Providing Reference Files for Translations

Posted on Posted in Interesting translaton topics, Saving money on translations, Translation quality

Even if a translator knows the field of specialization very well, it can still be advantageous to provide reference files, as it can drastically improve the quality of your translation as well as minimize risk during a translation project.

Reference files can include:

  1. Old translations or translation memories
  2. Related documentation
  3. Original document formats
  4. Pictures, screenshots and/or illustrations
  5. Terminology lists

Let us discuss these different types of reference files in turn:

Old translations or translation memories

Providing old translations can be very helpful to a translator; just make sure that you as the customer are also pleased with the translation before providing an old translation as a reference.

The most efficient way of doing this would be to provide the original source and target documents in a readable format (i.e.not scanned or in PDF). In this way, the translator can make a translation memory by means of alignment. This process entails pairing the source and target texts together for them to be recalled in the case that they occur again within a translation at hand. Please see the article postings on translation memory for more information.  If you do have a translation memory that has been created from translations that you like, do not shy away on giving this to the translator on account of the fact that you will not only improve the quality and consistency of the translation, but might even get a hefty discount depending on how related the translation at hand may be.

If the original translation is not available, an old translation that is in an unreadable can still be of help for searching for terminology and ascertaining information regarding purpose, the desired register, or writing style.

Related documentation

If you have any documents or texts that may be somehow related to the translation, it is generally a good idea to send these to the translator since this information may help the translator determine relative factors with regard to style, terminology or the purpose(s) of the translation. Related documentation may include other documents within the same project (even if they are not required for translation), presentations, brochures or even websites based on the same subject matter. Websites, especially bilingual ones, can be an invaluable resource for a translation to determine your company’s specific terminology or help to identify risks that can be reduced even before the translation process begins.

Original document formats

Many times, customers will send a word document to a translation office for translation, whereby the final translated texts are actually intended to be added to an Indesign file or a website. If this is the case, make sure to provide the original Indesign file in PDF or the name of the website. Being able to visualize the respective format and refer to it in times of question help to improve the quality and accuracy of the translation at hand. From a linguistic aspect, providing original documentation aids the translator in determining the exact context of what is being translated.

You may also like to ask your language service provider (LSP) if they will perform the translation directly in the original file. Do not forget that HTML documents and IDML documents can also be translated directly. Even though this is sometimes associated with extra effort, it can save hours of graphic work.

Pictures, screenshots and/or illustrations

Providing pictures, illustrations and screenshots, especially for software and technical translations, can make the difference between a great translation and a completely unusable one.  Illustrations and pictures can help translators to gain an understanding of every aspect of a certain machine, device, or software application. With regard to software translation in particular, many individuals fail to realize that if the translation involves terminology which has already been translated within the application, screenshots of this application are essential so that the translation matches up with what has been illustrated. Furthermore, the illustrations also promote the translators imagination, steering them into the right direction with regard to the subject matter and context. This will definitely improve your translation.

Terminology lists

Providing a list in Excel format of how you would like to have a specific terms translated can help the translator a great deal. It will also improve the consistency of your translations and support your endeavors to receive a translation that has been performed according to your own terminology preferences and requirements. Please see other articles on this blog on terminology for more details.

All in all, with regard to reference files in general, this list of examples is not exhaustive by any means. A reference file is anything at all that might help the translator to visualize and understand the topic at hand.  So, when providing reference files, don’t shy away from being as creative as possible. It may help you in ways that you are not aware of.

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