Updating foreign language translations?

Subject: Updating foreign language translations?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 08:52:56 -0500

Linda Hughes is having trouble with updating manuals to account for <<...the
new revision of the software. New features, altered features, improved
algorithms, etc. Now we need to update the manuals not only in English, but
in 10 other languages. There are new sections, new paragraphs, new
sentences, sometimes only a few words in a sentence need to be altered.>>

Part of this depends on the tools you're using. I recently did something
like this on a much smaller scale with two documents published in Word 97.
The (French) author made his revisions in the French version of the file
using revision tracking, then sent me the file. I opened the file, found and
edited his edits, then opened the English file beside it. I went through the
French file, one revision at a time (this is easy to do by opening the
"Accept/review revisions" dialog box, clicking "Find next revision", then
closing the dialog and editing on it; you can also use the "search" function
if that's easier for you), and made the same changes in the English. Then I
"accepted all" the revisions, and both versions of the manuscript were
suddenly in sync. I've heard of people using Word's "compare documents"
feature for similar tasks, but got the impression that it doesn't work as
efficiently or as reliably. I imagine Frame and most other modern word
processors have comparable features. If you and your translators have
compatible tools, then you should be able to use a combination of these
approaches to succeed. (And if you don't, you should find translators who
are willing to adopt your software; it will save lots of grief down the

If you don't have the same software, there are a variety of more primitive
but equally effective means of accomplishing the same end. You can certainly
prepare a separate document that is full of lines such as "on page 2, line
17, insert the word 'equal' at the beginning of the line; the result should
read...". You can also simply mark the changes on a printout of the
manuscript. For example, when someone inserts a last-minute correction in
one of our already-edited French manuscripts and a fine point of French
grammar is beyond my skills (which is often), I can highlight the change
(circle it in red ink) and fax the document to our translator. She can then
return the fax or call me and say "no problems" (well... "pas de probleme"
<g>). And yes, this is one of those frequent Homer Simpson moments for me...
it never occurred to me until I started thinking about your problem that,
now that our translator uses the same software we use, I can take my own
advice and send her the edited file! <g> D'oh! This is another of those
proofs that by helping others, you often help yourself. Thanks!

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Hofstadter's Law: The time and effort required to complete a project are
always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's

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