Re: Writing English for Translation

Subject: Re: Writing English for Translation
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Roberta Hennessey <rahennessey -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 09:48:46 -0400

There is some good high level information and useful links here to get
you started:

We recommend using simplified English whenever possible, and advise
against any use of slang or jargon. Sentences should always be
complete and be consistent in structure.

Generally you want to develop your own localization style guide, as
you want to call attention to your conventions and why they are in
use. You're not just setting your documentation up to be translated
easily, but carry the same style and tone through to all of your
target markets (or specifically vary them toward specific markets).
Within your style guide you should ideally have a linguistic glossary
that details the specific meaning of words you use (look back to the
"jack" postings in the ongoing "name of receptacle" thread), and have
your localizers start pairing them up with proper translations and why
they are appropriate.

Short, straightforward sentences are best suited for localization.
Likewise, long paragraphs can become tediously long once translated
from English. Always account for expansion when writing and designing.
This is true for both content authoring and product development. When
using graphics and illustrations, use a number key instead of callouts
and include the labels in a table or list below the image. Avoid
typing into graphics, as translation of text in graphics usually comes
with a DTP charge.

If you decide to use (or are forced to use) any word play in your
content, plan ahead for specific different approaches for each market.
I've had many clients use creative acronyms that were not remotely
industry standard only to be told that they would not work in their
local target markets. Any industry standard acronyms should be
globally understood but confirm with your localizers via the
linguistic glossary.

There are many factors to consider when writing for localization, and
how complex you get depends on how many markets you intend to hit. As
you start on the basics and research into those needs, you will
undoubtedly uncover more.

Bill (a content strategist within a localization company)

On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 7:19 AM, Roberta Hennessey
<rahennessey -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> I am presently writing documents that will eventually be translated. Can
> anyone point me to any reference
> material they may use when writing for translation? I am thinking Style
> Guide, etc. I want to make sure the
> words I use can be more easily translated.
> Thank you.
> Bobbi

Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood

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Writing English for Translation: From: Roberta Hennessey

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