Re: Supporting documents in multiple languages

Subject: Re: Supporting documents in multiple languages
From: Dick Gaskill <dickg -at- AG3D -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 13:30:43 -0800

Hi Chris,

All of my docs get translated to between 7 and 10 languages, depending
on the customer. Here are a few suggestions.

First, whether you realize it or not, you ARE in the business of
technical translation, at least to a point. If your docs are being
localized, you need to make sure they are in a format that *can be*
localized. This process is called internationalization (some people
just say I18N). It includes not using jargon, using standard English,
leaving an extra 15% whitespace on the page so that there is room for
the larger words in other languages (German, for example) and still keep
the manual pretty much page for page.

You did not mention who is doing the translation. Personal experience
says DO NOT just give the docs to someone in one of your offshore
offices and let them translate it. There is little or no quality
assurance, no technical check, probably little or no DTP, your manual
may come out looking completely different. Talk to your management.
Talk to Marketing and/or Sales. Insist that they do not let the
offshore offices translate your docs for you. You get what you pay for,
believe me. I've been there.

The normal procedure for getting docs translated is usually something
like this.

1. Screen and hire a single localization vendor than can handle ALL the
languages you need.
I won't go into the details here, it would take 2 or 3 pages.

2. Send English source files to vendor
Completed english source files are sent to a single localization vendor.
Make sure you include all graphics files. Do your best to avoid changes
afterward. Expensive and time-consuming.

3. Raw translation
The vendor translates the text only.

4. Technical Check
The vendor either sends the translated text files back to you to have
checked by your offshore offices, or (much better) put them in direct
contact with the offshore offices, and the vendor ends the files
directly to them. The offshore offices edit the files for technical
content and send them back to the translators. There may be two
iterations here.

5. DTP
The vendor formats the translated text to make it look as much as
possible like your original document

6. Final check.
Either you or the people in our offshore offices check the final output,
edit as needed, and return to the localizations vendor.

7. Final DTP and delivery.
Delivery can be however youi want it. Most vendors have the capability
to produce laser copy and/or film, or just send youi the files.

OKAY, now, how to keep track of what's what.
Every doc needs to have a part and revision number of some kind. Keep
different revisions in separate directories. Keep the localized
versions in sub directories of the revision. Example:

Release 1

That should get you started. Also, I suggest that you take a course in
managing the process of localiztion. The STC and point you to courses
in your local area.

Good Luck.

Dick Gaskill
Pubs Mgr.

> ----------
> From: Chris Wilcox[SMTP:Clwilcox -at- MICRON -dot- COM]
> Reply To: Chris Wilcox
> Sent: Friday, March 06, 1998 11:48 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Supporting documents in multiple languages
> Our company has new facilities in Malaysia and Belgium. We're
> implementing a couple of new software systems for which we have been
> diligently creating new user manuals. Our Belgium facility has
> requested that we translate the documents into French so that the
> workforce will have both of them at their disposal, and we've already
> had instances where controlled documents have been translated to the
> appropriate language for our Malaysia audience without regard for the
> content control.
> Has anyone else faced a similar situation? I'm not in the business of
> technical translation, but foresee a nightmare in the making if we
> attempt to have multiple versions of the same documents floating
> around--especially if "corporate" (translation: my department) becomes
> responsible for them (those 2 years of French I took in high school
> probably won't cut it). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
> Chris Wilcox
> clwilcox -at- micron -dot- com
> ~~
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF
> Search archives at:

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