How much context/info is needed to get the tone of voice right in a translation
Thread poster: UX_EasyTranslat

UX_EasyTranslat
Denmark
May 24

Hi guys,

I am trying to figure out a way to make sure, that clients provide translators with enough information for translation to ensure the right tone of voice.

How much information do you need to translate a document in the tone of voice that the client is looking for?

Do you need examples?
Are a few keywords enough?
Or what do you prefer?


 

Heike Holthaus  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:48
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
Thank you for taking the time to find out :) May 24

These are some thing that immediately come to mind:

Target audience
Purpose of the text: instruction, marketing etc. (if not obvious by the type of text)
Where will it be published? Print, website or social media?
References: in particular client website, previous material, social media feeds


Kevin Fulton
Philippe Etienne
Tina Vonhof
Teresa Borges
Sara Massons
Josephine Cassar
neilmac
 

Sara Massons  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:48
Member (2016)
English to French
+ ...
A few more things May 24

In addition to what Heike already said :
- age of the target audience if it is not obvious (children, teenagers, adults, 3rd age...)
- gender of the target audience when specific and not obvious from the text itself
- client special expectations (sometimes they ask for a more casual or a more professional tone even if it is not what immediately comes into mind for the target audience, etc...)


neilmac
IanDhu
Philippe Etienne
 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:48
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
What May 25

Besides those mentioned by the previous persons, sometimes a text is labelled as 'contract' but, in reality, apart from the normal legal content, it would contain a lot of other 'technical' or medical or whatnot, so the translator has to be well versed in technical, medical or whatnot so as to be able to translate the text and that is where the difficulty arises.

neilmac
Philippe Etienne
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
intermediate goals -vs- the final result May 25

While some rigor and hard-to-please customers send (A) approved samples and (B) TMs/glossaries, the (1) the audience should easily understand the info and (2) come/jump to a certain conclusion, not/doing something.

Sure, the issue is deeper and wider than infamous verbatim translation vs. localization vs. transcreation/copywriting.


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:48
Member (2005)
French to English


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


And the client glossary... May 25

Josephine Cassar wrote:

Besides those mentioned by the previous persons, sometimes a text is labelled as 'contract' but, in reality, apart from the normal legal content, it would contain a lot of other 'technical' or medical or whatnot, so the translator has to be well versed in technical, medical or whatnot so as to be able to translate the text and that is where the difficulty arises.


... if it exists, and make sure it's the client's latest edition.

I realise this may be off-topic, but as guidance for Josephine, I suggest that, whatever a translator's specialist field, it is a good idea to be forearmed so as neither to waste the client's time with enquiries about industry-standard terms, nor to appear callow in the client's eyes.

Accordingly, for contracts and invitations to tender, I have three main resources:

First, the Ernst technical dictionary series;

Secondly, the Moureau-Brace petroleum dictionary;

both of these are classics.

Thirdly, a collection of what the French call "bibles": unpublished or limited-circulation material. I may still have a thick, hand-bound glossary from an aeronautics manufacturer, and I cling to a slim volume of oil-exploration terms (geophysics).

Such resources are often useful in neighbouring fields.

I hope this helps.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:48
Member (2018)
French to English
. May 26

I would say that you mainly need to know the field you're working in and if that's not patently obvious you're in big trouble!

Whenever I get a job outside my comfort zone, I spend a while reading the subject up, in English, making note of buzz words and getting a general feel for the way these people express themselves.
This kind of becomes a "mindset" that I then have to enter in order to produce the translation. So I seem to have a "cosmetics translations mindset" and a "f
... See more
I would say that you mainly need to know the field you're working in and if that's not patently obvious you're in big trouble!

Whenever I get a job outside my comfort zone, I spend a while reading the subject up, in English, making note of buzz words and getting a general feel for the way these people express themselves.
This kind of becomes a "mindset" that I then have to enter in order to produce the translation. So I seem to have a "cosmetics translations mindset" and a "fashion translations mindset" etc. all lurking somewhere in my brain. It works on an intuitive level, nothing scientific about it at all, but it does work somehow.
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Teresa Borges
Jocelyne Cuenin
IanDhu
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:48
Chinese to English
What we need vs what the client should tell us May 26

For most pieces, to be honest, we need very little information to pick an appropriate tone or voice in a translation. Usually the information is all there in piece itself, or can be intuited from it, particularly when you have a good amount of experience.

But on the other hand, if there is something that the customer needs us to know, it would be really useful to have that in advance. It may take a little prodding, because often customers haven't thought about their texts in as much
... See more
For most pieces, to be honest, we need very little information to pick an appropriate tone or voice in a translation. Usually the information is all there in piece itself, or can be intuited from it, particularly when you have a good amount of experience.

But on the other hand, if there is something that the customer needs us to know, it would be really useful to have that in advance. It may take a little prodding, because often customers haven't thought about their texts in as much detail as we think about them. Of course customers don't want to fill out a long form, but you could consider a short briefing sheet, something like this:

Who is the target readership for the translation?
Where will it appear?
Does the text include any unique terms that the translator can't find on your website (e.g. job titles, names of future products)?
Are there any terms that the translator must avoid using?
Does your company use a style guide (in the source or the target language), and have you provided it?

Most of the time, translators can work most of this stuff out for ourselves, but questions like these may jog a client into providing some useful detail.
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Michele Fauble
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:48
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Variant! May 26

The very least we need to know is the variant needed, for languages that have them. I don't know how many times I've wasted time quoting for jobs, only to be told - when I've asked - that they want American English. I can go most of the way there but for marketing jobs it's better to have someone who really is a native speaker of the variant. Oh, and "international" does not exist as a variant of English. !"

Kay Denney
IanDhu
 

UX_EasyTranslat
Denmark
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! :D May 27

Thank you for all of your inputs.
They are all really useful.


 


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