How to Localise Keywords: tips and tricks for effective keyword localisation

How to Localise Keywords: 3 Basic Steps

Tips for effective keyword localisation

To localise keywords effectively, follow three basic stages: translation, adaptation, supplementing and testing. If you have a list of well-performing keywords, you need to complete four main tasks to make your list work in other languages:

  1. Translate keywords correctly.
  2. Localise keywords: adapt them to a new region (taking language, cultural and other differences into account)
  3. Search and add new keywords relevant to the local market like trends, events, etc.
  4. Test the new keywords in search engines and add them to the localised texts.

In its online training on digital marketing, Google underlines that you need a proper translation—and localisation—to overcome language barriers and communicate your ideas and offers. To make local feel like ‘you speak their language’, Google strongly advises in favour of using professional services.

Automated translation is rarely 100% fluent and accurate. Free tool might be tempting but Google penalises websites which use Google Translate for their multilingual pages. The reason is simple: they are considered to be low quality content not meeting user needs.

Google’s recommendations can be fully applied to localise keywords. As the cornerstone for both organic traffic and paid online advertising, keywords have two main functions:

  • to ensure correct content indexing by search engines;
  • to encourage user actions with search results.

The closer is a keyword variation to a user’s search query, the higher are the chances that the search engine sees the content as relevant and puts in the first page of search results. Obviously, this means a user is more likely to click your link.

It’s impossible to achieve highly relevant search results if keywords are simply translated. Yes, they will still be relevant and meaningful for a user reading the content. But search engines have different criteria for relevancy.

1. Correct translation

Context is translators’ favourite word. And context is even more important for localising keywords as you should specify the exact word meaning.

How would you translate ‘slicer’, ‘imaging’ or ‘support’? And if I told you these were 3D related terms? When translating keywords, it is vital to explain what they mean in a given context, give links to the pages with the keywords or at least explain what the pages are about.

The translator should understand the tasks that have been set when creating a keyword list. In this case, they might be able to add other variants based on typical local search queries.

2. Keyword adaptation

Ideally, localised keywords should match actual search terms and queries. Depending on a country, region or target audience, these search queries can differ significantly from terms which have been translated directly.

After adaptation, you may get two synonyms in the target language instead of one source word or a long-tail keyword (phrase) if it correlates to terms online users enter when searching.

Next, the list of translated keywords is analysed for search engine relevance. Search term frequency and related variants are the main things to pay attention to. Based on analysis results, you then correct and amend the list.

Tools for keyword analysis:

Google Keyword Planner is the easiest option (requires a Google AdWords account).

Yandex’s Keyword Statistics and Serpstat are Russian online services targeted at the Russian-speaking segment of the web.

3. Testing and diagnostics

The first round of keyword testing takes place during the adaptation. For each keyword, all the above-mentioned tools offer an approximate number of search queries. Please note that does not mean you should neglect testing the final keywords variants in main search systems. This covers keywords both for content creation and social media posting.

Use the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool to check competition for the most important keywords. The index (from 1% to 100%) shows you how difficult it is to outperform your competitors for the planned keywords and keyphrases. A low-frequency long tail keyword has more chances of getting to the first search page when it matches the search term.

In search engines, the quality rating for each keyword depends not only on competitors. The relevance and quality of a corresponding landing page is another component. That means localised keywords should be highly relevant to the content of the landing page.

Anywhere else to use keywords?

Meta descriptions

The text summarising a page’s content in search results. Web surfers are more likely to click an offered link if they notice the keywords from their search queries (or closely related terms).

Note: Recently, Google announced that their search engine now supports meta descriptions up to 320 symbols long. Still, many prefer the good old fashioned 160-symbol metas, just to be on the safe side.

Headings

The first thing you notice when you examine search results is a page title or a heading. If a heading matches a keyword or a keyphrase, the search engine sees the content as relevant and shows it higher in search results. If a heading fails to describe the content accurately, the search engine gives fewer points to the page.

Note: A good heading is accurate, engaging and a bit provoking. It communicates the idea behind the target page in a clear and concise way.

URL address

Sometimes, page URLs are localised, too. For Russian language, it means transliteration. If you add a long-tail keyword to your URL, be careful not to make it too long (3 to 5 words max).

Note: According to Google, keywords in URLs do not have a strong impact on your SEO.

Alt tags

Search systems cannot ‘see’ images. Instead, they look for image descriptions in <alt> tags. During localisation, it is better to translate image descriptions and add keywords to them as it makes the page content more relevant to search terms containing matching and related keywords.

Note: An average image description should be not less than 3 to 4 words (250 symbols or more), with only one of them being the keyword.

“If you’re growing into an area that primarily speaks another language you’ll need to translate your site. And it’s probably best to have it done by a native speaker – rather than an automated translation service.

But simply translating content might not be enough. Words and phrases that work in an Italian market may not resonate with a French audience. Localisation is the process that makes locals feel like you “speak their language”.

It seems like a fair bit to think about…but there are many companies and freelancers out there who specialise in exactly this type of work.”

Google Digital Garage

More questions on keyword localisation? Feel free to send them to info @ just-translate.it.com

Translation Quality Style Guides

Translation Quality 101. Part 3

The whys and hows of a style guide

This is the third part of Translation Quality 101 series. Part 1. Source materials for translation. Part 2. Terminology management.

You may think that style guides describing language recommendations and stylistic nuances are for global companies and thriving publishing houses only. Want to think again?

Your translator will appreciate even a short and simple instruction especially if it is combined with a glossary and reference materials.

When the translator knows for sure what are the company’s preferred terms and style the task will be completed faster.

Please note that if carefully prepared and regularly updated, a style guide is a key to increasing the quality of translations and the effectiveness of published materials.

WHAT IS A STYLE GUIDE?

A style guide is a list of defined requirements—sometimes a very short one—that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer.

To make your guide easier to use, consider a two-part structure. The first part could be regular and valid for all translation tasks, and the part second could be variable and project-related.

Feel free to include a brief description of your company, its products and services, main goals and tasks in the regular part. Other possible options are:

  • Target market (country, industry, competitors)
  • Language style: clear, academic, technical, etc.
  • Forbidden words and terms
  • Non-translated words and phrases
  • Non-standard abbreviations
  • Formatting and typography (fonts, phone numbers, etc.)

