Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to create Translation-Ready Materials

Your time and cost can be saved by creating documents that are developed with translation in mind – from the beginning. Minor issues in small files like instructions manuals or catalogs can quickly become time consuming and require hours of formatting before translation can even begin. Consider how your catalogs, manuals, or documents are assembled. There are several areas where a file and its content can be optimized for translation.

1. Table of Contents
A correctly set up table of contents will be automatically recreated in the translated version, potentially saving hours of costly and manual post-translation formatting work. Keep this in mind, your goal is to minimize the need for desktop publishing. Please note, that languages grow and/or shrink as they are translated.

2. Non-editable elements
Do you have headings in your file? Are these editable text, or converted to outline text (stylized)? A common detail of design agency-created content is outline text headings, which need to be manually recreated in order to edit the text. It is advisable to avoid using outline text unless your goal is to prevent the text from being edited.

The 'f.y.i.' and company logo graphics are examples of non-editable elements
You can used outline text effectively for any content which should not be localized, such as product names, company divisions or industry-specific regulation names.

3. Graphics

Text in graphics is another common feature in many types of documents. Whenever possible, avoid the use of text in graphics and choose editable keys instead. Again this is because translated text grows and/or shrinks. If your graphic does fit the new translation, your layout and graphic could appear skewed. This includes numbers in the image, and text under graphics.

Also, plan for what you don’t want to translate, as well as what you do. Placing all non-translatable content in a separate InDesign layer, for example, ensures that requirements are clear and saves on manual preparation time. Your InDesign layer, the one with non-translatable content, can simply be hidden. With your content hidden, the translation team will focus on everything else, text, layout, and formatting.

Our translation team fields best practice questions regularly, we are happy to answer any of yours, feel free to give us a call.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Translated Languages Grow and Shrink

One of the dynamics in translating languages is the increase or decrease in word counts, which can increase or decrease pagination.  So, what is word count?  Word count is the total number of words counted in a particular piece of content needing translation. Let's use this phrase as an example of word count, "Make content development accessible to all team members" has a total of 8 words. Now let's translate the same phrase into Spanish "Haga que el desarrollo del contenido sea accesible para todos los miembros del equipo". Whoa, that's quite a bit more words then the original. Let's review the Chinese translation, "讓團隊的所有成員都能參與內容開發". Well, that certainly makes a difference in word count, too. 

The increase or decrease in word count affects the layout of content, which can affect the contents pagination. So what is pagination? Pagination is the process of dividing (content) into pages, either electronic pages or printed pages. Meaning after your company’s manual has been translated into Spanish or Chinese, the page count and format may not maintain the same pagination as the original English version. Due to each languages' word count, your company’s manual may need reformatting to ensure the same information is displayed and maintained in a similar format when compared to the English version.  An example of a typical page(s) that frequently requires reformatting following the contents translation is the table of contents.  The table of contents may need updating and often times reformatting due to the increase or decrease in page counts of your newly translated content. 

Most language companies quote translation projects based around 2 variables, word count and formatting.

TL; DR: Translations cause content to grow or shrink in size due to the nature of languages. This, in turn, requires content to be reformatted for layout, readability, and continuity.

Visit us at and learn how your content will increase or decrease in any target language. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top Interpretation and Translation Language Provider In North America

At CTS LanguageLink we believe in and support the saying, “Managers are appointed and leaders emerge.” This mentality led us into the top 10 of Language Service Providers in North America. A 2013 Common Sense Advisory (CSA) report ranks us 8th out of the 30 largest translation and interpreting suppliers in North America. CSA is an independent, Massachusetts-based, globalization industry research company.

We’re thrilled to be included in this report. We are working hard in scaling our interpretation platform and cultivating our list of linguists,” says Kimila Johnson, VP of Sales and Marketing.

Our Translation and Interpretation divisions continue to experience growth year over year. Our Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) contract needs are evolving, pushing and optimizing our back-end system. This is great news for all of our customers. Our Client Portal displays customer metrics and activities that no other Interpretation and Translation company can provide. We are seeing an organic increase in demand for localization in all types of markets, in community organizations, in video-game development, and for board games. Meaning, the world is shrinking every day. Our own Interpretation and Translation usage metrics mirror industry trends. These trends show strong and steady growth, as language needs continue to rise both for the domestic market and globally.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Five Questions For Your Localization Vendor

It's better to localize your software/app during development vs after development. Because during development you can include extra line breaks, space, and other engineering buffering in preparation of your vendor's localization actions and requirements. 

