31 ene. 2009

Tools for Translators

ABPT Best Practices for Translators
Before beginning a new project, be certain you understand the client’s needs and expectations. Do not shy away from asking questions. Below is a list of basic guidelines you might find useful.

Getting Started
Read the entire document before beginning the translation. Unless the client gives permission, translators are not allowed to edit source text. If anything in the document is inconsistent or unclear, ask the project contact person about these issues. Also make note of any other documents mentioned and try to obtain a copy from the client (see Consistency).

Project Contact Person
Ideally, your client will assign a contact person to each translation project. Ask the client who will be available 1) to answer questions about the document and 2) to approve the translation. You should be in contact with both of them.

Your reputation as a professional is contingent upon reliability. Always meet the deadlines agreed upon. Never surprise a client the day you are supposed to turn in a translated document by saying that it is not ready. In the unique instance where you foresee that the document will not be ready, alert your client, giving this enough time to make the necessary arrangements. Further, never commit to a project that you know you will not have enough time to complete.

Always make sure you understand the layout requirements. Should the layout of the translation comply with any particular requirements? The client might prefer a facsimile of the original or that the target document and source document match page for page. Before you invest time replicating an elaborate layout, first make certain that the client wants the layout replicated.

Who is the intended readership of the document you are translating? Is it for the client’s in-house use or is it part of a promotional campaign that targets the public? Use the appropriate stylistic conventions. If the style of the source document is incongruous with the target audience, ask the client to clarify. The audience might be factory workers with no more than a 6th grade reading level. Do you use vocabulary and sentence length that correlates to the audience reading level, or do you use the same reading level as the source document? These issues should be addressed with the client. After all, why translate something that might not be understood by the intended audience? Make certain you understand the role of the professional translator under this scenario. Also be certain you confirm into which language variant the translation should be made. As you know, Castilian Spanish differs from Mexican Spanish, Simplified Chinese differs from traditional Chinese, and so on. Needless to say, the final proofreading should be done by someone from the same language region as the audience of the translation.

Is it necessary to translate the entire document? Consult with the client about sections or portions of the document that 1) are not relevant for the intended readers, 2) are repetitive, or 3) might not make sense to foreign readers. Also inquire as to whether tables and graphics (figures, diagrams, equations, flow charts, etc.) should be incorporated with the text, and if so, whether they should be converted into the appropriate system, if applicable. Translate only those portions of the document that need to be translated.

Make every effort to be consistent within the document and in future projects for the client. Of course, the use of Translation Memory (TM) systems is of great help and should be used, especially when multiple translators are working on the same set of documents. Before you begin, ask the client for a copy of documents that might relate to those you are translating. You can use the client’s existing terminology to maintain consistency.
As you come across new terminology, be sure to note industry-specific terms and transliterated items and check them throughout to maintain uniformity.

Terminology is another way of saying “specialized lexicography,” which is the “discipline dedicated to the collection and study of the forms and meanings of the words of a given language.” Once we specialize a lexicon to a particular field or discipline, we are referring to the corresponding terminology. Technical translation requires the mastery of specialized bilingual terminologies and their consistent use throughout the document and the company.

Why is terminology management important? Uniform and consistent use of terminology lies at the heart of effective translations. If the consistent use of terminology is ignored, terms could be used arbitrarily across documents, service instructions, marketing literature, etc. For the sake of clarity and understanding, the consistent use of terminology is critical.

It is important to establish and use a content system that manages terminology by subject field, taking into account the evolution of specialized concepts and language usage within the field. The system should be kept up-to-date by adding, deleting, and modifying data, ideally in real time. The system can then produce bilingual glossaries, vocabularies, and terminology standards.

Create a Glossary
If the client does not provide you with a multilingual glossary of words specific and unique to his or her organization, create one. This will enable you to ensure consistency within the document and on future projects as well as save you time (and the client money) later. Ideally, you will be using translation memory tools to aid you in this task. Tools such as SDL MultiTerm are valuable for ensuring consistency.

Cultural Issues
In general, clients should be advised that culturally specific references (sports, entertainment, humor) do not translate well. Translate these without the cultural reference.

Do not translate personal names or that of organizations, except in cases where the client asks you to do so. One option is to transliterate the name, then include the original after the transliteration. If this is not possible, simply leave the name in the original language.

Do not translate addresses. Leave them in the source language.

Use western numbers for addresses and phone numbers and convert measurements into the system used by that country (metric vs. customary). Ask the client for phone numbers that are local to that of the target audience. If you must use non-local numbers, ask permission to include the numbers for dialing internationally, such as the country code.

