How to maintain high quality translations when using multiple translations providers
Large organisations, like councils, work with multiple translations providers. While understandable, it can present problems. Problems like consistency.
Projects are often time sensitive so organisations are not able to properly brief their providers. Instead, their focus is on turning documents around as quickly as possible. But this can result in inconsistencies that cause misunderstandings in the translation’s audience.
In this article we explain how to provide a full brief to translators to prevent this. At the end is a link to a downloadable resource with a template that will help you brief your translation providers.
What are you trying to achieve by translating a particular resource? Will the purpose of the translation be…
✴ Prevention (for example improving cancer screening)?
✴ Raising awareness (for example, improving healthy habits in cancer patients or recycling outcomes in a local government area)?
✴ Education (helping people understand council rates)?
✴ Something else specific to your organisation?
You will also need to set goals for your translation.
✴ What do you want it to achieve?
✴ What do you want people who read it to do? What action do you want them to take?
✴ What measurable outcomes are you hoping for?
Setting goals will make it easy to measure the results of your community translations project and evaluate the outcomes.
How will the translations be distributed? If you are preparing medical material, will it be printed and distributed through GP clinics? Or, will it be a page on an organisation’s website? Perhaps it will be posted on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram?
You will also need to know whether the reader will have help from a support person (such as a GP) to understand the information or whether they will read it independently, such as on their computer or mobile. This can dictate terminology choices and even graphic design features.
Giving translators access to previously translated content will provide plenty of information about the style, terminology and register you use. This will help achieve better consistency in your overall communications strategy and improve outcomes.
Ask your translations provider to create and keep up to date a glossary of terms for your organisation. For example, ‘breast cancer’ has three different translations in Spanish. Ensuring that the translators use the same translation across all your publications will lead to clearer communication.
Find out about their cultural backgrounds and languages.
First, identify which languages are spoken by your target community groups. Differentiate between the language spoken at home and the country of origin as they may be different. For example, in India the languages spoken include English, Hindi, Punjabi and Tamil.
Second, find out about their ethnic backgrounds, ages, behaviours and preferences for receiving information. This is important because ideas or even words can be understood very differently depending on the cultural background and beliefs of the audience.
Thirdly, check for low-literacy requirements. Is EasyRead / Plain Language required to ensure anyone who reads it will fully understand the message? Think about a complex sentence that includes jargon and how much more likely it will be for translators to misinterpret a concept or make the wrong terminology choice. Simple sentences and short words always work best.
What do you want the audience to do after reading the resource?
This could be to book a visit to a GP, go to a website page for more information or send back a completed form. Ideally, any given resource will have a single call to action, although quite often there is more than one.
How will you know if your translated content is accurate for the intended audience?
It is not enough just to trust your translation provider to deliver appropriate content. It is important to have checks in place that will ensure no mistakes have been made. This is critical when information is being imparted that could save lives, such as during the Covid crisis. We recommend the use of independent community checkers who can double check that the translated material achieves the objectives that were set out at the beginning of the project.
If you would like a downloadable info sheet with a template that can be used to brief translators, send us a message Contact Us – Sylaba Translations