Re: Advice on rewriting translated ops manuals

Subject: Re: Advice on rewriting translated ops manuals
From: Ken Poshedly <poshedly -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: Anonymous <anonymous -at- techwhirl -dot- com>, Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 18:18:52 -0700 (PDT)

Without getting into the particulars of using "you" or not, etc., what you <!> are facing is what I do all darn day long, every work day -- that is, converting Chinglish manuals into English-language manuals suitable my North American customers. And they love my work.

By the way, even the staff in Huzhou (a city near Shanghai where my company's translating staff is located) calls their output "Chinglish"; so if it's their term, it's my term for what I get from them.

The workflow for my company (a HUGE heavy equipment manufacturer based in China) consists of the Chinese engineers writing all the documentation in Chinese and then passing it along to the translating group in Huzhou. The translating group consists of a few of what I call "kids" (because I'm in my 60s and they're in their 20s) who have no or little product knowledge because they come and go every 8 months to a year.

That's the job market in China -- constant mobility.


So the translating group does the best it can to produce at least some kind of English-language documentation. The engineering group which originates the stuff places very little emphasis on accuracy (at least in my company).


Style guide? Very doubtful, though possible in your case. My group is just happy to get something out the door because of the extreme pressure from the top.

OK, so how does this relate to your situation? I suggest that you concentrate on YOUR audience and do everything in your professional bag of know-how to produce a document that could pass for one which actually originated here.

THAT'S what I think you said your assignment is; ". . . it is for our U.S. clients and not theirs . . ."

I actually have to reorganize, reformat and rewrite about 95 percent of what I get from the home office. It's everything from extremely long dependent clauses to an overly polite tone. Lots of "Please push this button to . . ." type stuff. Here, we say, "Push the button to make this work." Short and sweet. (But you already know that.)


After a few pages, one gets the impression that they practically want to come over and cook your dinner in appreciation for you purchasing their product.


But that translating group is SOOO appreciative for my work because they then use it in other books "by them".

Remember, if your manual is nothing more than a half-hearted improvement of the original Chinglish manual and then your manual is subsequently translated into other local languages, there's a big chance of incorrect data somehow getting included during the translation process, and that could mean a major liability lawsuit.

It's best to translate from a top-notch, English-language document.

Feel free to contact me off-list as well.

-- Ken in Atlanta




>________________________________
> From: Anonymous <anonymous -at- techwhirl -dot- com>
>To: Techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
>Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 10:34 AM
>Subject: Advice on rewriting translated ops manuals
>
>
>Anonymous has a new challenge, and asks for the list's advice on handling.
>Please make your replies directly to the list, as they cannot be forwarded.
>
>--------------------
>
>Greetings,
>
>I need some advice.
>
>I've been asked to review and edit some Ops manuals from our Chinese tech
>pubs department for a product we will be selling domestically.  It appears
>that the manual was written in Chinese and then translated into English. It
>is in bad shape. I don't have access to their style guide, but I've noticed
>that they use the pronoun "you" in their manuals and we don't in our
>manuals. For example, "Use [Quick Admit] only if you do not have the time
>or information to fully admit a patient. " and "You can transfer a patient
>with an XYZ or ABC to a new location without re-entering the patient
>demographic information or changing the settings. "
>
>They also use "will" throughout the manual and we do not. For example, "Select
>a patient and then click [Import]. Then the monitor *will* update the
>information for the corresponding patient." We would write, "Select a
>patient and then click [Import]. The monitor updates the information for
>the corresponding patient."
>
>I'm uncomfortable re-writing this manual based on our style guide even
>though it is for our US clients and not theirs because I don't want them to
>feel snubbed. I'm also not sure if this manual has been translated yet (I
>have asked the project manager to find out), so that will be a factor in
>how much I change as they are VERY cost conscious and likely will not want
>to pay for so many updates.
>
>Gentle opinions are welcome.
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References:
Advice on rewriting translated ops manuals: From: Anonymous

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