The changing part is valid for a current translation project only:

  • Document type: a promo leaflet, press release, website update, etc.
  • Target audience: age, social, occupation, etc.
  • Aim of the document: branding and image, customer information (for sales team, for marketing team, etc.)
  • Tone: formal, informal, neutral
  • In focus: information or style; close proximity to the original or adaptation for better engagement.

WHY A STYLE GUIDE?

Expectations and preferences approved beforehand help maintain the consistent tone and language improving the company’s image.

When presented with a style guide, the translator needs less time for research and reference reading, so the material is delivered quicker. Moreover, knowing the target audience (an ideal reader or website visitor), your translator will be able to choose proper style and language.

No extra round of inner corrections and approvals means further time savings for the customer.

When developing a style guide, pay special attention to the document structure. Nobody is going to use a guide if it is too complex or overloaded with information (even with the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ in large, friendly letters on the cover). Leave out rules and recommendations that are well-known to any professional translator or a linguist. If the document has many pages, consider adding a table of content with links.

WHO CREATES A STYLE GUIDE?

Too often translation customers underestimate the importance of clear instructions and rules. But a proper style guide can be created only through their intensive engagement. The customer is providing reference materials, notes, and information. Clearly, it’s up to the customer to define the desired audience and the message.

McLean’s Maxim: There are only two problems with people. One is that they don’t think. The other is that they do. There will be always someone (an employee or a subcontractor) who tries to ignore the style guide no matter how clear and simple it is. To keep such cases to an absolute minimum, (a) update your style guide consistently; (b) make it easily accessible to all interested stakeholders.

If no style guide is available, the translator and the reviewer can create a version of their own. It could be as simple as that:

Style Sheet Example

WHEN IS A STYLE GUIDE CREATED?

Data collection, style guide updates and edits should be handled by one person. For a light start, create a list of names, persons, titles, terms, abbreviations that are already present in the company’s documents. Common mistakes and translation-related questions can be added to the style guide later.

If you are a translator pondering over a style guide, the best time to create one is when you are starting your cooperation with a new customer. You can update the document when the customer sends you edits or comments explaining certain standards or undesirable terms.

Improvise! The introduction to the style guide by The Economist begins with six elementary rules formulated by George Orwell.

1 Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2 Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3 If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
4 Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
5 Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6 Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

SOME USEFUL LINKS

– An open guide to preferred National Geographic style and usage: http://stylemanual.natgeo.com/

– Microsoft Style Guides: https://www.microsoft.com/Language/en-US/StyleGuides.aspx

– Facebook Language Style Guides in 72 languages: https://www.facebook.com/translations/style_guides

Terminology management

Translation Quality 101. Part 2

Terminology management

This is the second part of Translation Quality 101 series.

Part 1. Source materials for translation. Part 3. Style guides.

ISO 1087-1 (2000) defines the term as a “verbal designation of a general concept in a specific subject field.” Some terms consist of more than one word. These terms are called multiword terms or compounds.

At present, terms are the most flexible part of the vocabulary. The terminology is the first to face shifts in the lexical system including designation methods.

TIS BUT MY TERM THAT IS MY ENEMY

Are the terms that much important when translating corporate communications and materials? According to TermNet, 80% of mistakes in translation relate to term usage. A recent survey conducted by SDL showed that correct and consistent term usage remained one of the major challenges for translation buyers. 48% of respondents mentioned inconsistency in terminology among issues with translation quality.

Global businesses and corporations tend to choose a coordinated approach to terminology management. They devise policies, hold terminology bases with metadata, create reference materials.

Product managers, engineers and developers, marketing teams, technical writers and translators are all get involved in terminology management here.

But even a small Excel database helps improve translation quality, prevent unnecessary questions and clarify doubts, and speed up the work for writers and translators.

In-house term management should always correlate with job responsibilities. Who provides the data? Who approves terminology? What are the areas of responsibility? The first stage is to determine the aims and objectives of terminology management, the target audience (or audiences), and the scope of communication covered.

Three steps for an efficient terminology management include: creation – approval – usage.

TERM CREATION

The life cycle of a term includes: request, approval, discussion, description, translation, editing. When devising the procedures, it is recommended to find an easy and convenient way to make requests, to discuss terms, to approve definitions and translations.

Possible key stakeholders are the company’s technicians, industry experts, branches and local offices, local and foreign partners, linguists and translators.

ISO’s criteria for the selection and formation of terms are transparency, consistency, appropriateness, linguistic economy, derivability, linguistic correctness, and preference for native language. Full definitions for each criterion are covered in the ISO standard 704 “Terminology work — Principles and methods.”

  1. Transparency

A term or appellation is considered transparent when the concept it designates can be inferred, at least partially, without a definition or an explanation. In other words, the meaning of a term or appellation can be deduced from its parts.

  1. Consistency

The terminology of any subject field should not be an arbitrary and random collection of terms, but rather a coherent terminological system corresponding to the concept system. Existing terms and appellations and neoterms and appellations must integrate into and be consistent with the concept system.

  1. Appropriateness

Proposed terms and appellations should adhere to familiar, established patterns of meaning within a language community. Formations that cause confusion should be avoided. Terms should be as neutral as possible. They should avoid distracting connotations, especially negative ones.

  1. Linguistic economy

A term should be as concise as possible. Undue length is a serious shortcoming. It violates the principle of linguistic economy and it frequently leads to ellipsis (omission).

  1. Derivability and compoundability

Productive term formations that allow derivatives and compounds (according to whatever conventions prevail in an individual language) should be favoured.

  1. Linguistic correctness

When neoterms or appellations are coined, they should conform to the morphological, morphosyntactic, and phonological norms of the language in question.

  1. Preference for native language

Even though borrowing from other languages is an accepted form of term formation, native-language expressions should be given preference over direct loans.

In Russian these principles are прозрачность, последовательность, адекватность, лингвистическая экономия, выводимость и сочлененность, лингвистическая корректность, предпочтение родного языка, according to GOST R ISO 704-2010 currently in use.

