ABOUT YOUR TRANSLATION
Published February 14, 2012
As a bilingual voice talent and translator, I get to work with some great projects. It’s challenging and downright fun to be a part of putting a project together in a different language.
There are a number of us bilingual voices and translators in the business. I’ll bet I’m speaking for many, if not most of us.
One of the issues that we bilingual voice talents and translators have to deal with on a regular basis is the fact that often our main client contact does not know both languages, and therefore is somewhat at a disadvantage.
The way the process normally works is that we’re sent the copy to translate. Sometimes, the client trusts us enough to let us go ahead and voice the project, but usually once it’s translated, we send it back for approval before we voice it. Sometimes there are some minor changes offered by someone that the client asks to review our translation (usually someone in the office that speaks the translated language), and then we have the go ahead to record.
However, one of the things that I’m noticing more and more are changes that are different from what’s being said in the original language. That can be a problem.
See, our job as translators is to translate from the original language. It’s not really our job to change the wording. Now, certainly sometimes there are terms or colloquialisms used in the original language that we have to interpret by intent, but generally the original wording is all we have to go on. Often what happens is that the reviewer decides to change the wording, which may change the intent or meaning of the original language. However, if the reviewer is completely knowledgeable in the subject and both languages, that’s probably not a problem.
I have been asked numerous times why there may be so many changes in a translation review. There are several reasons for that. Sometimes the translator or reviewer is simply interpreting from their particular brogue, and choose to use a word or term that they are familiar with as opposed to a generic word or term. Sometimes it’s just a matter of preference. Sometimes the translator or reviewer interprets the project from a different style of language, as in academic over conversational. There are many others reasons why, but that’s for another discussion.
Let me suggest five things to do in order to smooth out the process and make sure you are getting the translation you need for your project.
1. Make sure your original language copy says what you want it to say.
2. Make it clear to the translator who the intended audience is, and what language style you want. Contrary to the commonly held belief that you need to write and voice for a specific region, it’s far more important to deliver the project for the specific audience, as in professionals or laborers, university educated or not, etc.
3. Before you send the copy for translation, ask the people you intend to have review the translation if they have any suggestions for terms or words to be used.
4. Make sure that the person reviewing the translation completely understands the original language, and understands the subject and terminologies.
5. Ask the translator to give you alternates to terms or phrasings that may be questionable in the translated language.
One other note. Since some languages tend to run as much as 25% longer than English, if your translator is working on copy that has to sync to an English video, remember to shorten the copy before sending it to the translator. Many a project has run into major cost overruns because of all the changes that had to be made after going to post.
With all the language boundaries being crossed in the world today, if you aren’t already doing some bilingual projects, you probably will eventually. It’s a challenge, but it’s completely doable with the right planning.