Re: Supporting documents in multiple languages

Subject: Re: Supporting documents in multiple languages
From: Steve Iverson <steve -at- IVERSONLANG -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 18:15:05 -0600


In reading Dick's reply to your post, he seems to have the process down
cold. As a service provider that offers both technical writing and
translation, we are very focused on having a quality procedure, and a
document control procedure in place. As Dick said, don't take a
"hands-off" approach. You need to have control over the process, or you
will lose the quality and cost battle. Despite what a lot of people may
think, it is possible to achieve good quality, reasonable cost and
turnaround times.

We normally do seminars on this process for our clients, but it includes
much of what Dick said:

1. Partner with a good service provider who can handle the languages
in question. Make sure that you check references, and once you're
satisfied, make them a part of your team. This includes giving them
direct access to your people in country to verify terminology and
stylistic issues. This will keep some of the mess off your desk, and
also help to convince your overseas people that they will be getting a
good quality document.

2. Create a glossary of terminology which can be approved by your
reviewers. This means that you should have less changes of the final
document. After the translation is done by a professional, technical
translator, and proofread by your service provider, have them send it to
your in-country reviewer.

3. Keep in mind that changes may or may not be legitimate. Just
because they come from a native speaker doesn't mean that they're always
accurate or correct. This is where your relationship with your service
provider can help. They can evaluate changes and implement those which
preserve the integrity of the English meaning, and correct any
grammatical errors which may have been made in the review process. And,
of course, there is the issue of stylistic issues. Our policy is that if
your reviewer has made a large amount of stylistic corrections, which do
not affect the technical accuracy of the material, we charge to
implement them. This is not very common, though.

4. Finally, remember a few important items:
-- Translation is like tech writing in some ways. The more
knowledge the translator has about your product, the better the
translation will be. This implies providing information about target
market, product samples if possible, contact with someone at your
company who is willing to research questions.
-- As with technical writing, time plays a major factor in the
quality process. The more time you have (to a certain point), the better
the document will be. MAKE SURE that your translation service provider
has the technology to help you re-use and streamline your English so
that translation costs do not keep rising. This also helps with
turnaround time.
-- Translation is an investment, just as advertising is an
investment. Few business people I know like to spend money on
advertising, but they know it's necessary. The same is true with
translation. You may or may not be able to link dollars to documents,
but it goes a long way reputation and usability-wise.

Hope this helps. I could ramble all day, but I won't...send me an e-mail
if you have other questions.

Steve Iverson
Iverson Language Associates, Inc.

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