When you come to translate a document for any purpose, there are many things you should consider, but here is a pick of the top ten:
Determine the length of the document. Many services charge by the word. Other services provide a free document translation up to a certain word count. These services encourage the author to edit his document judiciously.
Determine the accuracy requirement of the document. A letter to a pen pal can contain a few translation errors without losing its meaning. Free online document translation services will suit this need. Alternatively, one could find a friend in the community who is fluent in the required language as well as in English to translate the letter. However, legal documents and government documents require a high degree of accuracy. A certified document translation provides a guarantee that the document reads the same way in English as it does in any other language.
Avoid using slang or idiomatic expressions. Some concepts simply do not translate well into other languages. Cultural references, jokes, and puns lose their meaning when translated into a language that does not have the same cultural frame of reference.
Create a glossary of terms. Certain terms are common to certain industries. The translator may or may not be familiar with these terms. One should bear in mind that translation is not a one-to-one process. One word in English may require an entire phrase in another language. When one provides a glossary of the terms used in the document, he ensures that the translator captures the exact nuance of the document.
Use symbols that are universal. If the document translation requires symbols, ensure that they are clearly understood in all languages. For example, a red octagon with white lettering or symbols denotes “Stop” in most countries. However, Japan uses an upside-down triangle, and Zimbabwe uses a circle that contains a black cross.
Provide external links to graphics whenever possible. Embedded graphics are costly to translate within a document. Periodically, such graphics do not translate at all. An external link will always translate, and it is easier to change the graphic when necessary.
Compress the document. When a document is compressed, its fonts and styles are preserved. Compression also preserves the document’s format. This increased accuracy results in a more accurate document translation.
Send explicit instructions with the file. One should never assume that a translator is also a mind reader. Include specific instructions such as the exact scope of the translation, the specific language (Mandarin Chinese versus Cantonese), and any other pertinent information.
Find an expert in the selected topic. If one needs to translate a legal document, he should contact a translator who specializes in legal documents. If one needs to translate a medical document, he should contact a translator who specializes in medical documents. Familiarity with the topic leads to an accurate document translation.
Carefully review the price quotation. Does the document need to be translated into several different languages? Ask if the translator offers a price break for multiple translations of the same document. Ensure that the document translation includes everything that needs to be done to the document in order to ensure its usability.
If you follow the advice of these top ten tips, you can insure your document translation goes without a hitch!
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