TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Besides the legal considerations (conformity to the appropriate directives
and standards), there are marketing considerations as well, which have an
effect on the decision on what to translate.
There are countries where it is crucial to have the whole documentation in
the major language, and not English. In some cases, English documentation
only can be the knock-out criterion.
The number you mention for your translation cost must be put in relation to
the price of the product, or better to the expected revenue of the
products, and to the development cost. Then, suddenly, it may no longer
look so bad at all. Also, it is worthwile to have the documentation
creation (and translation) starting rather early in the development
process. If translation can start early, the time lag is becoming
acceptable. ... particularly if a major sales contract does not come in
because of the missing manuals in the right language.
So, it could be that saving the cost for translation can be a wonderful
example of shooting in one's own foot.
Hope, this can help.
PRODOK Engineering AG
Technical documentation and translations, Electronic Publishing
CH-8906 Bonstetten, Switzerland
Fax: +41 1 700 20 37
e-mail: mailto:prodok -at- prodok -dot- ch or 100012 -dot- 44 -at- compuserve -dot- com
Bridging the Knowledge Gap ...
... with Acrobat Forms ... now for belt drive designers at
>Thank you, Geoff, for your checklists.
>However, we here at Advanced Energy struggle with some very manual-specific
>questions relating to our CE-declared products:
> --Under what circumstances do we translate manual material?
> --How much of the manual needs to be translated?
>We are currently working with our compliance engineers (our products are
>hardware) to create a decision matrix to help with these questions. Here are
>some of our concerns:
> --Some people interpret the CE language requirement broadly: since the
>language requirement says "a major language," and since English is a major
>language in many European countries, an English-only manual should
>suffice--most of the time.
> --If the CE language requirement is interpreted more narrowly, then aren't
>we free to seek a waiver of translation from the customer?
> --If the customer insists on translation, aren't we again free to negotiate
>with the customer the extent of the translation, the timeline, and the cost?
> --In the past (mostly for GS-marked products (for Germany)), we have
>translated only the compliance/safety page and general installation and
>operation instructions and placed the translated sections within the English
>manual. Would this suffice for any CE-mandated translations?
> --Translations are expensive and take time. In the past we have told our
>sales/marketing people that a translation of a manual can take up to 12
>weeks (usually less) and cost in the neighborhood of $12,000. They balk at
>these numbers. Some think, I guess, that translations ought to be "free"
>(the way technical writing is "free") and happen instantaneously.
>(As I side note, one time one of our sales guys only half jokingly asked me
>if our quick print vendor could just press a button and have an English-only
>manual print in German!!!)
>If any technical writers/editors/publications managers out there has
>experience dealing with these questions and concerns, I would really like to
>hear from you.
>Senior Technical Writer
>Advanced Energy Industries, Inc.