integral part of your localization and overall business strategy. That is, unless you have your own IT/NLP (Natural Language Processing) department or are big enough to set up such a department, you’ll have to turn to the pros, in this case MT providers. With their experience, they‘ll help you determine what your needs are and how best to fulfill them in terms of system (rules-based, statistical, neural, hybrid), languages, types of texts, confidentiality, availability (onsite or in the cloud) and pricing, among other things.
  1. Make your market research as thorough as possible. You might be surprised, but as you’ll find out the market is rather huge with lots of alternatives on offer. Ask around and more importantly, ask from each MT provider you contact to provide you with a list of criteria they consider the most important in choosing an MT solution. This way, you’ll be able to collate the information you gather into a single list of criteria that are important to you and make an informed decision based on your own needs, capabilities and aspirations.
  1. Set realistic expectations. No MT system will work out of the box, no matter the amount of initial training it receives. You’ll have to invest time and money in order to reap the benefits of MT. In addition, be realistic regarding the adoption of post-editing by your freelance translators and beware of losing your most valued partners. Putting aside the gross generalisation that translators dislike MT and technology in general, many translators are indeed reluctant to take on post-editing tasks for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is the fact that because of the way they are currently practiced by some in the translation industry, MT and post-editing are often viewed as tools mainly targeted at lowering translation rates.
  1. Bring in the translators and/or agencies you work with from the outset, even before committing to MT and a particular system. Their collaboration and input might make all the difference to the success or failure of your MT venture. Bear in mind that although the role usually reserved for translators as far as MT is concerned is that of the post-editor, translators can also be of immense help in other related areas, such as MT evaluation and the maintenance and clean-up of translation memories (TMs) used in the training of MT engines.

Hopefully, these tips will help you in your first exploratory steps with MT. But remember, adopting MT is by no means obligatory and you’ll be able to review your circumstances and decision further down the road. And whether you decide to go down the rabbit hole or not, rest assured that your trusted Commit linguists are here to help you deliver your products and services, as well as market your brand in the local language, and who knows, accompany you on your MT journey.

Translation myths debunked – A linguist’s perspective

Commit_translators_workspace_by Eleftheria Tigka, Vendor Manager at Commit  

“What do you do?” I am asked. “I am a translator”, I reply. “Wow, you must know many foreign languages!”. I get that a lot. And I understand that this must be one of the most common misconceptions concerning a professional translator: The number of the languages known: Two (one source language and one target language) are enough. Of course the more the merrier, nevertheless a translator is not a multilingual dictionary, ready to provide the equivalent of the source language in, let’s say, ten target languages. Two languages are enough, provided that they are known in depth and that they are handled with responsibility.

“Was your grandmother French?” I am also frequently asked. When I reply no, she wasn’t, the question that usually follows is “Then how did you learn to speak French?” Well, I studied. And then I studied some more. And this brings us to the second myth: It is not about cultural heritage, it is all about hard work. A professional translator has to study hard in order to gain his/her credentials, to gain the trust of his/her clients, of his/her peers. A university degree, often a master’s degree are today’s prerequisites to becoming a translator.

“It must be easy to do the translation, if you know the language”. You must have heard that as well. Well, it is not. A translator takes the responsibility of his/her words, which can define other people’s lives when used in a court of law or in the case of medical translation. A professional translator does not provide the general context of the original text to the client, but the exact words that may change the client’s life forever. So let’s break the third myth: Translation is serious work. It requires dedication, scrupulousness, attention to detail and endless patience.

“But what is taking you so long?” clients often ask and who can blame them? After all, it is only translation. But let’s be clear. We are not transcribing, we are translating and that makes all the difference in the world. An English word can have five to seven different meanings in Greek and choosing the right one can require time, research and many queries. This leads us to breaking the fourth myth: Translation can take time. And as all serious businesses, it costs money, but it pays off and if it is done right it never goes unnoticed.

Translation is no more or no less than any other profession. It is not suitable for amateurs, for the faint of heart, as it requires in-depth knowledge and much time. But it can also be rewarding, fun, interesting and life-changing, as any journey that is worth taking.

Does your marketing material speak your buyers’ language?

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by Dina Kessaniotou, Project Coordinator at Commit

This is a very good question for businesses wanting to expand their activities beyond their boundaries and go global. Even though English is a commonly used language in many markets, talking to people in a language they understand in depth seems to achieve much better results.

