Writers who write technical documents intended for localization need to pay focus on much more than verb agreement and active voice. These kinds of writers should also focus on rules that make it possible for translators to complement the original document in intent and in construction and minimize the cost of these translations in the process. When I researched articles and books on writing for localization, Best Breast Enhancement I did find one interesting fact. Following the rules for localization generally made the document better in English as well.
Some basic recommendations
In case you are serious about writing for localization, get this book, The Global British Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market. Until you get the book, here are some guidelines to get you started:
Make use of shorter sentences. Avoid nested clauses or phrases.
Recycle or repeat just as much terminology as possible: phrases, conditions, notes and warnings.
Avoid using words that have more than one meaning.
Use subjective as nouns and verbs as verbs.
Use 'that' in all those places you were taught not to use the word 'that. ' Removing 'that' as we were taught in Freshman English only makes translations harder and more subjective.
Avoid idioms. Prefer usages that are usually in an ordinary dictionary.
Give clear instructions to the translation agency. Make sure everyone is about the same page.
Maintain it simple with shorter sentences
This is always a good writing method. I have found that when I am wanting to write a concept and it the concept just are not able to be framed, I probably need to break up the thought into two or more sentences. It is like trying to put 10-pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag.
Keep in mind that sentence structures, even thought structures, are not the same globally. If you want as direct a translation as possible, do not use a sentence structure that is predominate only in English. It may get mangled fairly easily.
This is a great rule in that it helps the interpretation, helps the readability in any language, and it saves on translation costs. Obviously, you are using the same words for all of your UI settings or technical words but if you act like you start almost all of your user interface tasks with the same phrase, "On the command bar, select... " or "At the key window, pick... " You have just made the author's job easier, the translator's job easier, the user's reading experience easier, and you will not be paying for as much "fuzzy fits. "
This is correct for any words, phrases, paragraphs, such as notes, cautions, and warnings, or any constantly repeated and reused item. Repetition also puts the emphasis where it is supposed to be: on the content.
Idioms for the Idiomatic
Some idioms and idiomatic key phrases are so ingrained in our culture that we have become unaware that they are idioms. My best recommendation is to become aware. Several examples of words and phrases follow:
the base line
in most cases
bear in mind
Also, utilizing a word that has more than one meaning in The english language:
'since' when you really mean 'because. '
'figure out' when you mean 'determine. '
Rules for the Translation Agency
Guidelines breed consistency and they also set up reasonable expectations for your translated materials. In most cases, you would not want an interpretive translation of technical material. That means that you want your copy translated to match the form and function of your tasks, concepts and references. I didn't realize how important all this was until a translation company, a previously reliable translation agency, totally botched the translation of our newly minted DITA XML documents. They had done fine with the trial copies and in all languages but the majority of the completed files needed to be sent back for them to fix.
First, they said they could handle DITA XML when they really didn't understand what it entailed. Using their translation tool, it should have been simple. Strip out there the phrase, check the context, translate it, put it back in, no problem. Right? Oh, and validate the reconstructed file against a DITA File Type Definition (DTD). DITA has an element, menucascade, that allows you to enter a food selection item > menu item > food selection item structure.
For example, select File > Print. A few of the files emerged back with, "Select Print on the File menus. " Not so bad. However, many of these were 3-level cascades and they read like spaghetti by the time they were translated. But worst of all, it broke the program code.
Another example of interpretive translation occurred in the German translation. We noticed that some of the words were partially rendered in boldface font. We use boldface font for selectable UI controls and home windows. The translation agency provided a translation of the Results window like this, 'Ergebnisfenster. ' That do not work for all of us style-wise. We checked other German translations from other agencies and found that the norm was, 'fenster Bilanz. '
These are just some of the examples of agreements you must make before you go too significantly with translations. Here are some suggested actions:
Employ really good proofreaders to review your translated documents from the original English.
Keep a record of any and all disparities between your expectations and the converted documents. Use this listing on every new project with every new interpretation agency.
Create a Glossary of terms. This is an absolute necessity for most translation agencies.
Relax, have fun. This is easy.