Translation Context: Why it Matters

by | Jun 29, 2020

Translation Context – Take a Walk in a Translator’s Shoes

Because technology has enabled the world to become more interconnected, companies are finding the prospect of international expansion more appealing than ever. In fact, there is an emerging mindset that a company can be born global and reach out to international markets from day one. Although eager new businesses might be tempted to jump feet first into the worldwide market, it’s wise to take things slowly and concentrate on maintaining quality in a localization marketing campaign. The first step in localization is a quality translation of your content. When working with your translators, it’s necessary to go way beyond just translating word for word by paying attention to translation context. 

Translation Context: Why it Matters 1

Translation Context Is the Answer

Providing your translators with as much contextual information as possible will help to greatly improve the quality of your translations. Here are some ways to help your translators produce the best possible translation/localization of your content:

Provide Textual Context

In order to improve the quality of translations, your translators need to pay a great deal of attention to translation context. The translation of any word from English into a foreign language can vary greatly. The way the word is translated can depend on several factors – subject matter, gender, case, and whether the source word is a noun, verb, or adjective. Let’s take as an example the word turn unrelated to any context. Turn might mean any one of the following:

  • A turn of the page.
  • A player’s turn in a card game.
  • The turn of the year or the century.
  • A turn of events.
  • Taking a turn for the worst.
  • A turn up for the books.

It is highly unlikely that a single translation of the word turn in another language will cover all of the above contexts. So, paying no attention to translation context can dramatically increase the chances of misleading errors occurring in your content. 

Use Visuals

  • Screenshots

One way to provide better translation context is with screenshots. Provide a screenshot of a word or phrase that makes it clear what the context of the word or phrase is. For instance: 

Book a time with us!
Book = schedule

Here’s how Localize can help.

  • Images

Another way to provide context is to use an image to clearly show your translator what they are meant to describe. This could be accomplished using thumbnails or, for more complicated parts of machinery (for example), expanded images in the form of picture previews.

Expanding on Quality Control

A company will often set up a localization team to focus on international markets. Localization plays an essential role in the pursuit of new global business, but effective implementation can be a daunting task. The idea of quality control should be a foundational step in the localization process, rather than an afterthought when things have gone wrong. 

Make Context a Part of Your Workflow

Any translation project requires a high level of linguistic expertise. Your translator may need to be familiar with the local dialect and culture. Incorporating context into all phases of the translation process will help to ensure a top-quality end product. Once you have your translation, you are ready to move on with the following steps:

  1. Remote Testing

Before launching your product or service in a new country, you need to run a test to find out how your prospective customers will perceive your content. With the latest technology, it is possible to conduct remote testing from actual devices in the targeted country. You can get back measurable data even if you don’t yet have a presence there. The ability to gain perspective on what your prospective customers are seeing and reading is an essential element in quality control.

  1. Conduct Frequent Content Reviews

However good your translators, it can be quite difficult to get your translated and localized content one hundred percent correct on the first attempt. Localize can help with this process through our In-Progress Workflow that allows for a quality check before translations go live on your site or app. Also, over time your company branding and terminology may change, which means your content will need to be updated. So, frequent reviewing of your translated content will pick up errors and ensure that it stays current. 

  1. Choose Dependable Translators

Choose a Dependable Language Service Provider (LSP). A good LSP can expertly handle your translation and localization projects. One benefit of working with an LSP is that you can reduce your overhead costs related to the hiring of in-house localization specialists in a variety of different languages. 

Why Quality Control Matters

Quality control for your localization efforts is not that different from quality control for other industries. Just as a vehicle manufacturer would have quality metrics and methods in place before releasing a finished automobile, no localized content should be published without first undergoing a proper quality review. Just as faulty cars might lead to recalls, additional manufacturing costs, declining sales, and lawsuits, localization errors can lead to poor brand image and loss of sales. And, errors in instructional content could result in improper product usage with serious consequences for your business. These blunders can be avoided by making your quality control more robust.

Let Localize Assist You With Translation Context

Localize’s state-of-the art translation management platform comes with tools to streamline the process of assigning context to your translations. And, the expert translators that you need to ensure a high level of translation context are able to be seamlessly integrated into our platform. To learn about what we can offer you in more detail, don’t hesitate to give us a call.