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Translation Services: Tips on Writing for Translation and Commissioning Translation
A good translation results from a strong working partnership between the document authors and the translation provider. Our clients often ask us for tips on what they, as document authors, can do to improve the translation they get. Here we offer some ideas for you, whether you’re writing documents for translation or organising translation services on behalf of colleagues or clients.

What Can YOU Do to Get a Great Translation?

1) Use jargon judiciously…

What terms, acronyms and phrases do you use in your document that are meaningful to your organisation or your sector alone? When you are going to have a document translated, keep a very sharp eye on your audience. Whether your readers are overseas colleagues or stakeholders in your local community, consider: will they use the same terms in their own culture? Will those acronyms mean anything to them? If the answer is ‘no,’ then find another way to communicate your message.

But sometimes the answer will be 'yes'! When jargon is truly the correct choice, you can help by providing your translator with good background information, as described below.

2) … and cliché with caution.

"Blue-sky thinking." In some relentlessly sunny countries, the expression for fertile ideas is exactly the opposite – essentially "cloudy-sky thinking"! Idioms, clichés and metaphors must be translated for meaning, not translated literally. Promote clarity by avoiding cliché in the first place.

3) Start with finished documents.

Wait to start the translation until you have a complete document in the original language. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rush the process by asking your translation partner to begin work on a draft document. The result can sometimes be confusion over different versions – resulting in the very delays you’re trying to avoid. Or you may find yourself being charged for the translator’s extra time to match the changes against the first version.

If you can’t finalise the whole document in time, you may find it helpful to finalise a section for the translator, and then move on to the next section.

4) Provide background information.

Want to win the undying affection of your translation service provider - and save money - and promote a good translation, all at the same time? Give your translator good background information. Related documents, glossaries, explanations… anything that will give your translator an insight into the topic and the way you use language. A good translation partner will build a glossary specific to your needs, but you can help this process – and promote the consistency and accuracy of your translations – by sharing whatever background material you can.

5) Set smart deadlines.

On average, an individual translator translates about 2,000 words a day. Proofreading by a second translator requires some additional time. You can help yourself to a good translation by allocating the right amount of time for your translators to do their work.

However, we all know that real life can get in the way of ideal deadlines. When you must have your document faster, talk to your translation partner about what they can do to meet your need for speed, without compromising on quality.

6) Seek the right type of translation.

Translation services come in a whole range of levels of quality – and levels of price.

At one extreme, you have free online translation, the sort of thing provided by Yahoo! Babel Fish or the Google Toolbar. These sorts of translation tools have their place. They can be quite useful to get a rough sense in English of text in a different language. But these translations are very rough indeed. For example, a phrase from the Ubiqus France website that should be translated "Symposia and Conferences" is translated by Babel Fish as "Living Rooms and Congress"!

Moving into the world of paid translation, your choices include bilingual students trying to earn a bit of extra cash, individual freelance translators, and a whole range of generalist and specialist translation companies. Your choice will depend on the purpose of your document: is it for informal circulation among your colleagues? For your organisation’s permanent records and archives? For publication? Consider whether you could tolerate some inaccuracies and infelicities in your translation – or whether you need document that is pin-point accurate and thoroughly proofread.

When you decide you need professional translation, here are some questions to ask your translation provider.
Click here for an overview of Ubiqus's translation services.

For more information or a quote, contact us online or call 020 7269 0370.