Basic rules applied to formation of terms and appellations:

  • For a standardized terminology, it is desirable that a term be attributed to a single concept.
  • Before creating a neoterm, it is necessary to ascertain whether a term already exists for the concept in question.
  • Well-established usage has to be respected.
  • Established and widely used designations, even if they are poorly formed or poorly motivated, should not be changed unless there are compelling reasons.
  • If several designations exist for a single concept, the one that satisfies the largest number of principles listed below shall be selected as the preferred designation.

APPROVAL OF TERMS

Terminology work requires regular analysis, documentation, storage and distribution of terminology data. A terminology base (term base) is the most common way to collect, document, and control terms.
 
Before creating a term base, it should be clear who handles coining and approval of terms and who is going to use the base (including outer stakeholders like translators, business partners, and end users).
 
In terms of translation quality, the key task of a term base is to show preferable (recommended), possible and rejected (forbidden) terms.
 
When managing terms at a corporate level, it is advisable to cover all words and phrases important for your business. Do not limit yourself to terms that belong to a sublanguage in a specific subject field. If a word is being used in marketing collateral, it should have an approved, consistent  translation.
 
It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare definitions and descriptions for concepts in a term base. Therefore, it’s perfectly ok to include definitions only for terms absent in standard dictionaries, acronyms, abbreviations, and proper names (corporate units, products, etc.). Pay greater attention to known usage issues and to entries with preferable and rejected variants of translation.
 
An approved term base backed by a solid terminology policy will be a first step to efficient handling of terms at a corporate level.

TERMINOLOGY USAGE

To start using correct terminology you need a team that shares your values. Terminology management is successful only when every company employee contributes to preparing and updating the termbase or keeps using it.

A well-managed, standartised terminology develops into higher quality collaterals and technical documents, lower research and lookup time. Materials aimed at a certain target audience enjoy correct terms. The lower risk of misunderstanding brings better customer satisfaction and improves retention rate. The audience is no longer exposed to unclear abbreviations and jargon. Moreover, a comprehensive term base containing definitions is a way to transfer knowledge capital accumulated by employees.

But if terminology management is neglected, everybody is free to choose terms to their liking. Inconsistent terminology looks unprofessional at best. Moreover, it means potential problems with product usage. As a result, texts will be re-edited later with even more time and effort invested.

All in all, terminology is a key to efficient publications and documents, better corporate image and visibility, and higher quality documents including the translated ones.

WHERE TO START

  1. Analyse your goals: Why do you need terminology management? What are you planning to implement, improve, or prevent?
  2. Check collections of terms that you already have: size, format, languages, quality, sources.
  3. Approve a format for your custom term bases: definition, sphere of usage, source, picture, notes on usage, etc.
  4. Agree on priorities: the most important projects, texts, languages, etc.
  5. Create a path toward implementation involving inner resources and/or outer partners. If you choose to rely on your own resources check if your employees are competent enough.
  6. Draw a plan: who does what, when and how.
  7. Go on with a pilot project: a certain product or a service, small budget and scope of tasks.
  8. Be prepared to regular activities; your goal is not a single error-free message.

ADDITIONAL LINKS AND DOCUMENTS

Translation quality basics

Translation Quality 101

Part 1. Source materials for translation

During this year, I was reconsidering my translation workflows and procedures. The whole thing led to a series of posts on ensuring translation quality for my Russian blog.

Part 2. Terminology management. Part 3. Style guides.

Why do I have to care?

Demands related to translation quality will often vary even inside a company. People who work with translations need quality. People who pay translation invoices look for a bargain.

How can a company come to know that translations of its marketing materials are not up to the mark? The customers may say they are not. I wouldn’t call that situation a pleasant one, would you?

Customer service departments may act as another feedback channel. A poorly translated instruction may lead to more calls from end users. Besides, many companies tend to track user reaction. For them, social media, forums, and communities are a valuable information source.

Ways and methods to ensure translation quality have been summarised many times before. Look into terminology work, style guides, quality assurance software, translation memory usage.

But many customers completely ignore them to speed up the workflow or to ‘optimise costs’. To focus on technical issues paying less attention to the content is another extreme. For marketing materials, it’s unacceptable.

Can you guarantee a generally high quality of marketing translations? If yes, how do you ensure that? We’ll analyse the process step by step.

Pull up the quality of source materials

For a translated text to become an efficient part of a marketing campaign, one should take into consideration the audience and the scale, communication channels, campaign success criteria, etc.

But what’s the key factor? To my mind, it’s the quality of the texts planned for translation. To make an excellent product, the translator is to get an excellent material to work with. In translation, high-quality input is a prerequisite for high-quality output.

Some criteria of a high-quality (i.e. efficient) marketing text:

  • It engages. If a text does not evoke interest, why read it? Marketing materials failing to resonate with your audience fail to convert and sell, too. It’s true for both technical press releases and hot vacation offers. At the same time, consumer preferences tend to differ from ideas offered by marketing teams.
  • It’s created for people. A message for a target audience and a demographic market? Or an open communication with your reader? The less your materials resemble advertising, the more convincing they are.
  • It’s short. An average reader now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Get rid of informational noise and do not try to sell everything at once. Shape and trim extras, and you will see the results.
  • It’s simple. Strange as it may sound, choose shorter words and sentences to make people believe you are an expert. “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well… Everything should be as simple as it can be, yet no simpler.” Albert Einstein
  • It’s useful. Prepare a product review. Offer best practices for optimising workflows. Show great results that your client get. Stick to facts.
  • It’s realistic. Avoid picturing a perfect company offering perfect products. Add a couple of small issues to make the material more real-world-like.

When the original leaves much to be desired, please, notify your translator in advance. Agree on how to deal with possible issues and how far the translator can go in adapting the text.

If you are not happy with the material offered for translation, chances are your audience wouldn’t be thrilled, either. Perhaps, it’s better to find some roundabouts: adaptation, reference translation, creating content locally, etc.

Take the translator into account

Well-managed translation workflow resembles a faultless, well-oiled mechanism. The problem is one seldom considers translation while creating content.