Spell out acronyms in the translation.

No Equivalent Meaning
When translating industry-specific material, certain terms may not have equivalent meanings in the language of translation. You have two options in these cases: transliterate and follow with an explanation in brackets, or if transliteration is not possible, leave the word in the source language and provide a translated explanation.

When working on a project that includes software as well as other documents (i.e., a manual), translate the software first and create a glossary of terms to aid in the translation of the additional materials.

Editing and Proofreading
Before turning in a completed project, have another translator edit your work. He or she may catch mistakes and be able to offer suggestions on problematic areas in the document. Another translator should then proofread the final product. The translated document should be checked for correct terminology, spelling, sentence structure, and syntax. The target text should read like a piece originally written in the target language.

Document Delivery
Before delivering the document, confer with the project contact person. How should the translation be delivered? Methods of delivery include paper, diskette, CD-ROM, electronic file, fax, and e-mail. If the translation is to be physically delivered, where and how? The client’s address, an intermediary, both? By courier, certified mail, FedEx? Ask if the source text and reference materials are to be returned as well. If not, should they be destroyed or retained? Finally, ask whether the translation must be certified. If so, acquire the certification before delivery (see Certification).

Client Communication
When clients have questions at any point in the translation process, respond quickly and professionally. Give as much information as possible and be open to collaborating with the client.


Preserve strict confidentiality with regard to any industry-sensitive material you translate. Be prepared to sign confidentiality agreements with your clients, but even if you are not required to sign an agreement, understand that you are still bound by confidentiality.

Certification by the American Translators Association (ATA) is not a prerequisite for working as a translator; however, in the U.S. certification is one way to recognize the competence and credentials of potential translators. You must be a member of the ATA to take the exam. A complete explanation of the exam and how it is graded as well as the exam registration form is on the ATA website (www.atanet.org).

With regard to certification of Translations, there is no official licensing in the U.S. nor any standard means of “certifying” a translation. The common practice when a client requests certification, however, is to attach an “Affidavit of Accuracy,” signed and notarized by a notary public, to the translation.

Continuing Education
The best translators are familiar with the subject matter they are translating. Make every effort to stay updated on current trends and advances in your area of specialization. Keep reading and practicing your native language, take courses, and stay abreast of cultural and linguistic developments.

© 2007 AMERICAN BUREAU OF PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATORS. All rights reserved. Reservados todos los derechos.

Eleven Things to Ask About a Translation Job

by Steven P. Venti
Anyone who wants to operate a business successfully needs to establish protocol for deciding whether or not to accept a particular job from a particular client. My personal philosophy is that the best way to develop a business is to build stable, long-term relationships with a wide variety of clients. Easier said than done, of course, especially in light of the fact that over the course of time you will find that there are always clients out there with whom you might prefer not to maintain long term relations. Yes, you heard me correctly. A translator shouldn't feel that it is only the client who has the right of refusal—a business relationship is a two-way street. That's why one important skill that a translator should try to develop is the ability to ascertain relatively early on just how deeply—if at all—to get involved with a particular job or client. The following list is intended to be a guide in obtaining the information you will need from a client not just to prepare a quotation and decide whether or not to tender it, but also to do a good job translating the document if you do get the work. There are other kinds of information that you will need, too, such as price and payment terms, but the focus here is on what you need to know to actually do the translation. Any client who is able to provide this kind of information without being asked is well on his way to becoming a valued customer. Conversely, if you ever run across someone who won't or can't provide you with this information, you might want to be very careful in your dealings with them.

1. What's it about?
The first thing you will want to know about any job is the subject matter. There isn't much sense in accepting or even doing an estimate for a job unless you are qualified to handle it yourself or prepared to find someone who is.

2. How big is it?
This might not be the most important question on this list, but nevertheless it always helps to be able to verify up front that you will have the time available to do the job, especially considering the fact that a lot of clients will blithely assume that theirs is the only job you have to work on. Which brings us to the next question.

3. When is it due?
Not surprisingly, the bigger the job, the more critical this question becomes, especially when someone shows up with 150,000 words that he wants done by the end of the following month and you are forced to ask yourself whether it is worth your while to cut yourself off from all your regular customers for the next several weeks. Are you really prepared to do 3500 words a day for an extended period of time to the exclusion of everything else? And don't forget that, like everything else, deadlines are negotiable.

4. What file format does the manuscript come in?
Have you ever found yourself wondering just what application you have to use to open a file with an "xyz" file extension? Verifying the file format before the job arrives can easily save you from having to search frantically on the Internet for a particular plug-in or software package.

