Keeping Technical and marketing translations consistent
A common story from our new clients about their existing translation provider is the inconsistencies in translations of their marketing content and product descriptions of key concepts for their brand. Not only does this look unprofessional, it can also have a negative impact on international sales, as customers don’t understand what they might be buying. Of course, translating product descriptions or technical information and marketing content require two separate sets of skills, which usually means two different people are working on them. This means it is especially important to work on ensuring the consistency of key concepts and key term translations across both. The risk, and common result is that over time these two drift off in their own direction and inconsistencies grow over time. At Integro we actively work to avoid these sorts of inconsistencies and we do this in a number of ways.
We go back to basics
You simply won’t be happy with your translation if you aren’t entirely certain of what your key terms mean in their source language, and Integro can help you with this. Can you define each of your key terms in a few words and explain why you chose that term instead of another? Having these ideas clearly laid out before you start your translation project means you can easily answer any queries your language provider might have. If possible, provide a list of your key term definitions in English to your language provider before they begin the project. If all translators are working from the same definitions, there is less room for error.
We ask questions
We want to get it right, which means we will ask for as much information as possible. If we aren’t entirely sure what your product is or does, we’ll ring you before we translate it. Of course, your staff will understand the ins and outs of your products, but this can sometimes lead to problems with knowledge transfer: you know the products so well that you simply forget that others might not. We want to understand exactly what it is you are offering to customers so that we can do your great products justice in your target language.
We don’t start with marketing
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: starting your translation project with your marketing content is not a good idea. Given that it is your products that you are trying to sell, you should first work on the product translations, ensuring that you are happy with these and that they are a true reflection of your product before you market them. Unfortunately, marketing translators tend not to ask questions to uncover the finer details, so starting with the translations of your product descriptions can help clarify these details first and give the marketing translators something to work from.
We use Key Term Bases
At Integro, we use key term bases to ensure translations are consistent for clients. We suggest you provide us with a list of your key terms that should be translated in the same way, but we can do this for you if you’d prefer. Our translators will then add in their translation of each term, and we will use this as a reference for any of your future translations for translators to consult. This ensures that key terms that should be translated in the same way across projects can be.
We use Translation Memories properly
Translation memories are a fantastic way of ensuring consistency of translations, but only if they are used properly. Unlike a glossary, a TM is intended to handle entire phrases or sentences. But the problem with that is when translator rely on it too heavily overlooking the fact that the TM alone, without the Term Base doesn’t guarantee consistency for individual terms or words at all- it’s only relevant when the entire phrase is the same or similar to something that has been previously translated. Equally, TM’s can actually lull translators into false security and make them lazy. TM suggestions should never be used to substitute genuine knowledge, and must be considered within the context of that specific project. Our linguists search the TMs thoroughly, and use their existing industry-specific knowledge, to make sure that the suggested translations are relevant and accurate before using them.
The moral of the story?
For the most part, translation inconsistencies come as a result of a lack of questions and a lot of assumptions. The key to keeping translations of your key concepts consistent is clarity: provide as much information as possible, and we will ask any further questions. When it comes to translation projects, questions don’t suggest a lack of skill, they suggest a desire for perfection, so they are definitely a good thing. Understanding exactly what you want to say, and are offering, in your source language is the key to getting the translations right.