According to a recent report, 48% of US marketers had no budget at all for translation abroad. 59% of respondent lacked money allocated for reaching multilingual customers within the US. And only 15% of marketers said they were confident that their messages were resonating with international customers.

Long, intricate sentences, idioms and jargon are a good touch to a novel, but not to a news release. Add clichés to them, and your checklist of surefire translation killers is ready.

Misprints, vague phrases, inconsistent terms mean potential mistakes in future translations. Prepare for the second cycle of editing and proofreading (with additional time and budget).

If you plan to translate your marketing content, remember the following.

  • Stay away from abbreviations and jargon where possible
  • Make your writing clear and concise
  • Avoid ambiguity
  • Think globally as each language and culture have their own peculiarities

Track and provide feedback

The marketing translator is no less than a co-author of your materials. A text, which is clear, though poorly written, may be improved, but it takes time and effort.

Were the marketing tasks addressed efficiently before the translation took place? And after the translation? Sometimes, the analysis of a source text shows that the translator made their best. A perfect localised material is a teamwork result.

In case you doubt the translation quality, find an expert for a review and assessment.

  • Do not choose the translator of the text as a reviewer
  • Do not tell the reviewer who made the translation. What you need is an open-minded approach
  • Look into the translation workflow. Perhaps, it’s a failure of a supervising manager and not of a translator

Have you tried to get through with a tight budget and got an unacceptable result? Analyse and draw your conclusions.

Marketing texts, image collaterals, and legal documents are to be translated by experts. Otherwise, losses can be far greater than gains.

Translation terms

Translation Terms

A short guide for translation buyers

A translation cookbook for those who are unaware of such subtleties and details. By “translation” we mean both the process and its result.

Key terms related to the work of linguists and translators are listed here with some useful links. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The terms listed below are for general reference only. The list is being constantly updated with new terms and useful links. Feel free to add your ideas, remarks, terms or questions in the comments below or email me. The Russian version of the glossary can be found here.

Use Ctrl+F to search for specific terms.

ADAPTATION

Modifying the source text in order to produce the translation which conforms to the needs of a target language audience (pragmatic adaptation).

Marketing and media materials should be adapted if your purpose is to engage your audience and communicate your message.

Stylistic adaptation helps overcome cultural incompatibilities that stand in the way of communicating the meaning of the original. The translator takes into account stylistic preferences of the client, the target culture, and the tasks the translated text should fulfil.

See also Marketing translation.

AUTOMATED TRANSLATION

See Machine Translation.

BACK TRANSLATION

Translating a text that has already been translated into a foreign language back into the original language, preferably by an independent translator. Sometimes back translation can be used to observe conceptual and cultural correspondence and/or to compare original and translated texts (for example, in transcreation).

BRAND NAME EVALUATION

Analysis of brand names is used to assess a name or a tagline against social, sensory and/or legal criteria of a foreign market. Language and cultural differences may add an unexpected meaning to a well-intended name.

CHECKING (translation)

According to standard translation procedures, the person who translates checks the completed work for omissions, misprints, and errors (proofreads the text). The translator makes the necessary amendments to ensure that the meaning has been conveyed and service specifications are met. But even the best translator needs ‘the second pair of eyes’: an editor and/or a proofreader.

Numerous terms describing the checking process further complicate negotiation of the checking process between the translator and the translation buyer. Apparently, attention should be paid when discussing the checking and revision workflow.

The translation buyer should be clear about the final quality they expect and the services covered by the agreement: translation only (for further revision by in-house experts); translation and editing (the text ready for publication); translation, editing, and proofreading (the text ready for publication with final proofreading of the layout).

See also Editing, Proofreading, Post-Editing, Revision, Standards.

COMPETENCIES (of a translator)

A set of skills that makes it possible for a translator to achieve the most equivalent translation in relation to the original text.

ISO 17100:2015 defines the following professional competencies of translators:

– Translation competence. The ability to address the problems of language content comprehension and to render the target language content
– Linguistic and textual competence. The ability to understand the source and to apply this knowledge when producing translation
– Competence in research, information acquisition, and processing. The ability to efficiently acquire the additional linguistic and specialised knowledge
– Cultural competence. Ability to make use of information on the behavioural standards, up-to-date terminology, value systems, and locale for source and target language cultures
– Technical competence. The knowledge, abilities, and skills required to perform the technical tasks in the translation process
– Domain competence. The ability to understand content produced in the source language and to reproduce it in the target language using the appropriate style and terminology

COMPUTER-AIDED TRANSLATION

(Also computer-assisted translation, CAT) A form of translation in which a human translator uses computer software. (Not to be confused with automated machine translation.) CAT software is only a supplementary tool used to facilitate and support the translation process. CATs do not replace the translator but help them improve quality and efficiency by checking the consistency of terminology and style.

CAT software includes a comprehensive list of tools for:

– Spelling, grammar, formatting checks
– Terminology management
– Words and phrases lookup in databases and translation memory files
– Project management

See also Machine Translation, Translation Memory.

CONTENT CURATION (service)

The process of gathering and sorting information on the web relevant to a particular topic. The information is then arranged and translated if needed to present it in a meaningful way and publish online via corporate blogs, social media accounts, etc. Content curation services can be used both by businesses and end users.

COPYWRITING

Creating original written content for online or traditional printed media. Copies usually contain straightforward or hidden promotion and are used for persuasion in advertising as well as for raising brand awareness in marketing. Not to be confused with the copyright symbol ©.

CORPUS (monolingual)

A structured set of processed texts for checking occurrences or validating linguistic rules. 

Corpora examples:  

– National Russian Corpus: www.ruscorpora.ru
– Corpus of Contemporary American English: corpus.byu.edu/coca
– The British National Corpus: corpus.byu.edu/bnc 

Corpora are also used for creating collocations dictionaries: 

– Free Online Collocations Dictionary by ProWritingAidbit.ly/2EKXkDK 
– The English Collocations Dictionary Onlinewww.ozdic.com 

CORPUS (parallel)

An informational system for context search containing a collection of original electronic texts in two languages. Parallel corpora help to find the translation of words or phrases from Russian or into Russian (although no one guarantees you the accuracy). Some of the popular corpora:

– Linguee: linguee.ru
– Opus: opus.lingfil.uu.se
– Reverso: context.reverso.net
– Glosbe: glosbe.com
– MyMemory: mymemory.translated.net
– TAUS Data Cloud: data-app.taus.net

DESKTOP PUBLISHING (DTP, typesetting)

Creation of page layout from elements: translated and formatted text, headlines, tables, and images. Depending on the original document, DTP is usually carried out in page layout software such as Adobe InDesign or in other packages such as MS Word or PowerPoint. Translated text can expand by as much as 30%, so it is better to let the translator what final document is expected (exactly same layout, possibility to add pages, etc.)

