Top tips for managing translations (part 2)

Continuing from last week’s blog post, one of our most experienced language specialists at Saffron has put together another five top tips to help avoid your e-learning projects getting lost in translation!

1. Is the translator qualified?

There are too many people out there who speak several languages and advertise themselves as translators. If you’re looking for quality, check whether they’re registered with a professional body. Do they have a university education in the foreign language(s) they claim to be proficient in? At least if they’re certified or qualified in some respect you can be ensured that they have high standards and a strong sense of ethos.

2. Does the translator have relevant experience?

Choose someone whose previous experience is relevant to what you need. For instance, if you need to translate a course about security at work on a boat construction site, a translator with an understanding of engineering terminology would be most suitable. If, however, your next project is about turning a particularly difficult piece of legislation into an interactive course available to all employees within an organisation, you should look for someone experienced in translating creative writing.

3. Localise (not localize!) the language

Make sure your translator understands the local culture and language of the learner. An English course for a British audience may use different terminology and idioms than a course designed for an Australian or American audience. And the same applies for other languages such as French and Portuguese!

4. Respect the course’s original style

As well as defining the learner, also take care in briefing the translator about the tone and style of the course. It’s a waste of time writing high quality English content for a course that’ll be translated into six languages if that isn’t also reflected in the alternative languages.

5. Get straight to the point

Have you ever noticed how the English section of an instruction manual comprises less space than other languages? So do bear in mind that most translations from English will usually contain at least 30% (or even 50%) more words, and that those words may be longer than in the original text. (Consider that speed limit in English can be translated as Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung in German!)

As parts 1 and 2 of my tips should impress on readers, it takes much more than a dictionary to be a good translator and translators are not made overnight. Stay tuned for part 3 of my translation tips!