By Holly Behl
Have you ever been asked to translate a document full of acronyms, and had to spend hours doing research and emailing with your client to figure out what the acronyms mean? Have you wished you could talk with the authors of your source text about those little writing habits that make translation more difficult and expensive?
Last week, Steven Marzuola, a technical translator from Houston, visited Dallas to address some of the very people who author documents destined for translation in his specialty field, at a meeting of the North Texas chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
Steven and the STC graciously invited MITA members to attend the presentation. Many of the STC attendees have some experience with document translation through their work. They were very engaged with the topic and asked very specific questions throughout the evening. Steven did an excellent job of providing a clear introduction to the translation process, explaining in broad strokes when it is advantageous to hire an agency and when it is better to hire a freelancer, and teaching how translation software aids translation (but does not displace the translator).
Here are some of Steven’s practical tips for documents destined for foreign-language translation:
Provide an acronym/abbreviation table.
- Use standard terminology instead of multiple terms to refer to the same concept.
- Use words instead of symbols. For example, in the U.S. “#” can represent “number,” “pound key on the telephone,” or “pounds (weight).” Don’t make the translator guess.
- Inform the agency/translator who the intended audience is for the translation. For some audiences, it is appropriate to leave certain industry terms in English or to include both languages.
- To ensure quality, consistently hire the same people to do the translation and provide previous translations and style guides.
Holly Behl is a Master-Licensed Court Interpreter, Spanish>English translator, and owner of Preciso Language Services in Dallas, Texas. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter at @hbehl.