EDITING

Revising and refining the translated text to make it match current language norms and rules as well as to ensure that it is suitable for the purpose.

The editor checks the accuracy and completeness of the translation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, register, style, and formatting.

Editing services in the source or target language not related with a translation include linguistic editing and specialist editing for technical or scientific texts.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

GLOSSARY (creation)

A list of specialised industry terms with definitions or explanations created for a customer or a project.

Glossaries can be used by both in-house and freelance translators to ensure terminology is used correctly and consistently.

INTERPRETATION

(Also interpreting, 1nt) Facilitating of oral communication between users of different languages.

The interpreter converts oral speech in a source language into oral speech in a target language either simultaneously, listening to the speaker and interpreting in real time, or consecutively when the speaker pauses after completing one or two sentences.

LITERAL TRANSLATION

(Also word-for-word translation). A translation that follows the form and the structure of the original text written in the source language.

As a result, the relationship between component parts of a sentence is lost, and the original meaning may become unintelligible.

LITERARY TRANSLATION

Translation of literary works: poetry, plays, novels, short stories, lyrics, etc.

Characteristics of the genre: an artistic image dominates in the text (means of emotional impact are primary, while information is secondary); stylistic nuances depend on who created the original piece, where and when. The purpose of literary translation is to decode and recreate artistic images and style being as equivalent as possible.

LOCALISATION

(Also L10n) Adaptation of a product, software, or document to language, culture and other demanding realities of a target market (locale).

Often: translation of UI, user guides, and additional software files from one language to another. In this case, localisation is a multi-level process requiring the collaboration of programmers, designers, and translators.

MACHINE TRANSLATION

(Also MT) Also automated translation. Translation of a text by specialised software, with no human involvement. MT systems provide different results for various languages performing sometimes better and sometimes worse.

Machine translation may be acceptable for certain tasks provided that creators of original texts stick to ‘primitivisation’ rules. Examples of MT applications include repeated sentences with a primitive structure, large volumes of not-so-important web content (user generated), etc.

See also Post editing.

MARKETING TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of promotional and advertising content: case studies, blog posts, brochures and media publications, newsletters, promo campaigns, etc. Marketing efforts are based on engagement and conveying the message. Obviously, the marketing translation should sound natural and persuasive, with the focus on the target audience and their current trends.

See also Adaptation, Transcreation.

NATIVE SPEAKER

A person who speaks a particular language as their mother tongue.

The native speaker:

  • Learned the language in their childhood
  • Is able to produce fluent, spontaneous discourse
  • Identifies with or is identified by a language community
  • Speaks without a foreign accent

ORIGINAL

A source text that is to be translated into another language.

POST-EDITING

Examination and correction of a machine-generated translation to achieve an acceptable result and ensure that it complies with the laws of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

PROOFREADING (translation)

(1) The final pre-publication revision of a text after it was translated and edited. Or (2) checking of proofs before publishing (EN 15308).

Proofreading involves only one text in the target language and is meant to:

  • Eliminate grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation mistakes and typos
  • Ensure style, terminology, formatting consistency
  • Ensure proper formatting and compliance with publishing standards.

See also Checking translation, Revision.

PURCHASE ORDER (for translation)

A buyer-generated document that authorises a purchase transaction. A purchase order sets forth the descriptions, prices, payment terms, delivery dates, other associated terms and conditions, and identifies a specific service provider. If no prior contract exists, then it is the acceptance of the order by the service provider that forms a contract between the buyer and the service provider.

When preparing a purchase order for translation services, make sure the following options were discussed and agreed:

– Translation aim and purpose: subject area and the type of a text, target audience
– Translation requirements: source text volume (number of words / symbols / standard pages), target language including regional variation, delivery format
– Process steps included: translation, editing or revision, proofreading or all the mentioned options for publication ready quality
– Payment details including payment method and terms

Some optional elements of a translation purchase order can be found in the Template.

REFERENCE MATERIALS

Materials covering the subject area in question, both in source and target languages: glossaries, style guides, term bases, previous versions of source documents or similar translated documents (including translation memory files), website links.

More often than not, companies choose different terminology for their technical documents and for marketing and reference materials. If the translator is aware of such subtleties, it makes life a lot easier both for the translator and for the reviser/reviewer.

REVISION

1) Self-checking: the translator’s own review processes following the draft translation (e.g. proofreading, spellchecking, terminology verification, finding inaccuracies and inconsistencies).

2) According to EN 15308:

  • Examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose
  • Comparing the source and target texts
  • Recommending corrective measures

EN 15308 introduced two terms: reviser and reviewer. The reviser, who works with two languages, examines a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compares the source and target texts, and recommends corrective measures (or corrects the errors).

The reviewer, who has domain competence, carries out a monolingual review to assess the suitability of the final translation for the agreed purpose.

A whole bunch of tasks can be implied when referring to revision or reviewing depending on a real-life workflow, though, from assessing translation quality to correcting grammatical and stylistic errors.

See also Checking translation.

STANDARD PAGE

One standard page corresponds to approx. 1650 characters with spaces (30 lines x 55 characters) or approx. 210 words (30 x 7).

STANDARDS (in the translation industry)

Reference documents describing criteria, methods, processes, practices, and terms related to translation and translation services.

  • In May 2015, ISO 17000:2015 International Standard (Translation services – Requirements for translation services) was published. In fact, it replaced the European EN 15038 translation-services standard, which went into effect on August 1, 2006, and had no further updates.
  • ISO 12616:2002. Translation-oriented terminography
  • ISO 2384 2384:1977. Documentation – Presentation of translations
  • Programmes and plans for ISO standards covering translation, interpreting and related technology.
  • A complete list of international standards that can be considered applicable to the language industry at large is maintained by GALA.