If we take a step back and consider the role of global marketing or the reasons why businesses want to expand in foreign markets, we will start to see the usefulness of the content adaptation to the language the audience understands best. Businesses want to become global for two basic reasons: increase their sales and boost their brand’s reach. The fastest road to increase sales is awareness – through an effectively localized marketing content, that will be global and local at the same time. Global because it will still convey the same consistent message of a business throughout the world and local because it will be customized in a way to reflect the experiences, the values and the culture of prospective local clients. The fundamental purpose of marketing is to penetrate the target audience and get closer to people. This can be achieved only through the language the audience understands best, as this language will become the means to draw their attention, make them want to learn more, and finally persuade them that the promoted product or service is what they really need.

Even if people tend to use English terminology in some industries, the whole communication still needs to be in the audience’s native language as this is the only way the message can resonate with them and touch their heart and mind – leading them to the decision-making process. The language that people understand is the one they will use to search content, read articles, or view a quick video ad from their devices during their free time – it is also the language in which they will share the information with their friends. It is more than obvious that this is the way for businesses to create a personal connection with consumers. The traditional patterns of the one-size marketing campaigns seem to progressively give way to more personalized and interactive approaches. Going even further, localization in marketing material can be the key for differentiation.

That said, we can easily assume that what we need here is not just translation but localization in its full meaning – adaptation, customization and creativity, taking into account differentiation. This is the field where localization can be really fruitful. Modern tools open the way to localization for videos, interactive content and anything that could create a one-to-multiple, but also personal relationship with people, anywhere in the world. Studies have shown that marketing globalization can bring a drastically improved return on marketing expenses.

At this point, it would worth mentioning the role of Machine Translation. It has become one of the main trends in the localization world and we cannot ignore the advantages it can bring in terms of costs and time efficiency. However, its use in marketing content has been greatly debated. If we consider, as mentioned above, that translation in the traditional meaning of the term would not be remotely enough, we can easily assume that marketing material wouldn’t be the ideal candidate for Machine Translation, where the different nuances of a language are usually left out of the whole process. And, most importantly, we would lose authenticity. Marketing localization is a process that can be developed exclusively between humans. The original message should be felt and conveyed to evoke the same feelings to other people. There is no machine that can feel and adapt content and create feelings from one culture to another. This is also a way for businesses to show that they really care for their audiences…

 

Price pressures, a viable business, happy customers – can you have it all?

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

The pressure for price reductions holds strong throughout markets and industries, both for products and services, for many years now and will continue to do so for many years to come. However, according to the law of supply and demand, a low supply and a high demand increases price, while the greater the supply and the lower the demand, the lower the price tends to fall.

For parties in the translation industry, it is common knowledge and a topic visited often in conferences that reliable, experienced and qualified translators and editors are not that many – no matter the language pair – and even if someone argues that they are, then usually it is their availability that is limited or they are lacking in specialization – always compared to the demand!

So, the first half of the law should apply here, right? The answer is “no”! Despite the very optimistic predictions for the growth of the industry, compared to the stability or even slump in other industries due to the recent financial crisis, the pressure for price reductions in the translation and localization industry is more than ever. Why is that? Maybe because translation is considered as an afterthought in the development of any given product, and often of so little visibility that it gets a tiny bit of the allocated budget, if any? Maybe because we, as professionals in the field, have not fought enough to elevate our ‘product’ to the place it should be in our buyers’ minds? Maybe because technology has taken its toll? Maybe because non-professionals have entered the profession offering ridiculously low rates for a respectively low-quality ‘product’? You can pick and choose, but I would not want to get into that.

Instead, let’s take this for granted and see how we can respond to that fact in a way that is respectful of our customers, our businesses and our resources, and still lead a viable business.

Let’s start by trying to understand our customers’ needs and educate them on our workflow and its importance for their end ‘product’.

There are certain steps a text must go through before a high-quality translation can be delivered. Of course, there is a reason for that and it’s not out of a whim that localization agencies favor the translation & editing process, nor because we want to add to our customers’ spend. Language is flexible. Language is subjective. Language is preferential. Language is also fixed and objective (i.e. industry terminology). Humans create language and they choose how to do it, and each individual may choose a different way, a different word, a different meaning… and all may be saying the same thing! So, yes, humans need to be involved in your translation projects, and the more they are involved, the better it is for you and your content, because the more chances there are that their translation gets closer to YOUR way, to YOUR word, to YOUR meaning. How much time, effort and energy have you put in and how many different people have you involved in the creation of your content, or even your ’slogan’? If you think about it, from enough to too much. So, if it was so challenging to settle on a phrase or to finalize your initial content, how can its translation be considered an easy task, especially when it involves many different markets and cultures?

Our advice would be that you should not try to save from compromising processes and eliminating steps (which correspond to people). Instead you should try to locate what you really need to translate and into which languages, evaluate and streamline your translation processes. If this is something new to you or you don’t know how to go about it, ask us; we can help.

