Healthy businesses are always looking to cut costs. While translation costs are usually only a small fraction of overall expenses, they are not immune from this economical impulse. The good news is there are ways your company can shave costs without sacrificing the quality of the finished translation. Here are some tips to help your business reduce translation costs and ensure the highest quality translation:
DO: Be Concise
Translation cost is typically calculated by the number of words. When your text is succinct the word count is reduced and you benefit from a direct impact on the price of the translation. Concise writing is also easier to understand in any language.
DO NOT: Be Ambiguous
Clarity should not be sacrificed for brevity. When the text to be translated is ambiguous, the translator will either guess the intended meaning or contact the client and request information about what was intended. The first option creates room for potentially embarrassing errors while the second causes delays. Acronyms pose an additional challenge because they rarely translate easily. As a rule, use the full form. It is much more cost effective to create an original document with clear meaning.
DO: Reduce the Amount of Content to Translate
Ask yourself "What do I really need to be translated?" For example, there is no sense in translating your entire catalog for release in a new market if only half of the products will be available. Tailor your project to exclude any unnecessary information that would add to the cost without providing value.
DO NOT: Revise Without Reason
Document changes should be kept to a minimum. The cost of every change you make could be compounded depending on how many different languages are involved in the translation project. Reduce the number of files to be changed and you will directly reduce your translation costs.
Ensure that your documents are free of errors. Major errors that confuse meaning force translators to seek clarification or risk misinterpreting the text. Even minor mistakes add time and difficulty to the translation job.
DO NOT: Use Cultural Specific Language
Referring to Thanksgiving or the Dallas Cowboys may seem perfectly natural to us in the United States, but it is a headache for translators. A translation is worthless if the topic discussed is meaningless to the target audience. Make sure that all of your references and examples are geared toward your intended readers.
DO: Provide Context for Translation
Provide information on how terms will be used if no other context is available. All languages have words with different meanings depending on the context. For example, "lead" can mean "to go before" or "a heavy, grayish metal." Like anyone else, translators rely on context to determine the proper meaning of words. For example, if you have a spreadsheet of individual terms to be translated, include information on how each term will be applied or used. This will help you avoid costly mistakes or time-consuming clarifications.
DO NOT: Use Free Software for Translation Purposes
In an article about cutting costs, it would make sense to mention the option of using free online translation programs. In this case, you get what you pay for. While suitable for individual words or in informal settings, these programs are incapable of creating a quality translation because they simply translate word for word. They cannot understand context (see above) or engage the text on a deeper level. On the other hand, a human translator strives first to understand the meaning of the original document and then render that meaning into the target language. These programs are not really "free" when you count the cost of embarrassing errors or wasted time fixing their mistakes.
DO: Stay Consistent
You can improve the outcome of any translation job by ensuring that every phrase or sentence that conveys the same instruction, direction or meaning is written the same way. Professional translators use specialized software that will memorize specific words and phrases. When the same word or phrase is found in the text again, the translator is able to capture it. This reduces turnaround time and creates a consistency in the translation that also helps with end user comprehension.