A list of Russian standards, norms, and reference documents applicable to translation can be found in a publication by the Translation Union of Russia (in Russian).

STYLE GUIDE

A list of defined requirements that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer. A style guide may include recommendations on term usage, preferable style and tone, non-translated words and phrases, etc. More on style guides here.

SUMMARY TRANSLATION

A concise and accurate translation of the text containing the essential content, main facts and figures, from 30% to 50% of the original text size.

An ideal variant for content curation and/or for situations where the turnaround time is very short. You can use summaries of newspaper articles, press releases, and other published materials for corporate blogs and news feeds.

TECHNICAL TRANSLATION (service)

Translation of texts which relate to scientific and technological areas: white papers, patents, technical guides, etc. Characteristics of the genre: information as the main aspect of the text (means of emotional impact are almost absent); the vocabulary with numerous terms, general scientific and technical phrases; highly formalised syntax.

Examples of technical translation fields include medicine, legal, banking and finance, IT, etc.

TRANSLATION TEST

One of the tools used to evaluate the translator’s skills. Depending on the agreement between the contractor and the translator, a test translation can be paid or free. In most cases, tests should not be longer than a few hundred words (100–300 words).

TRANSCREATION

(translation + creation) Creative adaptation of an original message, mainly for advertising and marketing materials—mass media publications, promo campaigns and advertising.

Transcreation is meant to recreate a text/message for a given target audience, while attempting to engage the audience in the same way the original text does. Transcreators successfully combine translation and copywriting skills.

TRANSCRIPTION (service)

Converting speech into a written or electronic text document.

Transcription can be combined with translation (after the text was transcribed or in real time).

TRANSLATION

(Also xl8) Conveying meaning or meanings of a text from one language to another as accurately and fully as possible.

For some useful facts about the translation for translation buyers, feel free to study a guide created by American Translators Association.

TRANSLATION MEMORY

(Also TM) A database file that stores previously made translations as segments, which can be sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units.

TRANSLATION RATES

Prices for translation depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Source volume
  • Difficulty of the text
  • Formatting and file types (a PowerPoint presentation, a scanned PDF file, etc)
  • Delivery date
  • Special/additional requirements if any

URGENT TRANSLATION

A project that is meant to be done mainly during a weekend or requires the translation of more than 2000 words per day.

VOLUME (of translation)

One of the key factors defining the price tag for a translation project and turnaround time.

Translation is usually charged per word of source or target text, per line (25 lines per page) or per standard page (250 words). The standard page in Russia corresponds to 1,800 characters with spaces.

Microsoft Word automatically counts the number of words in your document and displays them on the status bar. If you don’t see the word count in the status bar, right-click the status bar and click Word Count. However, this option does not always provide 100% accurate result.

To get the accurate statistics for documents including non-Word formats, try FineCount (free version available) or request a project statistics report from the translator’s CAT tool.

Translator’s Dream Client

Translator’s Dream Client

Afterthoughts on a Facebook discussion

Depending on the target audience and current business plans, every freelancer has a unique picture of ‘the dream client’.

This post on translator’s dream clients was originally published in Russian following a discussion, which took place in a Facebook group.

Actually, it was an attempt to make a list of features and options a freelancing translator would be happy to see in current and potential customers.

Take it or leave it, if you like. Adapt and use to your best interest.

As differentiated as preferences can be, every freelancer is able to name at least some valuable attributes of potential clients. Ideally, this first stage should be followed by figuring out a more considered approach. But even many seasoned translators do not know what they are searching for. In fact, they would be glad to take any project if proposed.

You may say ‘the dream client’ concept sounds somewhat vague and artificial. But your own checklist can be really helpful in avoiding problem clients who turn out to be not cash but problem generators wasting your time and energy.

Unlike office-bound workers, the freelancer is able to choose people for potential cooperation (to a greater or lesser extent.)  A pool of good—and great—clients is a key to enjoying your everyday tasks, continuous professional development and mental health.

I divided into several categories all features and criteria of ‘the dream client’ mentioned during the discussion. It’s up to you to decide, which of them is of the utmost importance and which will be the last to consider.

FINANCE

  • Good rates. No numbers here as a hot discussion considering ‘reasonable’ and ‘trash’ rates is not our topic.
  • Special rates for rush jobs / overnight work / weekend projects, etc.
  • Regular and accurate payments. Mega bonus: you do not need to calculate and double check your output and invoices.
  • Flexible payment variants. At least several additional options added to a standard bank transfer.
  • Bank expenses covered by the client.

EFFICIENCY

  • Most projects cover one specialization area.
  • Originals ready for translation. ‘No’ to poorly scanned PDFs.
  • Convenient software for handling translations; no strange planning / management systems.
  • Official procedures reduced to a minimum: extra paperwork takes time, and time is money.
  • High quality glossaries if any offered.
  • Proper feedback based on the translation provided.

COMMUNICATIONS AND PR

  • The client has formulated reachable goals; translation priorities and tasks are articulated clearly.
  • Competent contact persons. (Nearly) the same team of project managers.
  • Proper support during the translation process: sample translations if any, clear instructions, reference materials, etc.
  • Emails as a default communication method. Phones are for emergency situations only.
  • Quick replies. Meaningful answers to your questions.
  • You name added to the published translation.

FLEXIBILITY

  • Regular predictable projects leaving you enough time for other clients.
  • Reasonable rates for most projects.
  • Possibility to discuss terms of your agreement.
  • Possibility to put off delivery date in some cases.
  • Possibility to reject a job from time to time.
  • Possibility to regulate your workload (often / less often; large / small projects)

Basically, these are the fundamentals to consider. Feel free to apply your own priorities and accents, add or leave out some points taking into account your preferences and goals. And off we go in search of our ‘dream translation client’.

