Saturday, 16 April 2016

Ten tips on Web content translation for international audiences

 A crucial component of localizing a global Web presence is translation. Avoiding common missteps can make those efforts easier and more effective.
Web content translation is essential for enterprises seeking inroads with global audiences, but it also imposes some unique challenges that should be recognized before launching any Web globalization project.
The goal of Web content translation is effective communication in multiple languages, but missteps in writing style can create inefficiencies for Web localization or hamper its effectiveness.
In this excerpt from The Definitive Guide to Website Translation, localization professional Stefanie Frischknecht points out some common pitfalls of Web content translation and offers suggestions on the best ways to communicate with global audiences.
I recently came across an article that listed the "25 most annoying business phrases." I forwarded it to my Global Solutions team for a Friday afternoon laugh, asking, "How annoying are you?"
One of my colleagues in Europe responded, "This is excellent! Especially when you are not a native English speaker and your colleagues use these phrases all the time."
Being bilingual -- having grown up in both Switzerland and the United States -- I could really relate to this reaction. It made me think about global audiences and how certain expressions don't always translate the way we intend. These ambiguous phrases lose theirmeaning and can cause confusion. So, in today's global world, the way we speak and write affects others on a wide scale.
As a solution architect, part of my job includes consulting with clients and setting up theirlocalization programs for success. These client discussions often focus on scope, languages, technology, success criteria, goals and other expected topics. But a critical element of successful localization is often overlooked: source-text quality. How well-written is your content?
Your source text serves as a base for translated content in all other languages. And as your number of target languages for translation increases, the impact of your source content does, too. So, when writing for successful translation, it's critical that you plan ahead. It's all about writing it right -- the first time.
To avoid common pitfalls, there are some general guidelines you should keep in mind when writing for translation. Keep your sentences simple and direct to increase understanding -- and use a style guide for consistency, because clear, concise, well-constructed sentences improve translation quality, reduce turnaround time, and cut costs -- which speeds time-to-market and accelerates revenue streams.
Here are 10 tips to remember when writing for Web content translation:
1. Keep sentences brief. For increased comprehension and simpler translations, aim for about 20 words or less. I often ask myself, what's truly important? How can I simplify what I want to say? Reading sentences aloud helps to keep them short and sweet.
2. Use Standard English word order whenever possible. This generally means a subject, verb, and object with associated modifiers. Ensure correct grammatical structure and proper punctuation.
This includes checking the basics, because mistakes can travel across source and target languages. Translators often find and flag source errors, but that shouldn't replace proofreading your source text.
3. Avoid long noun strings. When connecting elements are omitted from noun strings, readers must infer the relationship between the words. If you have to read a sentence several times to understand it, chances are that there will be further complications when it's translated into a different language. When this happens, we tend to see misinterpretations of the original meaning -- or a translation that appears too literal.
4. Use just one term to identify a single concept. Synonyms get in the way of clarity.
Write the same thing, the same way, every time you write it. Finding different ways to write a single concept will not only affect the overall consistency of translation, but it will also reduce the related translation memory leverage. This can lead to decreased quality, increased cost and increased turnaround. Translation memories leverage words in segments, so changing even a minor word has an impact. Always consider reusing existing content that has already been translated -- don't write from scratch if you don't need to.
5. Avoid humor. It rarely translates with equivalency. The same goes for jargon, regional phrases or metaphors. True story: I didn't know what "knocking it out of the park" or a "grand slam" was until I moved to Boston in 2004 and got pulled into watching the Red Sox World Series. Now I get it, but chances are that many translators are as clueless as I am when it comes to American sports. Expressions are not always universally understood or appreciated -- they just don't translate.
6. Be clear with international dates. Style guides should document the handling of large numerals, measurements of weight, height, width, temperature, time, phone numbers, currency and so on for each language pair. For example: 09/07/2015. Is that September or July? It depends where I am. In Switzerland, it reads as July, but in the U.S., it's September. The safest choice is to spell out the name of the month. Using an abbreviation for the month is fine if space is tight.
7. Use relative pronouns like "that" and "which." Even if you don't need them, they may improve understanding. "The software that he licensed expires tomorrow" is clearer than, "The software he licensed expires tomorrow." It's good to check that pronouns have been included rather than assumed.
8. Use the active voice. It's more direct, better understood and easier to translate.
Words like "was" and "by" may indicate that a passive voice is used. For example:
"The software was upgraded by the user" is passive. "The user upgraded the software" is active.
9. Avoid phrasal verbs (containing a verb form with one or more articles). They tend to complicate translations. For example, use "met" rather than "ran into."
Phrasal verbs often have multiple meanings and are less formal. Be on the lookout for two- or three-word verbs. I was trying to think of this in relation to German, but guess what: a "phrasal verb" as such doesn't exist in German.
10. Make sure it fits. English text is often shorter than other languages, which means sufficient space is needed for expansion (up to 35%). This is particularly important for software interfaces and graphics.
Differences exist not only in sentence length, but also in individual word length -- as some languages use large compound words. For example, The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, which means "insurance companies providing legal protection" as the longest German word in everyday use. What happens when a German translation won't fit into an allotted space? What about white space when text contracts? Planning ahead will save you money and a lot of headaches.
Communication and preparation are key
Cross-cultural communication requires some study and practice to master. But it all begins with preparingcontent for international readers and making sure that source text is easy to translate. Once the stage is set for Web content translation, you can focus on the translation process itself and further refine content to suit different audiences. Writing translation-ready materials will save you time as well as money -- and it'll increase the quality and readability of your target translations.
Source: TechTarget  

