Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Localization vs. Translation

Translation can provide difficulties in many formats. Some text is highly technical and requires hours of research to find appropriate terminology. Other text might have an idiom or play on words that doesn’t exist in the new language. These are dilemmas that translators must deal with daily, and this is where two forms of language services come into play. Localization vs. Translation. 

Translation’s first priority is the source text. It is the translator’s job to adhere as faithfully as possible to the original content. Without the liberty or freedom to alter the content, translators must be creative while still staying “inside the box” to come up with solutions that will be coherent and concise in the new language. Translators must always walk the line between literal word-for-word translation to stay as faithful as possible, and adaptation of the text to better flow in the target language. Where on that line of balance the translator lands will vary from project to project but staying closer to the source text is always considered the “safe” route. 

Localization is when translators have much greater freedom to alter the content in order to adapt it for the target audience. This might entail changing an idiom in the source text to a different idiom in the target that holds a similar meaning. In the case of an acronym or alliteration it may require even more thought and consideration to come up with a viable solution. Localization focuses the efforts of the translator on the target language. They must be willing, and have the authority, to change the original content and perhaps even alter the meaning to ensure better reception by the target audience. Translators often struggle to offer this service without very close communication and cooperation with the client. It takes a great deal of diligence as well as freedom to alter the content and can thus pose a lot of problems for those who are not the original content creators.

Outsourcing Translation to an LSP

Many companies face the internal decision of either outsourcing their translation needs or keeping them in-house. Over the past decade there has been a trend for companies to outsource as much translation work as possible, and for good reason. 

When keeping translations internal, companies face the choice of either staffing an entire translation department dedicated to translating various company documents or utilizing current staff such as sales or marketing reps to translate content. 

1. If you decide to create an entire department for translation, you must first have significant enough translation demand to justify hiring and paying salaries for dedicated translators. As with any company you can expect increases and decreases in the demand for translation over a given year. This can result in significant downtime for translators with nothing to do, or slow down production when everyone is waiting on the translation department to work on their content. 

2.If you decide to utilize current staff to translate content as it comes up, then you likely don’t have as high a demand for translations. This, however, means that you must take time from your employee’s standard day-to-day functions in order to allot time for translation. Additionally, in these situations we tend to see that employers assume that being bilingual automatically qualifies an employee to translate content, when in fact this is not true at all. Translators undergo years of training and practice to become proficient at the art and skill of converting content from one language to another.  Utilizing untrained staff for translation work can result in embarrassing errors, or mistranslations that can cost a company dearly.

Outsourcing translation work ultimately eliminates all these dilemmas. By working closely with an LSP, companies have access to a larger network of resources, lowered costs, quicker turnarounds, and greater flexibility. LSPs have the resources to build glossaries, store translation memories, access to content specialists, and stay up to date on industry standards and certifications.