ULG's Language Services Blog

Four Common Mistakes To Avoid During The Translation Process




In many ways, the translation process is like a large, complex game of telephone.

You have linguists, project managers, clients and designers all trying to effectively communicate with one another to produce an accurate target translation after the initial “message” has been delivered to a Language Service Provider (LSP) by the client.

Sometimes the final product is an exact replica of the document to be translated, conveying the same message in its target language as it did in the source file. That’s not always the case, though. Errors can occur at any stage of a localization project, sometimes resulting in big problems.

But there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of a faulty translation before the fact. Often, the mistakes that come up in the translation process are common. Below are four recurring localization blunders and how to avoid them.

1 . Not Preparing For Design Changes

A component part of the translation process is design. Once a file is translated, there needs to be adequate support in the desktop publishing department to accommodate the target file, adding the necessary logos, images and typefaces to the document.

Depending on the language, translation can create text expansion of 20-30 percent. When text expansion isn’t figured in, your documents can look awkward, and in worse case scenarios, will need to be completed again.

It’s important to have an idea of what expansion might occur and take that into consideration so your design team isn’t stumped when the document is handed to them.

2 . Not Having Your Team Assembled BeforeHand

When you select an LSP, you want to make sure the company has a strong, core team of linguists, reviewers, project managers and DTP experts. And you want to know that there are well-documented processes in place to facilitate the translation process.

It’s also important to have a client-side review team set up before the translation process starts. This way there will be no surprises as you hand off translations to your local experts. Include everyone involved in the process. Let your LSP know what your plans are for in-country review, as well. When everyone is on the same page it’s more likely the end product will be successful.


3 . Failing To Establish Smooth Communication and File Transfer

A translation project can include hundreds, sometimes thousands of files that need to be sent back and forth between an LSP, clients and linguists. If you don’t have a streamlined process for document transfer, files could be lost and it will be difficult to keep track of everything that’s coming in.

A seasoned LSP will have a robust Translation Management System (TMS) that facilitates communication between all parties as well as encrypted file distribution. Utilizing strong data protection methods is a must nowadays, and it’s important to seek out a provider that makes information security a high priority.

4 . Translating Files Verbatim

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when localizing foreign language documents is translating them word for word. Don’t forget about context and cultural nuance. Experienced translators likely won’t make this error, but it’s still important to keep strong localization practices in mind.

Idioms and region-specific phrases probably won’t have the same meaning in foreign languages. Clients and LSPs alike need to understand the market they’re targeting, and their localization tactics should be catered specifically to the target audience.

Make Sure You’re Prepared

If there’s one takeaway from this list, it’s the importance of up-front preparation. Having a plan when heading into the localization process will make your project easier, and, because you’re avoiding extra work, likely cheaper.

Maybe more important than cutting costs, being strategic will help to avoid the stress associated with unnecessary work due to errors.

It’s impossible for global companies to expand without localization, but simply going through the motions without proper forethought won’t allow you to successfully reach an international audience. Take the proper care with the translation process and work with the right team, and you’ll be sure to get your message out all over the world.