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

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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.

Does translation really make any difference to our lives?

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by Giannis Nistas, Linguist at Commit

Have you ever thought about the importance of language services? How translation and interpreting shape the world we live in as well as our everyday lives?

Well, let’s check some numbers first regarding the size of the translation and localization industry: According to Common Sense Advisory, in 2015 the global language services industry turnover totaled 40 billion USD–with Europe accounting for a market share of 53,09%, and North America and Asia covering 34,82% and 10,49% of the global market respectively. For 2019, the translation industry value worldwide is projected at 50 billion USD.

These are quite big numbers, so let’s shed some light on the role this industry plays in areas like international politics, global business, and our everyday life.

International Politics

Language services are crucial for day to day operations in international politics. You have interpreters facilitating communications in multilateral negotiations in international forums, discussing topics ranging from climate change and human rights to international trade and security.

Then, you have numerous language professionals working for intergovernmental organizations, like the United Nations. These can be copy preparers, editors, interpreters, reference assistants, terminologists, translators and verbatim reporters.

And if you consider a “place” where linguists play an absolutely decisive and vital role, that is the European Union. Being a supranational politico-economic organization of 28 member states, the EU is widely dependent on language services to maintain a close contact with its over 510 million citizens.

Since the EU is based on the multilingualism principle, all laws, treaties, secondary legislation, regulations and directives should be translated into the 24 official languages of its member states. For a democratic organization like the EU, language professionals serve the principle of transparency, promote the right to information and help reinforce many other democratic values.

Global Business

Most corporations with global presence have based their dominance in the global market on translation/localization strategies. In this context, they offer localized versions of their websites into numerous locales; they have developed dedicated online portals for their partner communities; they communicate with their distribution channel partners through translated material; they provide their channel partners with translated training content to help them get familiar with the features and capabilities of new products; they localize demand and lead generation campaigns to expand their pipeline.

But even in the case of small-scale corporations, it goes without saying that they have better chances of succeeding in foreign markets if they localize their marketing content, like their websites and their brochures. Another key to success for many companies is the localization of their product names. For example, many food companies end up having their product names localized, so that they do not sound awkward or offensive in different cultural contexts and locales.

However, when it comes to companies doing business in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector, the risk can be a lot greater than an embarrassing translation. For such companies, the translation of relevant documents, e.g. Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC), Product Information Leaflet (PIL), Instructions for Use (IFU) etc., is obligatory for regulatory approvals to be granted. Public health is an issue to be taken seriously, that is why the field of medical/pharmaceutical translation is the most regulated one.

From the above-mentioned examples, it is more than obvious that translation helps to ensure a smooth economic activity and contributes to positive business results.

Everyday life

To better understand how important language services are in our everyday lives, just think of the following examples:

  • Many patients need to use medical devices at home, like nebulizers to inhale medicinal drugs. What if they didn’t have localized instructions to instruct them how to use them?
  • How difficult would it be for someone to learn how to operate a home appliance or a personal computer without reading a manual in their mother tongue?
  • Clinical studies aiming to contribute to the improvement of medical treatments or to the establishment of new ones need volunteers. But who would accept to take part in such studies without first having fully understood the complications and risks, their rights and obligations before signing an informed consent document?
  • Asylum seekers need to be heard in their mother tongue, so what if there were no interpreters to facilitate communication? The same applies to medical interpreters who help patients communicate with doctors and nurses and, also help doctors understand the needs of foreign patients and choose the indicated treatment.

And the list goes on and on!

So, to answer the question in this article’s title, YES, translation really does have a strong impact to our lives. It gives us access to valuable information, it opens doors for global trading and helps international politics go around. Language services are everywhere and judging from the 2017 predictions, the demand is increasing at a fast pace. We’ll only have to wait and see what the future will bring for our industry!

A look back at your favorite posts from 2016!

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Now that 2016 has come to an end, we thought it would be a good idea to do a round-up of our most popular content from last year. So here it is:

The contribution of linguists in times of crisis

Refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, so many unfortunate crisis situations seem to have happened last year that affected everyone in our globalized world: civilians, governments, businesses. However, how often do we think of the importance of communication in times of crisis?

How glossaries improve the quality of your translations

This post explains exactly what a glossary is, what we should include in it and how and why we should create one.

10 tips on expanding your business globally

Are you considering taking your first steps in the global market, in an attempt to reach international audiences with your products or services? With the use of social media and the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. Our society is globally connected and many people around the world can now access your products or services. But going global is no easy task! It requires time, effort and money. Read our 10 tips and make sure you’re on the right track.

ISO 17100: Ensuring quality translations for your business

This blog post explains exactly what the ISO 17100 standard is, what are its main differences from the EN 15038 standard and what are its added benefits.

Localizing mHealth apps: Do special regulatory terms and conditions apply?

As mHealth apps are changing the standards of healthcare services and open up new possibilities for patients and doctors alike through a constant evolution of innovative technologies and brilliant ideas, the regulatory standards and localization processes are called to take a step further and grow in tandem, putting the spotlight on the safety and accessibility of mHealth app users. In this post, we take a look at all the special regulatory terms and conditions that apply to the localization of mHealth apps.

What is machine translation and how can your business benefit from it

In this post, we take a deep dive into the world of machine translation explaining exactly what it is and how it can help businesses all around the world.

Crowdsourcing translation: Pro or Con?

An important advantage of the “connected world”, apart from the unlimited access to all kinds of information, is that it brought together previously “disconnected” people, groups or crowds – giving them the opportunity to become more active and engaged in the world around them. Read this post and learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of this method.