Free of charge price request for translation of web content 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

We Understand the Language of Life Sciences

By Didzis Grauss
Business Development Director

Over the period of more than 22 years since translation agency Baltic Media Ltd. has been providing high quality translation services for the industry, the company has developed a set of priority industries with specialized resources, software and staff to support them. Some examples include technical translation, marketing translation, IT & Software translation, legal translation. But in this case we would like to bring your attention to the industry that has played a major part of our everyday business for the last 10 years – life sciences.

Despite the fact that life sciences have been an integral part of Baltic Media’s offer of services for a decade now, this industry requires a constant growth. The standards in medical, pharmacy and medical equipment industries are getting updated regularly, therefore we, as the leading services provider in the Northern and Baltic region, have to keep up. Since the beginning of the year we have been doing just that and first quarter of 2016 has brought very pleasant results.

During the first four months of 2016 we have put a heavy emphasis on improving our pool of resources specialized in life sciences. Due to the broad spectra of medical translations, the translators specialized in medical topics cannot limit their knowledge to one topic. Skills in sub-categories and related topics are needed as well. The resource improvement process was accompanied by intense language testing, reference checks, individual conversations with resources as well as life sciences related knowledge tests. The result is a very impressive and professional team of medical translators for the whole Nordic and Baltic region.

The resources are not the only thing we improved during the first quarter of this year. While celebrating the 10th anniversary of the acquisition of ISO9001:2008 certification we also appreciate the fact that these procedures facilitate a good soil for medical and life science translations. The quality assurance, terminology acquisition, documentation arrangement all goes hand-in-hand with the requirements of the translations of such nature.

We believe that the result is very solid and will serve well for the forthcoming year, which we have marked the “Year of Life Sciences”. Baltic Media Ltd. has been a trusted partner for the world’s leading pharmaceutical and medical companies and we are ready to earn your trust as well. We will be happy to hear your needs and requirements, all you need to do is let us know.