Fortunately, you can apply the same questions and follow up in post-development. It is important to note that localization in post development takes a bit more planning and review. That does not mean it is not worth your investment, actually it is quite the opposite. Localizing your app/software can help you make a sale or teach a skill to an entirely new user base.

We like to encourage proper planning because it makes the localization process smoother if it occurs during your development. Now it's time to ask your localization vendor the hard questions:

1. Do they have experience in working with software and apps?
If yes, do they have any examples and references to share with you? We know print and software are worlds apart; typically print is served in a single format which a vendor can plan for. However, software and apps are served across multiple platforms and browsers which can lead to a multitude of issues. 

2. Has your potential vendor localized anything similar to your software/app? 
Again just because a vendor has "localized" an XML document does not mean they understand and/or are ready for a project like that of a roleplaying game on the Android or iOS platform. Get a couple quotes - shop around, comparison shopping empowers you and will assist you in whom to proceed with and whom to ask follow up questions to.  Such as, how long it will take, why does your process take longer compared to other potential vendors?

From our perspective as localization specialists, we believe providing quality engineering in a reasonable timeline should be one in the same, instead of settling for just one of these two features.

3. What are the vendor's QA (Quality Assurance) processes?
We have a very extensive QA process. We are personally huge sticklers when it comes to QA-ing a client's project. One of the necessary tools for our QA process is a sandbox environment. A sandbox is a testing environment that isolates untested code changes and outright experimentation from the production environment or repository. Does your vendor provide a sandbox environment? 

Localization experts review and test the app/software for proper localization flow, line breaks, and a whole host of additional details.  Our linguists localize content in 2 places. The first, in an isolated environment, giving the linguist the ability to read and localize copy by itself. The second place is the software's Sandbox environment where they review the content once it has been placed. These necessary steps ensure your content has proper flow and its context is maintained. Be aware that quality comes at a cost beyond price.

4. Does your vendor have processes in place for your upgrades and Add-ons?
Such as text updates/changes, new or additional images. Will the updates be done by the vendor or by you the developer/user.

5. What are the vendor’s rates for updates and changes to text? 
Sometimes you're not the Project Manager but you are handed the project, will your vendor provide training on how to make changes and updates?

Proper localization engineering is important because it directly impacts your users and their experience with your product which can have long term implications. Localizing your app/software can be a large task, but these initial vendor questions you will have off on the right foot. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What Is Localization?

Localization, also referred to as the numeronym L10N ("L", followed by ten more letters, and then "N"), is a higher level translation process of adapting an application, product, software or service to a new language and culture. 

Localization is utilized in the culturally adaptive translation of everything from board games and books to software and websites.  From global dissemination to a granular focus on individual language and culture use where several different dialects are spoken within the same geographic region Localization, addresses all of the non-textual components translation.  Localization is cognizant of cultural customs and sensitivities that, if not addressed, might cause an organization to lose business due to what can be perceived as insensitivities or even offensive elements in the target market translation.

For example, an eLearning application developer is seeking to translate their application from English to Chinese and culture the application specifically to the Shanghai region.  The Localization process manages that translation and accounts for the correct translations, fonts, textual contraction/expansion, audio, and styling the UI format to that specific regions cultural requirements.
English e-Learning Course
Chinese e-Learning Course
Beyond idiomatic textual translation, Localization, also incorporates currency, gender roles, geographic examples, local color/format sensitivities, local holidays, product or service names and time zones.  A completed localization project provides a product or service that appears to have been developed in the local target culture.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lip Syncing, Dubbing, Subtitling, How Does it Work?

Voice dubbing and lip syncing, how does it work?

Quality lip syncing and dubbing go hand in hand as matching the re-recorded audio with the lips of the live actors. Quality lip sync dubbing provides a true multimedia experience. 

Syncing foreign-language audio with the lips of the actor on screen requires:
  • Dialogue translation to match the lips of the actor on screen.  Often, the linguist translates the dialogue directly from the video, which takes longer than translating directly from a script. 
  • The linguist to categorize different sections of dialogue by character. 
  • The linguist or an editor to note the time code for each character’s dialogue so the sound engineer can find them. 
Post-production dubbing process requires:
  • A copy of the video, the original audio, and a program that allows simultaneous audio recording and video playback. 
  • A sound engineer to run the computer and recording software. 
  • The voice talent to record the translated audio while the video plays silently in front of him/her to. 
  • The voice talent to review and approve the synced audio recording, which can be very time consuming.
  • An editor views the synched audio/video and adjusts it to match perfectly.  If some audio is off-sync, the voice talent can return to re-record certain sections to match the lips of the actor.
  • The voice talent, or preferably an additional native speaker, views the film and notes any problems with the translation or lip synching of the audio.

