Archive for October, 2012

Translation is (Not) a Team Sport

October 25, 2012

Usually, translators sit alone at their desks while reading a text in one language and hammering it down on their keyboards in another language. Of course, they use their terminology databases, reference texts, background material, etc., etc. But, essentially, a translator receives her/his text from a client, gets it done and sends it back. All necessary clarifications happen between two people.

But what if the text is too long for one person to translate within the given time constraints? For example, a user documentation of 3000 pages or more? Almost a year’s work for one person. So, what to do?

Easy: hack the text in small chunks and distribute it among, say, fifteen translators. They get it done in a couple of weeks.

But, wait a minute. What about consistency? What about terminology? Will all of them use the same word for the same thing?

In all projects where more than one translator is involved some preparatory work is necessary before the text is split up between the members of the translation team:

  • Terminology analysis of the complete text
  • Research and definition of consistent terms and words
  • Identification of repeated phrases and sentences
  • Prior translation of repeated phrases and sentences to avoid inconsistencies
  • Careful segmentation of the text to avoid logical overlaps

Such translation projects are best managed by an experienced translator, who takes care of the up-front analysis and segmentation.

Consistent terminology increases usability and translation quality