10 Tips for Translating Your Content

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Si tienes un negocio y pretendes internacionalizarlo, está claro que tendrás que traducir todos sus contenidos: desde la página web hasta los anuncios y la documentación más técnica de los manuales de instrucciones.

Sin embargo, la gran mayoría de las empresas no piensan en la redacción de un contenido como un texto traducible. Esto es: tu jefe te pide que redactes un comunicado de prensa para mañana a primera hora. Lo haces y punto. Luego resulta que hay que traducir ese comunicado porque se va a emitir tanto en Estados Unidos como en el Reino Unido. Se lo envías a tu proveedor de traducciones y este te responde con un correo de dos páginas con dudas a las que tienes que responder para que la traducción esté perfecta, como es el caso del estilo que quieres en la lengua meta o el público meta al que deseas llegar.

Por ello, hemos elaborado una pequeña guía que te aconsejamos seguir para facilitarte la vida tanto a ti —como redactor y cliente— como al traductor. Todos saldréis ganando porque las pautas estarán claras desde el principio y no perderéis tanto tiempo en detalles.

FASE DE REDACCIÓN

1. Think about your target audience and share this with your translator. Is your text aimed at a teenage audience or at technical engineers? Writing and translating an ad for a teen magazine is not the same as a memo for the entire network of engineers working on a large construction project. In the first case, we will have to use specific adolescent slang and marketing strategies, since the aim is to sell. In the second case, the technical jargon specific to the project in question will need to be used.

2. Write clearly and simply. Write short and clear sentences. Avoid repetitions and ambiguities. Be concrete and don’t go into concepts that are too abstract and difficult to understand in your own language. Avoid using acronyms or abbreviations or clarify their meaning to the translator to make their job easier; they may spend an hour of their time looking things up (yes, it’s their job, but you will also get the translation sooner if you make things easier, right?)

3. Beware of cultural connotations and humor. The former are practically impossible to translate since they refer to the shared cultural knowledge that the reader has with the author. If the reader is a foreigner, has no cultural knowledge of the culture of origin, and reads the translation of the article without any footnote or explanation in parentheses, it is difficult to understand the meaning of what is being conveyed. For the same reason, humor is particularly difficult to translate, especially jokes (unless they have an equivalent in the target language).

4. Be consistent with the terminology. This is not only a tip for the translation of the document, but also to make it easier for your client to read. If you always use the same term, your customer will always know what you are talking about. If you introduce variations, they may be confused; they may think you’re talking about a different concept. The same is true for the translator, who, in the case of technical projects, usually prepares glossaries in order to maintain the same consistency.

5. As we mentioned in this post on the translation of tweets, we must take into account the space we have for translation and the additional percentage that certain languages take up. As we have seen, translating from Spanish to English is not the same as translating from English to German.

6. Review what you have written. This is a fundamental step, but one that is not always carried out due to time constraints. Your mind may go faster than your fingers, and you may not notice the typos or inconsistencies you have left behind. Needless to say, these mistakes are an obstacle for the translator. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to proofread what you’ve written. This is as important for your reader as for the translator.

TRANSLATION PHASE

7. Be sure to provide basic information to the translator: target audience, objective of the article, terms or even style guides (if any). Although the translator always does their own research on the Internet, you can never provide too much information. The more you give them, the more likely it is that the translation will be just the way you want it.

8. Answer the translator’s questions. Even if you have given them as much information as possible, they may still have some questions. Our advice is to respond as soon as you can, and don’t forget to do so. It will only take you a few minutes to respond and, in this way, you also ensure that even the smallest detail of the translation is covered.

9. Trust your supplier. If you are one of those people who trust machine translation more than the translator… we are in trouble. Human beings can always make mistakes, but don’t question your supplier’s translation because the Google translator suggests another option. What’s more, their solution will most likely be different from your translator’s solution. And worse. As long as you make constructive comments, your supplier will explain the criteria they have followed.

10. Take a minute to get back to the translator. Feedback is always appreciated, whether positive or negative, as it will help the supplier to adapt even more to your needs.

And that’s it for today. Till next time!

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Français (French) Nederlands (Dutch)