* * *

If you need more points and ideas to draw your Red Carpet Client, try a great presentation of Marta Stelmaszak (Traduemprende translation conference in Madrid). ‘The Ideal Customer Avatar’ section starts from 56:00.

hiring a marketing translator

Hiring a Marketing Translator

Most important points

Prices

No size fits all when it comes to marketing communications and translations. Each project is unique. Sometimes, straight translation is your best choice. Certain tasks require transcreation and adaptation. Even copywriting may come in handy.

The first step is to be clear on what we’re dealing with. Is your project highly technical or creative? Is it general info, a marketing brochure, or a web copy?

My fees start at 80 Euro per 1000 words. But if you ask for a price offer without sending your project for estimation, the final figure may appear to be higher. Moreover, some jobs are charged by hour (not less than X hours and no more than Y) or by complete project.

To get a final cost breakdown, the translator needs to have a look at the document to:

  • See if the subject suits his or her expertise
  • Count total words
  • Consider file format and software needed
  • Consider delivery time
  • Consider special requirements (if any)

All documents will be treated as confidential, even if you choose another service provider.

Deadlines

No freelancer signs on a project without a deadline. Sometimes, translators can set their own deadlines. Other times the work is time sensitive, so the deadline is set by the client. But be realistic. How long did it take to produce the original?

On average, I translate from 1.500 to 2.500 words per day. A technically challenging text may take additional time, if some background research is required. Projects with special formatting including presentations take longer, too.

If your project is broken up into phases, a deadline is assigned to each phase. In case the scope of work changes, the deadline is also subject to change, and vice versa.

I will do my best to meet your needs, but I believe that rush negatively affects quality of work. I don’t like compromising on quality, so the minimum deadline is 24 hours.

Get involved

If you are ready to spend some time and prepare reference materials, chances are high that you will get exactly what you need. Previously created or localized brochures on the same subject, style guides and glossaries, product photos are more than welcome.

To choose appropriate vocabulary and text style, the translator needs to know as much as possible about the context: what the document is, who created it, what are the purposes and the audience. You need different writing styles to make web site content, catalogue descriptions, or media publications work effectively.

In case you cannot offer any background information or reference materials, that’s not a problem. I have years of experience in my specialisations backed by strong research skills. Any vague terminology will be discussed with you to find best possible solutions.

Single Point of Contact

A lifesaver both for the translator and the client. Limiting project communication to one person, whether you are a soloprenuer or a manager in a big firm, you avoid confusion and double work, save time and energy for all parties involved.

An inquisitive translator is actually good for your project. Some technical details can only be cleared by an in-house expert. May be your company uses different terminology for its in-house technical documentation as opposed to marketing materials? Then we’d better discuss your preferences with a person in charge of translation project.

Ideally, the result is examined by a single well educated person, native in a target language and familiar to your business and technologies. If you plan to have several reviewers, they’d better have clear criteria for correcting ‘mistakes.’ Too often, drawbacks and errors in a final translated version appear after reviews on the client’s side.

Editing & Proofreading

By default, the translator performs a basic check for consistent layout, typos and grammatical errors. If you plan to receive a document ready for publication—printing or upload— be sure to inform the translator. In that case you need an editing service.

Editing includes correction of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and sentence structure errors, checking the text layout as well as graph/table/image layout, and checking for style and pitch. In publishing, it’s typically understood that a document after editing still needs to be proofread. The proofreader reviews spelling and punctuation errors, looks for typos.

For editing and proofreading I charge per hour: fees start at 20€ per hour. If you’re still not sure whether you need an editing or proofreading service, just contact me for a consultation.

Payment & Invoicing

Currently I am based in Kyiv but I deal with customers from all over the world accepting payment via Paypal, Payoneer, Moneybookers, bank transfers, or cheques. Quotes in EUR and USD. A payment schedule and a grace period depend on the project and are discussed individually.

A project order

After the above mentioned points have been clarified, a project order is issued (a legal offer to buy translation services).

A project order includes:

  • Outsourcer’s and service provider’s details
  • The name of the file(s) included in the project
  • Source and target languages
  • Project volume: characters / words / lines / pages or hours devoted to the service
  • Original source file format and project delivery / target format
  • Delivery deadline: date and time (including time zone)
  • Software required (if any)
  • Rate: per source or target character / word / line / page or per hour
  • Rate total and currency
  • Primary payment method
  • Payment deadline: the date and time limit for the outsourcer’s payment
  • Further terms and conditions for the project and the business relationship (e.g. non-disclosure agreement)
  • Additional information / requirements: useful URL(s), formatting guidelines, etc.

Services agreement

American Translators Association offers a sample of Translation Services Agreement with a comprehensive outline of contract clauses, terms, and conditions; includes compensation and payment, delivery, quality assurance, ownership of translation, confidentiality, non-inducement/non-solicitation, indemnification, dispute resolution.

translation agency or a freelance translator

Provider vs Freelancer

A translation agency or a freelance translator? Finding your match.

For companies in search of translation, the market supports numerous variants, from freelance experts to small boutique type translation agencies, to multinational language service providers.

Some companies prefer in-house translators, which is another viable choice.

The good news is there is enough room in the translation industry for all of them. From freelancers who had left their office careers to work less to LSPs operating millions of words in dozens of languages. If positioning their services correctly, all of them feel more or less comfortable.

But what is the right variant for a client? The differences between freelancers and agencies are significant, but the answer depends on your needs. Still there’s no clear-cut approach.

When searching for a service partner for today and tomorrow, how to choose between a tranlsation agency or a freelance translator? Being aware of their capabilities and limitations, you are much more likely to make a good investment into the long-term mutually beneficial relationship. I’m going to ignore the hobbyists in this discussion. When I say ‘freelancer,’ I mean the pros who do this stuff day in and day out.

AGENCY: ADVANTAGES

Availability

An agency is ready to take virtually every project claiming to follow established procedures under a clear chain of command. Apart from higher overhead, it also means on-demand availability and broader choice of services (see the next point).

Services

When dealing with larger projects, agencies are better equipped to meet varying client needs and tough technical requirements. Usually, they offer a variety of translation/localization/asset management and other services.

Turnaround

Most agencies have an impressive translator base. An agency is geared to assemble a team and meet the most challenging deadlines for your translation project. It will also arrange text standardization and reviewing if needed.