5. What file format do I deliver the translation in?
I will even give a discount for a job that can be delivered as a text file because it obviates the need to deal with the issue addressed in question number six.

6. Should the translation be formatted?
Anyone who has ever had to "translate" a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel file knows the importance of this one. It is in a translator's own best interest to understand as well as to make sure that his client understands the difference between translating, editing, and formatting. And, no, they are not all included in a single price. For documents created in MSWord, I will usually format headings and do simple tables for no additional charge, and in fact providing that level of service is essential to establishing a reputation as a translator who provides value-added services, but be sure that your client is aware that this is something he is receiving for free—not something included in the price of translation—and that more complex formatting, such as working directly in Excel or PowerPoint, will require additional charges.

7. Is the manuscript a final draft, and are all the tables and figures referred to in the text included?
There is nothing worse than trying to translate a draft so full of typos, henkan-misu, and non sequitur that it is obvious that it was not proofread. And although there are times when the manuscript is written well enough that you don't actually need the tables and figures to see the point, they are few and far between. There is no excuse for the translator not receiving all the same information as the reader.

8. Will the translation be checked or edited by someone other than the translator?
Knowing that the translation will be checked and edited by someone else is not an excuse to be sloppy, but it is a good reason not to waste your time doing extensive formatting to a file that you already know will not be used "as-is."

9. Who is the author and who is the intended audience?
In this case, the question "who is the author" refers not so much to the identity of the author as the capacity in which he produced the text. Is it an in-house document written by an engineer for other engineers? Is it a business letter, written by the president of one company to someone in an equivalent position elsewhere? Or is it an operating manual, written by a technical writer for distribution to end users? These materials all have different objectives and styles, and it is just as important for the translator to know this as it was for the author.

10. Is the author available to answer questions? If not, is there anyone who is capable of answering questions?
Not surprisingly, much of the material that needs to be translated in real life is not self-explanatory. Nor should it come as any surprise that there are always some clients who can't seem to fathom why the meaning isn't obvious. All the more reason to have access to the person who knows best what it was he was trying to say.

11. How will the material be presented to the audience?
Is this material for publication? Will it appear in print, on the Web, or as a PowerPoint presentation? Is it a script for the narration of a video? All these cases require different approaches to everything from the idioms you use to how you format your text.

If you can think of any other questions that ought to be added to this list, please contact the author: spventi@nn.iij4u.or.jp

Copyright © 2002 Japan Association of Translators

5 ene. 2009

'Diccionario de onomatopeyas del cómic' registra 550 "traducciones escritas de los ruidos"

Luis Gasca y Román Gubern muestran la riqueza plástica y expresiva de un gran recurso del tebeo
Como ya hicieron en El discurso del cómic (1988), Luis Gasca y Román Gubern aúnan esfuerzos en Diccionario de onomatopeyas del cómic (Cátedra), volumen que documenta el uso en la historieta de más de 550 de estas "figuras retóricas de dicción y, más precisamente, iconos acústicos, pues aspiran a convertirse en traducción, oral y/o escrita, de los ruidos", en palabras de los autores.
El catálogo no se limita a las onomatopeyas puras sino que se apropia de sus "frondosos entornos". Cada entrada, de aaa ("suele designar un grito humano desgarrador") a zzz
El prólogo del inventario no se titula De la onomatopeya como una bella arte porque sí. Como explican Gasca y Gubern, "los dibujantes han trabajado a fondo y con mucha frecuencia la plasticidad de los significantes visuales de las onomatopeyas, que tienden hacia la iconización, con letras con perfiles temblorosos, en forma de dientes de sierra, con estalactitas en su borde inferior, etcétera". Esto es, la onomatopeya ha adquirido en la historieta categoría de recurso gráfico de primer orden y ha generado una "inmensa riqueza, tanto plástica como semiótica".
La potencia artística y expresiva de la caligrafía de la onomatopeya fue detectada por el artista pop Roy Lichtenstein, quien la empleó en obras como As I opened fire (1964). Otro tanto hizo William Dozier en la teleserie pop de los años 60 Batman, que enfatizaba con onomatopeyas dibujadas las peleas.
"El vistoso protagonismo plástico de muchas onomatopeyas, dominando por su tamaño espectacular la mayor parte del espacio de una viñeta", cuentan Gasca y Gubern, imposibilita su borrado y traducción, así que se ha producido "un fenómeno de exportación y universalización de las onomatopeyas". Boom (explosión) y bang (disparo) son casos paradigmáticos.