Common translation and localization mistakes you should avoid

Translation and localization
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Everyone makes mistakes, but there are costly mistakes, especially to a business. Being aware of possible translation and localization mistakes can at least help you minimize them, or even better, eradicate them completely.

Translation and localization should still be in a human translator’s hands

Who would know better how to translate documents or websites into another language and adapt that content to a specific market, a machine or a human translator?

inaccurate translate

Relying on machine translation

Machine translation is a very useful tool. It enables most words to be converted to the target language thoroughly and very quickly. Unfortunately, it converts words in the order that it finds them, and not all languages follow the same order. It also doesn’t account for subtle differences in the corresponding words in the target language based on the situation involved.

A translation tool is just that, a tool which can be used on occasion, but it’s not good enough to use when business is involved.

Not using a native translator

As much as non-native translators are good, there is nothing like a native translator. They will not only know the literal meaning of words, but also any shades of meaning or hidden expressions. A lot of marketing campaigns and product launches have been ruined by not knowing hidden meanings in seemingly innocent words, hidden meanings that a native would know.

A non-native translator can also translate using the language in the textbooks that they have studied, which is the formal kind. A native translator would know how to adjust the choice of words to match the intended tone of the original document, be it formal or casual. A non-native can only do one kind of translation. A native can do translation and localization.

Not using a proofreader

No matter how much you trust the translator, and no matter how good their track record is, they are still human. Anybody’s work could always use a fresh pair of eyes to spot mistakes or at least to give it a more polished or natural feel.

Sometimes a translator will be so caught up in translating the content literally that they would forget there are better words or better arrangement of words that can be used in order to translate the meaning of a phrase. When proofreaders accept the work, the literal translation part is done, so they can focus on making your content sound like it wasn’t translated at all, but composed for the intended market from the beginning.

The best bet is to go with a well known translation agency which provides you translation, localization and extra proofreading in one package.

not using proofreaders

Common Technical Mistakes

These mistakes are because the translator sticks to the format of the original text and makes some optional punctuation, structural, or grammatical errors. The most common ones include:

  • Keeping the same format of dates, titles, currencies
  • Following the related sentence length
  • Using the same phrases as in the source language
  • Maintaining the same word order as in the source language
  • Using the identical punctuation as in the source language
  • Not changing the verb tense

Common Personal Mistakes

Translators make these mistakes because of personal reasons that most frequently include:

  • Overconfidence because they have translated similar texts a lot before and avoid paying too much care to this particular one
  • Exhaustion because of working too many hours in a row
  • Translating with lack of enthusiasm because it looks too dull, too long or they feel they are underpaid
  • Not paying attention to the newly adopted technology

Good translation and localization services may not be always quick and cheap but the quality you get is well worth the time and money spent.

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