10 things translators won't tell you but you really need to know

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Facilitated by Dwayne Bailey

Session Description

Have you ever had something translated? How did you know the translation where any good?

Are you planning to have something translated? How will you ensure that it is of adequate quality?

There are things that you can do to help ensure that your translations aren't an embarrassment. Very few translators will communicate these to you. But we'll give you some of these tools.

This session will be exploring what can go wrong. I'll share horror stories from Translate.org.za and of course we'd like to hear your horror stories and your concerns. We'll explore how you can prevent those from happening to you again.

Session Notes

  • We started with horror stories
  • For those that have done translations, how have you engaged with translators?
    • Existing community
    • Launchpad
      • I found it hard to thank people
    • Internal staff at the organization
  • "The translation brief"
    • We were working with translators that had no idea what the content was
    • Audience
    • Level of sophistication
    • Key terminology
      • "Observation" in a medical situation is different than general usage
    • You can request to remove all idioms
  • 5 strategies
    • Find the right word
    • Describe the idiom
    • Remove it
    • Sometimes this doesn't work in software
  • Do a lot of work to write in a translatable way. Don't write / speak with idioms
  • Interpretation vs. translation
    • translation with domain knowledge
    • Idiom friendly
    • Translate cultural meaning
  • Translating OpenOffice
    • 3 translators used 3 different words for spreadsheet
  • Machine translation
    • There are two components to machine translation. One is that it works, one is that it doesn't
    • You can get the gist. If it's not core content
    • Google translate pivots through english
      • Even though dutch and Afrikaans are really close, google translate will go through english first
    • Can google translate give translators a head start?
      • It can help you find a word you're not familiar with
      • But it often switches grammar
      • For good translators, it can often slow them down
  • Just like professions have specialized language and syntax in english, that is true in other languages as well
  • Translators use CAT tools (computer assisted translation)
    • Translation memory
    • Replaceables
    • These are the development environment for translators
      • Tell you that it thinks you've translated it before
    • Proprietary
      • Trados
      • Wordfast
    • Open source
      • OMEGAT
      • Virtaal
      • Launchpad
      • Pootle
      • Transifex
    • Worldwide lexicon is another tool but I'm not sure where to categorize it
  • Translating code
    • It would be really helpful to tell translators what are in variables in the code. It may matter in other languages
    • It can be a problem where translators translate variable names
  • Some standard file types
    • po
    • xliff
  • I've found that it's really helpful to see a dev site with your translation on it. It can help you see it in context
  • When giving your translator strings to translate, don't sort strings alphabetically. Context is important.
  • Your community is your most powerful group
    • The people that actually use your software are the best translators
  • There is a strong feeling among translators that you only translate into your mother tongue.
  • Programmers are the worst translators. They aren't great at talking even in their native language.
  • Deciding what languages to translate into can be decision
  • If you are dealing with related languages (Dutch and Afrikaans), it can be helpful to provide an existing translation
  • Poets are great translators. But translating poetry is really hard.
  • Uppercase letters are a problem
    • No other language has title case
    • You should explain it in the brief
  • Programmers love creating generic things (like error messages). But translators hate it, and they have tools to help them doing repetitive things so they don't care anyway.


Summary

  • "The translation brief" can be an important and powerful document. Just like a project brief but for the translators.
  • You can make your content easier to translate by not using idioms. Or point them out in a terminology list.
  • "In context review." It can be really helpful to see a dev site with your translation on it.
  • There is a strong feeling among translators that you only translate into your mother tongue.
  • Programmers are the worst translators. They aren't great at talking to people even in their native language.
  • Programmers love creating generic things (like error messages with variables). But translators hate it because they loose context. They have tools to help them doing repetitive things so they don't care anyway.