Rule 2

Set time aside to prepare for translations

The second rule necessitates a large effort on the part of a client and therefore often goes ignored. The rule is to set time aside before you order a translation to do the following:

  • Prepare reference materials
  • Create a glossary
  • Create a style guide

This can determine the quality of a translation, for it is no exaggeration to say that 70% of the quality of a translation is determined before a translator even begins his or her task. You can repeatedly reuse what you have created if you take the time to carry this rule out, so we strongly suggest that you do so.

Let us start with the easiest of the three to carry out.

Prepare Reference Materials

It is of course important for a translator to have excellent language skills, but a translator also needs to have the ability to internalize matters that he or she is not familiar with. This is because unlike in-house translators, who translate documents within a limited field, freelance translators take on translations of many different fields according to the client.

Translators are said to spend 20% of their time in actual translation while the remaining 80% of their time is spent in research and revision. Providing reference materials related to the document - whether a website URL, catalog, book or information related to other companies in the same business - will be useful in not only enhancing the quality of a translation but also in shortening the time for delivery.

Create a Glossary

Let's say that there is a company director whose name is written 東一郎 in kanji. There are often various ways to read the same kanji, so there is no way for an outside translator to determine whether this director's last name should be read "Azuma" or "Higashi." Or, let's say that the abbreviation "HKB" appears repeatedly in a document as the name of a department. (For your information, this stands for Hinshitsu Kanri Bu at one company, which is Japanese for Quality Assurance Department.)

Creating a glossary of proper nouns, in-house jargon and technical terms not only eliminates the need for research on the part of a translator but also has the added bonus of reducing inconsistency in the translation of a specific word or term. Furthermore, this will ensure consistency between the phrases used by in-house translators (or writers) and outside translators.

This is why we strongly suggest that you take time to create a glossary. If you are unable to spare the time to do this, you can ask the translation company to make one for you. There will be a charge for this process, but most translation companies should be willing to take on this task.

Create a Style Guide

A style guide sets the rules about how things should be written in a translation. When translating into Japanese, for example, it can regulate whether sentences will be in "desu/masu" or "dearu" styles, or whether non-Japanese words will be written in katakana or left as is in Roman characters.

This said, however, there are very few clients who have created style guides for use in translations, but they can also be useful when sharing your image of the finished translation with a translation company. This is why we strongly recommend that you have one.

You don't necessarily have to create a style guide from scratch. You can utilize a style guide possessed by a translation company. Note, however, that if much of your translation needs are for documents like press releases, creating your own style guide will ensure that they will be written in the same style and will be well worth your trouble. You can also use the style guides of newspapers and publishing companies as reference when creating your own.

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