Do you need to produce your collateral in a foreign language? Learn the basic information you need to know about translation services. Choosing the right translation company is essential to your international and multicultural success. Language translation professionals like Omni can help.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

When should I start my translation project?

Tempting as it may be to get your language translation project rolling as quickly as possible, make sure you have at least 90% of your copy ready before having translators work from a draft. Also, it’s a good idea to have an agreed-upon schedule in the project plan so revisions can be delivered at the appropriate milestones. This will save you money (and probably frustration) because of fewer revision cycles. Your translator should be equipped with Translation Memory software that will detect changes automatically, thus eliminating the burden of keeping track of the revisions.

How long does it take to have my project translated?

Translation is much more than retyping the text in a different language. It involves identifying the subject matter experts (SME), editing the raw translation, reformatting the document to accommodate for text expansion, localizing the graphics, recording the audio, and maybe more. All these steps take time and usually need to be completed in a linear fashion. If possible, organize your documents in order of priority. And rather than blindly translating hundreds of pages, decide which information is actually required to achieve your purpose. Realistic expectations are also important. Copy that took a team of writers 3 months to develop and revise might take a fair amount of time to translate depending on the amount of text and the subject matter.

Should I use images?

It is far more effective to use graphs, pictures, photos, and diagrams than drawn-out hyper-technical descriptions. However, be careful! Images, pictures and photos create feelings in readers, and what might look natural to you, may appear offensive to gender, religion, or etiquette in other cultures.

Should I do it myself?

Even if you can converse or negotiate in another language and have spent time in countries where those languages are spoken, most often your written command of a foreign language will be immediately recognized as “not-from-here.” Hire a professional because speaking doesn’t equate to writing.

Does Google Translate work?

There are times when translation software or online translation tools like Google Translate may be helpful for personal purposes. However, when producing business-critical documents, most people agree that software-generated translations are skewed, overlook localization cues, and increase the risk of errors that will reflect on the professional appeal and appearance of your communications.

Can I use the same translation for multiple purposes?

A product brochure is not a patent application nor is a newspaper article a speech. Style, word choice, phrasing, color, graphics, pictures, gender, and sentence length will all vary depending on where your text will appear, which language is used, the context of the story, and what you want to achieve. An experienced translator will ask you how the information will be used.

Are there translation specialists for certain projects?

As with English, writers are chosen because of their expertise in a specific industry – so should the translators. Talk to your translators or their managers. The linguists you choose should be experts in the area they are translating. Translators should not be learning the subject at your expense. A primary deciding factor for choosing your translators is to make sure the process and quality control are managed by highly-experienced professionals in the translation business.

My readers all speak the same language. Why might I need more than one translation?

People in Spain use a different form of Spanish than those in Mexico. British and Australians use different spellings than Americans. Are you translating for doctors and medical personnel or for patients? Some countries like Canada require documents be available in two or more languages; non-compliance can result in fines, or worse.

Why do translators ask so many questions?

No one reads your text more carefully than your translators. They are most likely to identify sections where clarification is needed. Consider a translator another pair of eyes for the proofreading of your original text. The more technical your subject, the more important it is that your translator knows it thoroughly. Whenever possible, know the specifics about the translator on your assignment and the requirements that validate him/her to work on your material.

Does typography vary from language to language?

Yes! The standards are different from country to country. For example, French inserts a space between a word and the colon that follows. All German nouns are capitalized. In Spanish, neither months nor days of the week take an initial capital. Arabic not only reads from right to left, but documents are bound on the right and open from “the back.”

How do I choose a translation service provider?

Glossy brochures help you understand what the seller wants you to know. However, the professional skills of translators and their organization should be based on experience. Always ask to see samples of documents they have translated, how long they have been in business, what are their processes for certifying translators and managing quality and production, and if they have experience in your industry – not just client names. Maybe just as important is their responsiveness. And make sure you check their references.

How do I know I’m getting a high-quality translation if I don’t speak the language?

Make sure your project is being done by subject matter experts (SME) who are native speakers of the target language. Before you give a translator a project, make sure he/she is qualified in both language and field of expertise. It’s a meticulous part of the process, but it assures your translation is done correctly the first time.

What is a translation memory and why is it important?

Translation Memory software is a tool that translators use to leverage previous translations. It does not translate text, but scans existing translations contained in a database, prompts any identical or similar phrases, and reduces the translator’s work by avoiding duplication. As a result, you get faster delivery, better consistency, and reduced costs.

How do you handle desktop publishing (DTP)?

Desktop publishing (DTP) is laying out text to produce a brochure or other design piece. Omni has developed a unique solution in which the translation and layout are as automated and seamless as possible so the foreign language version looks exactly like your English original. By exporting copy from the native application (such as InDesign), we can translate, verify, and allow client review and approval, all in corporate-friendly MS Word. The final copy is then imported back into the native application, thus maintaining the design integrity of the source document. Our process saves time and money, creates less potential for human error, and maintains the impact of the original.

Which software applications and formats do you use?

Due to our clients’ wide range of projects, languages, fonts, and layouts, we work with virtually any software on both Mac and Windows. Many software programs require additional versions or plugins to handle specific languages, and because we have these capabilities in-house, you receive turnkey service quickly and accurately, from translation to production.

How can I be cost-effective with translation and localization?

Whether you need the same information in different formats or have material that requires frequent updates, you can leverage existing translations to control costs and maintain consistency through the use of Translation Memory software. While it is obvious the human element is paramount to translation quality, computers are ideal for the mundane task of keeping track of data and retrieving it instantly. Translation memory tools scan existing translations, prompting any identical or similar phrases, which reduces the translator’s work by avoiding duplication. You get faster delivery and better consistency at reduced costs.

Are your translators certified?

There is no state certification process for translators in the United States. All of our language translation partners are full-time, native speakers who are highly trained in their fields, and have a proven track record of professionalism. We do not rely on individuals who have merely studied a language or are simply bilingual. Our translators are highly qualified, carefully selected, and trained to meet Omni’s strict standards of excellence.

Where are your translators located?

Everywhere! We maintain an extensive network of in-country translators to consistently deliver flawlessly translated material. Our translations are done in the target audience’s country to get the most accurate and current terminology and phraseology then verified in the U.S. to make sure the content and colloquialisms have been correctly interpreted.

I already utilize interpreting services. Can’t I have them translate written documents when they’re not busy?

Interpreters and translators specialize in different skills. Interpreters are adept at oral interpreting, public speaking, and solving complex linguistic problems. Translators excel at written translations, research, and producing work that your audience never suspects was converted from another language. Let each type of professional do his/her job.

What’s the difference between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation?

Most effective for smaller one-on-one meetings or group discussions, consecutive interpreters provide their interpretation during natural pauses in the conversation. Simultaneous interpretation is used most often during more formal meetings or large conferences where one person does the majority of the speaking at any given time. For example, the U.N. simultaneous interpreters listen to the speaker through a headset and speak the translation into a microphone for wireless transmission to audience members’ headsets.