Tips & Tricks for Translating Your Websites Language to Maximize Your Site's Growth

When you consider a website translation for a foreign audience, assess whether you want a simple word-for-word rendering or the communication of your website's ambiance and nuances into another language. Merely running your content through machine translation is likely to do more harm than good because it ignores such factors as language structure and cultural context. If you feel it is important to undergo the complex task of translating your website, you need to do it properly. Here are some things to keep in mind.


Source Material

Before you give your material to translators be sure it is ready. If your source text is unclear or poorly written, those defects will be magnified in the translation. Be as specific as you can so that your content cannot be interpreted in more than one way. If necessary, provide the translator with additional material such as an index, style guide, glossary and any other relevant information.


Machine Translation

Machine translation is simple and free on such sites as Google Translate, but it is notoriously inefficient in conveying precise communication. To test this, try using it to translate your content into another language and then back into English. Human translators do not create one-to-one equivalencies but shape language to convey the same meaning as the original. Machines cannot come close yet to duplicating the complexity of language, which is highly subjective and context-sensitive.


Computer-Assisted Translation

In computer-assisted translation, a human translator uses computer programs to aid in translation. This is not the same as machine translation, as the primary translator is still the human. The software makes use of dictionaries, glossaries, spell checkers, grammar checkers, terminology managers and other tools. Translation software speeds up the work by creating a memory of repeated phrases unique to the content. Translation memory programs find segments of previous translations and offer suggestions that the human translator is free to either accept, reject or edit. It is clear that in computer-assisted translation, the human translator is an integral part of creating and proofreading the final translation.


Length of Content

It is important to remember that when you translate content from one language to another, the length of the translation may be different than the content in the original language. This is less significant on a website than on a paper document, but it may impact the website's layout and formatting, so adjustment needs to be made for this.


Translation or Transcreation

Translation converts your content into another language. Transcreation goes a step further in not only translating what you have written, but adjusting it to fit the context and culture you are trying to reach. In transcreation, copywriters completely rework your text, tone and message. This takes longer and is more expensive, but the final product is specifically tailored for your proposed audience.


Finding a Translator

Your options include finding a freelance translator or a website translation service. Keep in mind, though, that the translation process includes not only a translator but a proofreader and editor as well. The advantage of using a translation service is that it will include people who can perform all these functions, and you do not have to hire separate individuals to perform each task. As translation is a major investment, be sure to research companies you are considering hiring. Look for lists of clients and reviews of their service. Check for certification by recognized bodies such as the Association of Language Companies, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) and ISO 9001.


Once you have found a translation service that meets your needs, consider hiring the same service for recurring jobs, as the translators will become familiar with your source content and be able to maintain consistency of style.


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