In Translation/Localization

In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed the role of a Client-Side Reviewer in the translation process, and the unintended negative consequences for companies that do not do so. In Part 2, we’ll dive a little deeper into the linguistic parameters that Client-Side Reviewers set at the beginning of a translation project to ensure that the client’s message is heard and understood by the target audience exactly as the client intended.

Ahhh, regionalisms – If a linguist were to pick any one area of most concern to his work, it would be regionalisms. A “regionalism” is a word or phrase that has unique meaning in a region or amongst a group of people that wouldn’t necessarily make sense, even to speakers of the same language, outside the region. Every language has them. Consider, for example, the word “chips” as in “fish and chips.” In America? French fries. In the UK? Potato chips.

Top consideration should be given to regionalisms by Client-Side Reviewers. Translation requestors who do not know the target language will depend heavily on Client-Side Reviewers to make sure that the message is clear to the target audience.

What happens when regionalisms aren’t addressed at the beginning of a translation project? The entangling often begins when the Client-Side Review is a speaker of the target language, but not from the same region as the target audience for the translated text. The Client-Side Reviewer may detect a word or phrase he/she does not recognize, and red-mark that term or phrase. If the term or phrase is a regionalism, well known to the target audience but not to the Client-Side Reviewer, conflict can arise. A client’s immediate, natural reaction to its trusted reviewer’s opinion that a word or phrase is mistranslated is to doubt the quality of the translation. Then a series of not-so-happy events ensue to untangle the situation.

The time and effort of untangling regionalism issues that could have been prevented by managing regionalisms at the onset of the project. If the Client-Side Reviewer is from a different regional or cultural background, it can be acknowledged up front and the translation team can note where it has chosen regionalized language for the specific, target audience. Even better, if the Client-Side Reviewer is from the same regional or cultural background, he/she can discuss specific regionalisms to be used or avoided in the translated work. To use an English example, your reviewer might tell your linguist to translate into “British English” where the word “lorry” should be used, or “American English” where “semi-truck” is the right choice. Notice, both terms are correct, but one is more appropriate for a particular region. This happens in any language that is spoken across different countries or regions, such as Arabic from the Gulf region and Arabic from northern Africa, or French from France and French Canadian. The language is the same, but different words or phrases are used to describe the same thing. This doesn’t make the choice wrong – just misunderstood.

Style is the way something is written, such as the tone. Tone is the attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. This is another highly important area where Client-Side Reviewer’s input at the start of the project will yield the best possible translation. The Client-Side Reviewer should inform the translation company about the tone desired, such as formal or informal, technical or general, or even playful or somber. For example, in Spanish, there is a big difference between “tú” (informal) and “usted” (formal) for the word “you”. Where the former might be perfect for addressing a young generation, the latter might be better accepted in a memo to the executive team. Both are correct, but each can evoke differences of opinion.

But wait!
What if you don’t have a Client-Side Reviewer in a language to help plan your translation project? Does that mean you should skip the planning phase? Absolutely not!

Regionalisms, terminology, culture, style, tone and brand management can and should be discussed the the beginning of all translation projects, even when no Client-Side Reviewer is available to assist. For example, a marketing company localizing advertising for an appliance can and should discuss whether the ad should be aimed at young families and be upbeat and playful, or aimed at small businesses and be more technical and formal.

Clients who wish to work with a linguistic team for the long-haul should consider the benefits of hiring a reviewer if no Client-Side Reviewer is available in-house. This could be a permanent addition to your team, where substantial translation in a target language is needed, or contracted on project-by-project basis. There is no substitute for planning style, regionalisms, company jargon with the help of a reviewer. Ask your language provider to assist you in helping you select the right reviewer for your company.

Vocalink Global’s Translation Team works with Client-Side reviewers every day to ensure accurate translations that ensure the message is delivered in the right style for the target audience. Our GlobalBrand Solution guides you through the process of localizing or globalizing your message to ensure you are heard and understood.

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