Guarantee the success of your translation project by taking a few more minutes to truly prepare with this free translation checklist (peace of mind; priceless!).
Does it absolutely need to be translated?
Work with your team and identify redundancies in your material that does not apply to your target audience. Translate only relevant material, or create a condensed version of the original and have that translated by the translation service agency.
A Picture really is worth a thousand words
Japanese technical manuals, while short on superfluous text, are loaded with animations that are super easy to follow. Maps, pictograms and diagrams are more effective with a Japanese target audience. Judicious use of them can save you a lot in translation service costs. This does not mean that text is un-necessary. Rather, use text when you have to, or when it is the most effective means of conveying your message.
SUGGESTION: You may want to consider this method for your local manuals, too.
Don’t do it!
Resist the temptation to do the translation yourself. You may be bilingual, but writing and speaking is not the same thing. Do not be tempted to produce work that will be immediately recognizable as foreign - if not perceived as amusing (which will not do anything for your brand), it will be considered insulting. Employ the services of a professional translation service company.
Guess who did the translation here?
Use Professional Translation
Finalize your content before starting to engage a professional translation service
Rushing a translation project with a "draft-in-progress" will almost certainly be more time consuming, and definitely will cost more. Further, the more versions you have floating around, the more translation errors will appear in the final version.
Submit Your Final Draft
Keep the translators up to speed
Yes, tell the translators what the text is for so that they can produce a translation that has maximum impact on your target audience. The more information that the translators have about the purpose of the text, the more effectively they can translate your material.
Provide Translation Purpose
Avoid the language department at the local university
Teaching and studying a language is not the same as translating. It is not even close! I see this all the time - unfortunately most realize this all too late. Consider this: would you agree to a student programmer from the local university IT department programming your corporate website?
Use Professional Translators
Encourage questions from your translators
Professional translators literally analyze text from every conceivable angle; sentences are de-constructed and re-constructed countless times. If something in the original text does not sound right they will seek clarification - an opportunity to improve on the original. Encourage it!
Prepare a glossary for the translation service
A glossary is a list of terms with the meaning of each term and/or the equivalent preferred term. This is very important as the mini culture of organizations tend to assign unique meanings to words and phrases, that although have subtle differences to the generic term, are important. Also, simple words with a straight forward meaning often have several equivalent terms in the target language with the correct equivalent term usage being very much contextual.
Provide Translation Glossary
Plan your translation project in advance
Sounds obvious enough, right? But in a culture where everything is "get this done like yesterday already," very little serious planning actually gets done. Sure, you will find a translation service to take on your project but I guarantee you this: you will pay more (some professional translation service providers charge double for rush jobs!), and you will always be concerned about quality. Plan it!
3 words: Plan, Plan, Plan
About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Translation Service Japan, Tokyo. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional articles and news on Japanese Translation Services
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