Do yourself a favor (writing for translation)

By MS Argüeso / November 23, 2015 /


Are there any best practices to ensure the documents we write are translated accurately?

Remember that bottle of wine you bought on your holidays and when you opened it at home, it didn’t taste at all like back at that village? Well, something similar can happen to documents – some documents just don’t travel well. To ensure they are translated to mean what you intended, I’ll list below some of the things you can do:

  • Use abbreviations but include an explanation at least once, for every abbreviation. This will ensure the appropriate term is used in the translated document, not the translator’s best guess (admittedly, most of the times she will be right but just in case)
  • Write paragraphs that contain several sentences, not one single thought over several lines of text –it may be clear to you, but may be interpreted differently by someone else
  • Sometimes you may want to be vague or not too categorical, and that’s fine, but please do not be unclear. If you write “Mild patients are patients who respond to initial treatments with 1-2 flares per year”, do you mean that treatment response included 1-2 flares or are you describing some patients who do respond to treatment AND have 1-2 flares per year?
  • Include localisms and colloquialisms prudently. You’re not writing literature, but a business report or a discussion guide that is going to be used in a few countries. Some stylistic touches may be confusing –best to play it safe
  • Have a final read of the document and make sure there are no missing words, commas or periods.

In other words: Respect grammar and meaning will clear.

Stay tuned for more advice on how to write a document that is going to be translated.