RE: Reviewers for localized materials - are they required?

Subject: RE: Reviewers for localized materials - are they required?
From: siliconwriter -at- comcast -dot- net
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 17:35:16 +0000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Localization Question [mailto:localization_question -at- hotmail -dot- com]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 6:40 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Reviewers for localized materials - are they required?
> So, three questions:
> 1) Does your company get linguistic experts, or any other sort of
> expert,
> to review localized materials?

When we localize materials, we run it past an in-house employee whose native language is the target language. If the translation is technical (engineering specs, etc) we try to get a technical person whose native language is the target language to review it. We don't hire outside reviewers, but that's because so far all of our review needs have been met in-house. Only once have I had to hire an outside reviewer, when our in-house reviewer was ill, and the review she produced was not very useful.

The drawback to having in-house reviewers, by the way, is that after a while you have to head off management types who naively think you can save a buck by having the in-house reviewers become in-house *translators*.

> 2) Is it reasonable to simply trust the localization firm to be doing a
> good
> job? My colleagues and I have edited materials and caught the odd error,
> despite a complete lack of fluency.

No, it is not reasonable. That's why you should line up an in-house reviewer, if possible. Ideally, this would be someone familiar with the technology, but if the only person in your company who speaks the target language is a non-technical person, then even that is better than no review. The most critical review of all is the review of your glossary or terminology list, before translation proper even begins. Anyone can translate "don't plug this cable into this port", but it takes work and expertise to translate "deep-packet processing algorithm". That list should be checked and double checked when it gets back from the translators.

I should say that this advice is not a knock on localization firms. They do good work, and I have a lot of respect for them. But it's not a good idea to blindly trust *anybody*. People make mistakes; it's better to find out in the localization process than after you've handed out a thousand brochures in a trade show with an unintentional dirty joke in them.

> 3) If you do have additional reviewers, how did you get them and what is
> the
> relationship to your company?

As noted, we use in-house technical people as much as possible. If we have to go outside, I generally rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, and hire freelance translators. I don't hire a second localization firm to back up the first.

One caveat: if your target language is French get more than one opinion. Most of the French-speaking engineers/programmers I have spoken to get quite vehement over translations. Most of them declare that only French-speaking technical writers should write French user guides.

Bonne chance!


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