Specialized Writing and Localization

Authors who write technical documents intended for localization need to pay attention to much more than verb arrangement and active voice. These kinds of writers should also give attention to rules that make it possible for translators to fit the original document in intent and in structure and minimize Best Hair Loss Treatments the price tag on these translations along the way. When I researched articles and books on writing for localization, I did find one interesting fact. Following the rules for localization generally made the document better in English as well.

Some basic guidelines

If you are serious about writing for localization, get this book, The Global The english language Style Guide: Writing Very clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market. Until you obtain the book, here are some guidelines to get you started:

Use shorter sentences. Avoid nested clauses or phrases.
Recycle or repeat all the vocabulary as possible: phrases, conditions, notes and warnings.
Stay away from words which have more than one meaning.
Use adjective as nouns and verbs as verbs.
Use ‘that’ in all those places you were taught to not use the word ‘that. ‘ Removing ‘that’ as we were taught in Freshman English only makes translations more challenging and more subjective.
Avoid idioms. Favour usages that are in an ordinary dictionary.
Give clear instructions to the translation agency. Make sure everyone is about the same page.
Maintain it simple with smaller sentences

This is always a good writing technique. I have found that when I am wanting to write a concept and it the notion just cannot be framed, I probably need to break in the thought into two or more sentences. It is like trying to put 10-pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag.

Take into account that sentence structures, even thought structures, are not the same globally. If you want as direct a translation as possible, do not use a sentence framework that is predominate only in English. It may get mangled fairly easily.

Constant verbiage

This is a great rule in that it helps the translation, helps the readability in any language, and it saves on translation costs. Certainly, you are using the same words for all of your UI controls or technical terms but if you act like you start almost all of your interface tasks with the same phrase, “On the control bar, select… ” or “At the key window, choose… ” You have just made the author’s job easier, the translator’s job easier, the user’s reading experience easier, and you will not be paying for as much “fuzzy complements. ”

This is true for any words, phrases, paragraphs, such as notes, cautions, and warnings, or any regularly repeated and reused item. Repetition also puts the emphasis where it belongs: on the content.

Idioms for the Idiomatic

Several idioms and idiomatic key phrases are extremely ingrained in our culture that we have become ignorant that they are idioms. My best recommendation is to become aware. Some examples of words and phrases follow:

the bottom part line
in most cases
bear in mind
Also, using a phrase that has more than one meaning in British:

‘since’ when you really mean ‘because. ‘
‘figure out’ when you mean ‘determine. ‘
Rules for the Translation Agency

Regulations breed consistency and they also set up realistic expectations for your translated materials. In most situations, you would not want an interpretive translation of technical material. That means that you want your copy translated to match the proper execution and function of your tasks, concepts and references. I didn’t realize how important all this was until a translation organization, a previously reliable translation agency, totally botched the translation of our freshly minted DITA XML documents. They had done fine with the trial copies as well as in all languages but almost all of the completed data files needed to be sent back for them to fix.

1st, they said they could handle DITA XML when they really didn’t know what it entailed. Using their translation tool, it may have been simple. Strip out the phrase, check the context, translate it, put it back in, no problem. Right? Oh, and validate the reconstructed record against a DITA Record Type Definition (DTD). DITA has an element, menucascade, lets you enter a food selection item > menus item > menus item structure.

For example, select File > Print. A number of the files emerged back with, “Select Print out on the File food selection. ” Not so bad. However, a few of these were 3-level cascades and they read like spaghetti by the time they were translated. But worst of all, it broke the program code.

Another example of interpretive translation took place in the German translation. We noticed that some of the words were partially rendered in boldface font. We use boldface font for selectable UI controls and windows. The translation agency provided a translation of the Results window like this, ‘Ergebnisfenster. ‘ That performed not work for all of us style-wise. We checked other German translations from other agencies and located that the norm was, ‘fenster Bilanz. ‘

These are are just some of the examples of agreements you must make before you go too much with translations. Here are some suggested actions:

Employ really good proofreaders to review your translated documents from the original English.
Keep a record of any and all disparities between your expectations and the converted documents. Use this checklist on every new project with every new interpretation agency.
Create a Glossary of terms. This is an absolute necessity for most translation agencies.
Relax, have fun. This is easy.


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