Life sciences cover some of the most challenging translation subjects out there. Translation agency Baltic Media Ltd specializes in providing medical translation and localization services to the global market. Our linguists have extensive knowledge in Medical, Biotechnological, Healthcare, Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical and Ag-Vet market segments.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

French Spelling Changes, 26 Years in the Making, Cause a Fracas

  In France, the land of Molière, questions of language are so sacred that every Thursday the “immortals,” the guardians of the French language at the Académie Française, meet to discuss — among other things — proposed changes to the institution’s vaunted dictionary.
The last complete edition of the dictionary was published in 1935, according to the academy, and changes evolve over centuries. The newest complete edition is not finished — the authors have reached the letter R.
So it was perhaps not surprising that tempers flared this week after a news report from the broadcaster TF1 that changes were afoot to cut back the circumflex accent, known as “the hat,” from French-language textbooks.
Adding to the horror, the report said that as of September, when the new school year began, teachers would also have to make changes affecting about 2,400 French words, including spelling oignon — or onion — as ognon.

Among the words appropriated from English, news reports noted, the hyphen in week-end would be eliminated, along with the hyphen in tictac (now tic-tac, or ticking, like a clock), while leader would be given a French makeover and be spelled leadeur. Nénuphar, or water lily, would be spelled nénufar.
The reaction on social media was harsh and swift, as intellectuals, teachers and traditionalists took to Twitter to vent their anger at what many saw as an attack on centuries of culture and history.

In a sign of the frenzy inspired by the changes, “Je suis circumflex” became a popular hashtag on Twitter — an allusion to “Je suis Charlie,” the rallying cry used to show solidarity after the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was attacked by terrorists early last year.

One Twitter user called Guillaume C. reacted to the spelling changes, including the pruning of the circumflex, as a personal affront. “I started the day with a bit of vomit in my mouth,” he wrote on Twitter.

Others were quick to warn of the linguistic perils of losing the circumflex to distinguish between sûr, or sure, an adjective, and, sur, or on, a preposition.
“I am sure your sister is well” and “I am on top of your sister she is well” are not the same thing,” wrote another Twitter user, using a colloquial form of French.
In fact, the circumflex is becoming optional on i’s and u’s, and only on those words that do not need it. It will remain mandatory in several French verb tenses and when there is a clear distinction in meaning.

Joining the revolt, the National Inter-University Union, a right-leaning student group published a petition accusing the education minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, of abusing her “authority” to overturn the rules for spelling in French.
Unfortunately for them, Le Monde noted, the students incorrectly conjugated the verb “to authorize,” misspelling the word.
But for all the outrage, the Education Ministry said that the changes were nothing new and that, in fact, they had been approved by the Académie Française in 1990 as optional recommendations that many textbooks and schools had chosen to ignore.
In 1635, Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII, established the Académie Française to rule on the usage of the French language.

The 1990 changes that caused all the fuss this week also came up in 2008, when the Education Ministry published a bulletin urging schools to put them in place.
Nicolas Sarkozy was president at the time of that bulletin, which was largely ignored. Another bulletin issued by the ministry to schools in 2015 — this time during the presidency of François Hollande, a Socialist, received a similarly muted reaction.

This latest debate appears to have been reignited when education officials again this year reiterated their plea. Only this time, publishers of textbooks decided to embrace them.
Patrick Vannier, who works in the elite dictionary service of the Académie Française, said by phone from Paris that the backlash appeared to be overwrought. But he said he was heartened that in the age of the iPhone, the French remained so wedded to their dictionaries.

“I am happy that this shows the extent to which the French are still attached to their language,” he said. He added, “It also shows that there is a lack of historical perspective and that people think that changes of language are fixed for all eternity, when, in, fact, they evolve.”

Indeed, it is a sign of the times that attitudes toward language in France are shifting. Three years ago, when a proposed law was introduced to allow French universities to teach more courses in English, one leading intellectual called it a “suicide project.”

But last year, France’s minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin, said French was not in need of protection from foreign influences, including English. Her words were welcomed by modernizers.

After all, she is the leadeur of the ministry
Source: NYT