This less-precise method involves noting the time-code (the length of time for specific sections of dialogue), categorized by characters.  This dialogue is then translated from the script to fit within the noted timecodes.
  • The voice talent records the dialogue to fit the timecode, without a video feed.
  • An editor takes the foreign audio recording and lays it back to sync exactly with the video time code.  The editor will then position the audio to match the lips of the actor.
  • Often, the audio does not match exactly, and portions of the front and back are too long or too short.  If this is noticeable, the voice talent returns to shorten or lengthen the audio recording.  On occasion, a new translation is needed for portions of dialogue to shorten or lengthen it. 

Foreign audio dubbing never matches perfectly with the original video. It is always noticeable. 
Quality lip syncing and dubbing can be a lengthy process. Timecode dubbing is potentially cost effective, but it does not provide the desired experience with your intended audience. 

One of the most effective ways to translate narrative films is to subtitle them.  This insures the performance of the actors is preserved. The original actors’ expressiveness on screen is much more than simply their words.
  • Even if we do not understand the language they are speaking, we get a lot of emotional meaning from the style in which it is being conveyed.
  • The human eye can only read a certain number of words per minute, and dialogue is usually spoken faster than the audience read it.
  • The translator adapts the translation so that it accurately conveys the original dialogue within the rules of average reading speed.

Many languages require more words than others to express the same idea, creating an entirely new linguistic challenge. Given these issues, you can begin to understand that it takes far more than language proficiency to adapt dialogue or narration for subtitling.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Top 5 Translation Myths To Know Before Your Project Starts

Many people are unaware what goes into translation projects, or believe common myths about what translation is. Let’s take a look at some common misunderstandings, and compare them with the truth about translation.

Myth 1: Translation is the Same as Interpretation
Language interpretation deals specifically with the spoken word between users of different languages. Language translation, on the other hand, is the activity of transferring a written text from one language to another. The translation process can be viewed as a way of introducing linguistic as well as cultural equality by enabling both people and businesses communicating empowering information, health care needs, or legal resources.

Myth 2: Anyone Can Translate
Translation has become a much-needed tool for many businesses as the world becomes smaller and more countries start to do business with each other globally. However, the myth that anyone can translate, is just that – even those professing to be bilingual often translate in a sketchy and inaccurate way. Industries such as enterprise, healthcare, legal and government entities cannot afford inaccurate translations. The translation skillset is only effectively developed, and improved upon by translators that have certification, that have been tested and most importantly have professional experience. Translation is a skill like a language in itself.

Myth 3: Design Files Are Not Needed
A translation company's completed translation has to be in context and needs to be in the same style as the original, untranslated, text. For example, a humorous piece has to be translated with that precept in mind, and in the style that will be understood by the reader of the translated text. In other words, French readers need to laugh at the content, as well as the original English readership did. At CTS LanguageLink design files are a key factor in the quality of a completed translation project. A translation company should be able to preserve the integrity of your source files so that when read back after translation, it reads very much as it was supposed to.

Myth 4: Machine Translation Replaces Human Translation
Machine translation cannot replace human translation. If it’s continuity and accuracy you need then a machine is simply not going to step up to the plate on that one. It’s a myth that you can translate with an internet-based web translator and expect your text to read back with accuracy and the right flow. Industries such as enterprise, healthcare, legal, and government entities can appear wholly unprofessional if translating a block of text into pidgin English, or poorly-worded Spanish. Or worse, in that a poorly translated document, such as operation directions or medication procedures, could put a person in danger. Furthermore, if a business in France sees incorrectly-translated text, it can be offended, as its language is well respected within its own borders – and that surely will not be good for your business.

Myth 5: Immediate Project Turnarounds When Quality is A Priority
CTS LanguageLink translates and formats millions of words every year while still taking the time to get the quality right. If you are after an immediate turnaround, then be extra sure your translation company is not curtailing quality just to get your content translated quickly. CTS LanguageLink utilizes a 10-Step Quality Assurance Process; it uses a number of checks and reviews to ensure the highest degree of quality. A job rushed can so often be a job that lacks quality, accuracy and could prove dangerous.

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