AGENCY: DISADVANTAGES

Price Tag

In general, translation agencies are viewed as expensive, especially in comparison to language students willing to do the same job for 1/10 of the cost. Like any business, they have overhead costs to cover and will typically have several specialists involved on one project. But higher prices do not necessarily mean they work with well paid, experienced translators.

Reliability

When asking for a full-package multilingual service, you have to control the qualifications of the person who will actually do the job. Too many agencies accept any translation project willingly and worry about finding a suitable translator later. In that case, you cannot control their hiring decisions. Moreover, an agency can’t guarantee the same translator for your project each time.

Communication

The hiring process for freelancers may only consist of a few emails back and forth. If you need a project done by tomorrow, it may be your best bet. Larger agencies have complex communication processes and structures, making everything slower.

YOU DEFINITELY NEED AN AGENCY IF…

Companies hire agencies because they are perceived as having almost superpowers. And they do have some:

  • Dealing with high-volume projects and/or challenging deadlines.
  • Offering all-in-one service packages to manage all your language-oriented tasks.
  • Being able to manage of all the aspects of marketing communications.
  • Choosing most suitable translators for clients who don’t know the target language of their translation job.
  • Providing additional services like desktop publishing, video subtitling, web editing, audio recording, etc.

While not being immediate experts of your product, agencies may even have the tools and drive to dig deeper than your staff employees.

FREELANCER: ADVANTAGES

Expertise

Most seasoned freelancers are passionate at what they do, so they take on projects only if they are qualified enough to provide the necessary result. Freelancers may also be an option if you need to find an expert in your specific niche. Be prepared to spend some time finding that person, though.

Transparency

No extra layers to be found between the end client and the translator. You hire a freelancer you liked and tested; you get the job done by that freelancer. One point of contact ensures direct and quick communication: you work more closely with the linguist, allowing the project to move along faster. And you can be sure that your documents remain highly confidential.

Price Tag

Freelancers may be the best option for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs if cost is among key factors. Why not pay a translator directly for outstanding work and cut out the overhead ending up with cheaper services? Thanks to lower overhead, you’ll be offered lower prices, although rates can vary greatly.

FREELANCER: DISADVANTAGES

Experience

Professionals tend to specialise in a couple of areas. It can be difficult to find one freelancer to meet all of your translation needs: legal, finance, marketing, localization, user guides, etc. Very few have all the skills (or teams) for large-volume complex projects involving translation and editing in multiple languages.

Turnaround

Many freelancers have a busy schedule and don’t work with subcontractors. If you have a looming deadline, most freelance translators will politely decline without being able to schedule days in advance.

Reliability

Use freelance job sites with caution: you may end with the jack of all trades. Dedicated websites are preferable. And don’t be tempted to choose a service provider just by their price tag. Young freelancers get work by offering low prices with little to no experience.

YOU’LL ENJOY WORKING WITH A FREELANCER IF…

With all the pros and cons, there are certain projects and situations where a freelance translator is a better fit than an agency.

  • I have a tough budget for localising new brochures for my company.
    If you know your absolute limit, your best bet is seeking out a freelance translator and planning on giving him or her as much background and context as possible.
  • We have a conference coming up and need extra translation help.
    Call up that freelancer your buddy always recommends.
  • It’s Tuesday, and I need this translated by Friday.
    Tough situation. You might try calling a freelancer to check their availability.
  • I have most of the marketing materials ready; I just need someone to flesh out the rest.
    Try a freelancer.
  • I need materials to be translated and published online regularly.
    Find a freelancer with expertise in your sphere.

Freelancers are known for their flexibility. When hired wisely and not only based on initial cost, freelancers can be a great add-on to the in-house team. If you require ongoing translation services, your savings and benefits build over time. You get a reliable contact who knows your needs and demands, your style and preferred terminology.

In any case, the first step to choosing between an agency or a freelancer is to define your project. Start with making a list of translation jobs and tasks of your organization. Local start-ups have very different needs from large enterprises. By defining your needs, it will be easier to communicate with a prospective translator (whether they are an agency, boutique firm or freelancer).

Virtual employees are great

5 Reasons Virtual Employees Are Great

Who is a freelancer? A manager or an expert who works with the company on a temporary basis and is not a part of corporate stuff.

More companies are considering freelancers when looking for potential partners.

What are the main benefits of collaboration with remote subcontractors?

The same work costs less

A highly qualified freelancer will cost you less as compared to a staff employee or a service providing company:

  • No payments for sick leaves, insurance or vacancy days
  • No funds for their working environment
  • No training and/or professional development investments

Qualification

Successful freelancers are seasoned and highly qualified professionals. You can hire a virtual employee who would be too expensive for you as a stuff member:

  • End-result commitment
  • Subject-matter experience relevant for your project
  • Access to new ideas and an outsider’s viewpoint

Motivation

Time is money, and like you, freelancers know it very well. Virtual employees make their own living, so they are perfectly aware of the ‘no result, no gain’ mantra. Moreover, they are in love with their work. In fact, it’s the only way for them to achieve great results:

  • Highly efficient
  • Open for time pressing projects
  • With flexible timetable

Individual Approach

You are dealing not with a project manager, not with front desk staff but with a specialist who is ready to go ahead with your tasks and become a part of your project. Having transferred some of their duties to a freelancer, your employees get additional time for more important tasks:

  • You continue with a usual scheme: assignment >  fulfillment > control and analysis
  • No intermediate links for better communication
  • Both parties are interested in long and efficient cooperation

Flexibility

Your virtual employee may be located in any part of the world. It means that you get an access to a much broader base of experts available:

  • You can hire a local specialist in the region of your interest and choose the qualification level you need
  • You pay for delivered projects and not for hours spent in the office
  • You handle seasonal peak workloads more efficiently

* * *

There can no doubt that you face certain challenges when working with a freelancer. Later I am sure to turn to more gruesome aspects of hiring virtual employees.

In any case, once debugged, the workflow engaging a virtual employee will have more advantages than drawbacks.

And it is one of the major reasons behind the fact that 40 percent of all U.S. workers are expected to be freelancers by 2020.