And some more seasoned translation & localization services buyers might question the role of humans and ask where technology is in all that. Although, technology was late to enter our industry and help us benefit, there are quite a few tools that can facilitate our work, and the savings time-wise have been translated to real savings for the customers. Customers must always make sure that their language service provider reflects those savings from CAT tools in their invoice offering discounted rates for previously translated (fully or partially) content. Another new trend is machine translation (MT). It is undeniably a considerable advancement in our industry and will most probably play a huge role in how the future of localization will be shaped, but it does not have a universal application. It can serve as a first draft in some types of fixed-language texts, like manuals, to increase the speed and the performance of human translators, and free machine translation engines can be used to give you the gist of a text for your personal understanding; but, raw MT output is not ‘publishable’ text — at least not yet and not where the message matters. Ιt is merely usable in only some language pairs and in no case does it serve the broad spectrum of the languages of the world, it cannot cater for more creative content, and don’t think of only sophisticated marketing content, just try to machine translate your Facebook status update and see what the engine comes up with in various languages.

In every case, we need to invest in and make the most of all available tools and technologies, not only to save money for our customers but to also streamline and standardize our processes, facilitate our project managers and our linguists, monitor and report on our workflows, and lead a transparent and healthy business.

In terms of business practices, price reductions are usually pushed down to the lower levels of the supply chain, which can either be us as agencies or our external resources. In both cases though, this level involves the actual people who do the actual work, and these are indeed those of value to the customer. In the same way agencies recruit for expertise and knowledge, and train their in-house staff to new trends, tools and methodologies to optimize efficiency, the same investment should be considered for external collaborators. Individuals have invested both time and money to specialize and should be able to keep doing so if they are to continue to efficiently support us and, of course, our customers. Hence, although, regular flows and high volumes or long-term projects can of course justify a negotiation to a certain extent, crunching fees should not be adopted as a standard practice, as it is important that all parties involved in this transaction, be it the customer, the intermediary(ies) or the resources, feel that this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Ultimately, I feel that the way we conduct our business will determine the quality of customers we attract; fair and reasonable practices will most probably attract fair and reasonable customers, and talent will gravitate towards places it can grow.

Technical writing: Your source content does have an impact on the quality of translation!

OCENQO0

by Nicola Kotoulia, Project Coordinator at Commit

When companies seeking to expand to foreign markets decide to use translation as an enabler of greater brand awareness and more sales, there is one thing that they should not overlook: What is their source content’s quality? And is it global-ready?

“Translation errors” are often a result of poorly written or unclear source text. How often don’t translators puzzle over the intended meaning of a sentence, on how to deal with inconsistent use of terminology, incorrect grammar structures, ambiguities, non-uniform style and other source related issues?

Often there is not the opportunity to obtain clarifications, and translators have to make an educated guess about the intended meaning or the desired approach relying on their research skills, professional experience and best judgment. And this could sometimes mean an incorrect translation or a target text that does not measure up.

When localization planning and timeframes allow for it, there can be multiple waves of questions and answers, with query resolution not always guaranteed. Especially for large scale projects, this can have a significant impact on cost, workflow, deadlines and product release.

Quality technical writing is a key factor in avoiding such situations. When creating your global market targeted material to be translated into several languages, there are some things you need to consider in order to ensure high translation quality, lower cost and faster speed.

After identifying your audience, defining your purpose, obtaining an in-depth knowledge of the material and organizing your thoughts, planning must focus on setting and using naming conventions for a consistent output. You can document these conventions, along with processes and terminology in the form of style guides and glossaries.

When it comes to the writing task itself, here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Time should be allowed for drafting, reviewing and editing.
  • The content should be translation friendly, meaning that the translator can get it right to the point. Clarity, brevity, simplicity and correct word choice for example, contribute to this point.
  • Prefer active voice for straight forward communication.
  • Define what may not be familiar (such as abbreviations, acronyms).
  • Avoid the use of jargon and idioms.
  • Make efficient use of words (eliminate redundancy, remove needless words).
  • Use consistent phrasing to say the same thing multiple times.

All these tips will make your content easier to translate, will speed-up the translation process and reduce editing rounds. Moreover, your original document will be accurate, precise and tightly-written, optimized for the domestic audience.

Moving on to the actual localization process and selecting the right partner is the next challenge. Choose wisely and trust your content to an experienced language services provider. They will use native, certified translators whose expertise matches your type of content, experienced project managers and industry-leading localization tools ensuring consistency, confidentiality and a high-quality output.