Top tips for managing translations (part 1)

A selection of translation books on a laptop keyboard

One of our most experienced language specialists at Saffron has put together her five top tips to help avoid your e-learning projects getting lost in translation!

1. Hire a native speaker

It’s a common mistake to assume that just because someone speaks a foreign language that they can translate everything into anything. Remember that only native speakers of a language will know the local customs and habits that subtly affect and impact on a language. You can’t substitute for the real McCoy!

2. Check that the translator matches your requirements

It can be quite difficult to know your translator’s efficacy when you don’t speak the language(s) they’ll be translating into. Since the storyboard you’ll be sending will probably be written in English, even if they’re a native English speaker, it’s crucial that you test their English reading and writing ability. If your translator doesn’t understanding the storyboard, they’ll be sure to mess up their translations!

3. Train the translator

Every company has an induction programme for their new employees, so why not use that material to train the translator? This will give them a great insight on your company’s standards and will help them assess and adopt your company’s writing style.

4. Translate from A to B, not B to C

Avoid at all costs translating from another translation. If you have a version of the course in the original language, send that version to the translator. The best example to highlight that issue is the Bible. It’s been translated from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to the current versions. Studies of the bible in the 1990s and 2000s indicate that quite a bit has been lost in translation!

5. Distrust automated translation

So many aspects of your working life have been digitalised that it’s easy to forget what technology is supposed to be for! And this is perhaps most true in the translation industry. Ask your translator what system they use, and how. Make sure they use technology only to assist their translations, rather than using it to fully automate the entire process. If they use automated translation, you might as well use Google Translate; the result will be the same and you will save yourself money in the process! Remember that language is fundamentally about people and emotions, not machines.

About the author

Anne Chevalier - Consultant
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