Technical writer's guide for translation: review & link
Thread poster: KSL Berlin

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
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German to English
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Nov 25, 2008

I'm not sure if it is permitted to mention specific agencies by name or link to their sites from here, so I'll post a link to a review I wrote of the guide to technical writing for translation that I found there:

http://simmer-lossner.blogspot.com/2008/11/how-to-write-for-translation-essential.html

Click on the name of the agency in the first line of the review and it will take you to where the resource and another good one on localization can be downloaded.

The intended audience for this 36-page guide is technical writers who need to produce materials that will be translated subsequently, but there is a lot of useful advice for translators to

- help them work with clients to improve source materials or
- review whether their own writing as translators meets these standards and what might be done to turn "sow's ears" into "silk purses"


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Saskia Steur  Identity Verified
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English to Dutch
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Thank you, Kevin! Nov 25, 2008

Thank you very much! Very useful and very kind of you to share this.
Best regards,
Saskia


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
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The localization guide is worth getting too Nov 25, 2008

The guide to reducing localization costs published by that same agency is 16 pages long, and it's a superb overview and primer for end customers, agencies and translators on how to approach the process and what one's expectations should be. There are a few gaps - for me most notably the failure to mention the importance of test scripts for reviewers to follow when checking an interface (as opposed to automated test scripts) and the fact that virtual machines aren't mentioned as a testing environment - but everything else is spot on for establishing effective, efficient localization procedures and saving time and money. Translators who are considering getting into localization or localization consulting should have a careful look at this. (I won't get into the marketing issues involved in this - that's another can of worms.)

The author - Robert Kloiber - tells me that he has other useful guides, which will be released "on a drip feed" on his blog. If they are of this quality, they are worth watching for!

[Edited at 2008-11-25 08:14 GMT]


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Saskia Steur  Identity Verified
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I had already spotted that one, too ;-) Nov 25, 2008

Thanks, I had already spotted that guide, too. It seems very useful indeed.

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irina savescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:48
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thank you Nov 25, 2008

english is only a source language for me but this is still a great resource.
especially the "culturally inappropiate material" part which deserves a thread of its own.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
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I disagree with this Nov 25, 2008

"If  done  correctly  by  your  translation  vendor  there  is  no  need  for  cutting,  pasting  and reformatting of each language. "

This is utopia. If the translator has to stick to a given formatting, the result is often not satisfactory. It is really a pain when working in editors like TE.

But this is only a technical question, probably most of the article is valuable.

" Avoiding a justified paragraph style, especially when no hyphenation is to be 
used."
But this document itself does not follow this rule.

Regards
Heinrich

[Bearbeitet am 2008-11-25 10:29 GMT]


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
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I think you missed the point Nov 25, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
"If  done  correctly  by  your  translation  vendor  there  is  no  need  for  cutting,  pasting  and reformatting of each language. "
This is utopia. If the translator has to stick to a given formatting, the result is often not satisfactory. It is really a pain when working in editors like TE.
...
" Avoiding a justified paragraph style, especially when no hyphenation is to be 
used."
But this document itself does not follow this rule.


Utopia? No, it's reality. If all texts are done in MS Word or a text file and each language must be reset in the DTP program, the additional cost is enormous! There are enough ROI calculations to be found if the specific numbers interest you, but in general, it is unreasonable to expect clients to absorb higher costs just because a translator doesn't feel like adapting to a new workflow. If you have an rare, in-demand specialty or offer other advantages, you may get away with this. But you are still imposing higher production costs on your client, which I find simply rude. Yes, I'll agree that TagEditor is disgusting - that's why I use other tools. And TeNT technology doesn't always save time. However, you might consider compensating for the nuisance by charging higher rates for working with the tools. If your direct clients are saving money by you doing so, they should have no problem with paying you a bit more or perhaps a bit more than that.

With regard to justification and lack of hyphenation, it's important to note that the layout in the guide is single-column. One can usually get away with this in such cases in English, where the words tend to be short, so I don't see it as a problem in this document. Or are there places with a disturbing amount of extra space resulting from full justification of the line? Occasionally, manual hyphenation is needed, but that will be the case for very long words in any paragraph justification scheme. German, on the other hand, would be a layout disaster, with lots of extra, ugly white space between words. Multi-column layouts make all this worse, of course.


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RieM  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:48
English to Japanese
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Thank you Nov 26, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:

.... the importance of test scripts for reviewers to follow when checking an interface (as opposed to automated test scripts) and the fact that virtual machines aren't mentioned as a testing environment ...


Hi Kevin,

Thank you for introducing the paper to us. I haven't read it yet, and will do after the Big Turkey dinner this week!

Being in localization business for many years, I cannot agree more about the (lack of, in most cases) localization test scripts. I have run into a situation a number of times where the clients (developers) failed to provide anything - even roadmaps, for localization testing purposes. This has provided me a venue for business opportunities as well, and so I cannot complain

On the Heinrich's note and your response regarding formatting, I see both have points that I agree with. A legitimate format in source language could be totally unnecessary and should be deleted in target language. Last week I had to deal with one of those. When I see the "sea of tags" in prepared docs, be it on Trados or DejaVu, I fondly miss the days when translators were given just a text to be translated, then had a publisher take care of the rest. Yes, I know, it cost us huge in time and labor...

Rie


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
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Formatting for localization / translation Nov 26, 2008

Rie Matsuda wrote:
On the Heinrich's note and your response regarding formatting, I see both have points that I agree with. A legitimate format in source language could be totally unnecessary and should be deleted in target language. Last week I had to deal with one of those. When I see the "sea of tags" in prepared docs, be it on Trados or DejaVu, I fondly miss the days when translators were given just a text to be translated...


Rie, could you give some examples of such formats? I'm sure you're right, but my brain is too fogged to think of any myself at the moment.

In many respects, I agree with Heinrich far more than I suggested in my response. There are few things worse in translation than dealing with tag salad (or code salad if you are a DV user) in a CAT tool. However, the fault here lies more with utterly incompetent authors or persons involved with the source DTP production. After being seriously traumatized by a Word document that had more formatting than any InDesign nightmare I've ever seen, my "to do" list now has a research project on it in which I hope to develop some quantitative policies for surcharging documents with "too much" formatting.

But that does raise another point which Robert might want to add to a future version of his guide for tech writing for translation. That's the need to prepare documents properly by stripping out the kerning, optional hyphenation and other formatting features which are meaningless and merely disrupt the translation process. Almost none of the clients I work with do this preparation well at the present time, and since I got out of publishing when I moved to Germany, I never updated any of my DTP software to deal with this myself (nor do I intend to).


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RieM  Identity Verified
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English to Japanese
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hard space char Nov 29, 2008

Hi Kevin,

Sorry to have taken a long time to answer. Turkey must have made me sleepy... But you already know my answer:

[snip]
"That's the need to prepare documents properly by stripping out the kerning, optional hyphenation and other formatting features which are meaningless and merely disrupt the translation process."


There are more and more ill-formatted files these days, but once in a while I recieve a beautifully formatted document which in turn generates more codes/tags than I wish. Kerning is rare these days, but hard space are still there. In this particular case I dealt with recently, it wasn't totally meaningless even in target language (Japanese).

By the way, though this is toally beyond the scope of Robert's paper, there is another room for improvement when it comes to documenatation localization process - file organization. If you were once a DTP specialist, I bet you cannot count how many times your clients dumped a big bag of files on you and you had to sort out which ones should go to translation, which ones were obsolete, which ones were under construction .... The same thing ca be said with graphic files as well. It doesn't seem matter whether they use version control or not. I'm not good at tiding up either, but we can all learn.

Rie


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