Why all the questions or how to cooperate with your translator

QuestionsHow to recognize good translators? They ask questions before and during their translation. Not because they lack knowledge or experience. Quite the contrary. It is a part of the translation process leading to a high quality text that will suit your needs and help you achieve your purpose of attracting new website users, game players or customers, spread the message about your brand or accomplish any other purpose you may have. That’s why answering questions of your translator can only bring benefits and ignoring any inquires may result in misunderstandings or ambiguities in the target text.  

General questions

Before beginning with the translation process, your translator will probably ask you about the general context of your text, the purpose and reason for the translation and the target audience. The same text may be translated in a different way depending on the target readers, e.g. an operation manual for laymen will include explanation of difficult technical terms and will be written in plain language, whereas the same manual translated for experts may contain more complicated terms without additional explanations. You may be also asked about the text style, target language variations (e.g. American or British English, Austrian or Swiss German) and required terminology. Finally, your translator may need reference materials such as beta software in case of software localisation or previously translated strings in case of game localisation.

Source text related questions

Another group of questions is related to the source text itself: is it the final version? Has it been proofread and edited? Quite often additional updates are sent to translators when the translation is already in progress. This may result in difficulties to meet your deadline, so try to deliver the final version of your text or consider extending the deadline. Your text may also contain abbreviations with unclear meaning or phrases and names typical of your company which are known to your clients but unclear to other readers. Your translator has to be sure what they mean, so don’t get disappointed or irritated if you receive a request to specify certain expressions. Finally, if your text contains strings from an application or website that are not stored thematically, you may be asked to clarify the context or provide the function of certain strings and buttons.

Responding on time

The above questions are just some examples of what you can expect. If answering the inquiries of your translator seems to be a daunting task, here is a reason
to cheer up: usually you’ll receive all the questions in one e-mail or one phone call to save your time and effort. Try to provide the answers on time, without waiting until the last minute to let your translator consider the information provided by you and convert it into translation perfectly adjusted to your needs. All in all, the extra time spent on providing the necessary background information will be the time invested in the success of your company. 

 (Photo by D. Pawlak)


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Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.

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