Successful Document Translation

by Ed Langley
(Leeds, UK)

Document translation is extremely important as it is central to the smooth running of international business. Many translated documents carried out by companies unaware of how to approach document translation are littered with errors. Businesses who rely on these services should be sure to inform themselves of the potential challenges of document translation. This way they can be sure that they choose the right translation company in which to invest and avoid any damage to their brand. There are two main elements involved in the translation process and either could be the source of problems - the source text (original document) and the translator. But what kind of issues could come up?

The Source Text

Languages change over time and certain phrases can be almost impossible express in another language. Many texts feature unique concepts/phrases which are central to the meaning of the source text. If these concepts are poorly phrased in the original document, they could be misunderstood or be overlooked by the translator. It is essential to ensure that the source text is clear and well written before it is sent to a translator.

The most effective way to do this is to make sure that the document adheres to structural, stylistic and grammatical conventions. It is common for the customer to provide the translator/translation company with translation notes and a glossary of the most important words in the text. This means that the translator can be sure of how to interpret the source text and the document translation can proceed smoothly.

The Translator

A translator is a person who converts written language in one language into another - a simple idea, but a task often thwarted with problems due to the complicated nature of the art. Translation demands somebody with cultural familiarity, training and where appropriate sector-specific experience. The individual should know the relevant vocabulary, particularly
if it is a technical document. A niche business may find it harder to source a translator with the right experience, but it is always better to wait until the right person is found. This way you can be sure that your documents will be correctly translated. Translation agencies will often bend over backwards to find the right translator for you, as they can charge more for the service, a service, which with the right agency is well worth paying for.

The business submitting the document must understand the market to which they are exposing their brand. This is a branding issue and should involve a significant amount of research into the target market - it's a very good idea to know how your brand translates into another language and therefore another culture. This can help you work alongside the translator, as he or she will most likely be a native speaker of the target language. If you can be sensitive to their language and culture, you can be sure to foster a positive working relationship with them.

Document translation is potentially a minefield. Getting the right advice and knowing how to brand your product will help you choose an appropriate way of wording your source text in preparation for translation. It is vital to find the right person for the job. Don't hesitate to ask your chosen translation company about the credentials of your assigned translator and don't go for the cheapest option and be prepared to wait for the best qualified and most experienced translator. The quality of document translation can be the difference between the success and failure of your business in the international market, but good planning and carefully considered decisions will result in well translated documents, suitable for their purpose.

This is a guest post written by Ed Langley on behalf of Codex Global Document Translation.

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