Since 2023 started, each week we’ve been posting what we’ve termed an “LKTip” on our social media channels – a small snippet of advice that we’ve picked up over our years in translation. Sometimes an LKTip is about dealing with the types of problems that come up in German sentences, sometimes it’s about crafting better English text, and sometimes it’s about more niche points like settings in translation software. Whatever the case, we hope that they’ve helped some translators as they tackle their texts!
Social media has a fleeting nature, however, so we also wanted to create a more permanent record of every LKTip. So we’ve decided to compile our posts for January and February in this blog post, and we’ll keep creating similar posts with new batches of tips in the future!
Be a bookworm
Today’s LKTip is a pretty simple one. Two words, in fact…
When you were a young’un eating your cereal before school, did you sit and read the back of the cereal packet? Well, that’s a useful habit to keep up in a translation career too!
- Keep an eye on the writing that’s all around you – ads, packages, magazines, newspapers, blogs, labels, signage and everything else – because it’s all fodder for engaging your writing brain while you’re translating. Part of being accurate in translation is reflecting how the world as it is now talks about whichever subject you’re writing about, whether you deal with things like technical manuals (like us) or you do actually translate cereal packets.
- Read things like journals and magazines, and subscribe to social media channels about your specialist subjects – and, if it helps, try listening too: however niche the subject, there’s bound to be a podcast or radio programme about it somewhere!
- And if you’re more of a generalist, simply reading and paying attention to language is a great habit for honing your writing style too.
Location, location, location
Sometimes, detail is good – for example, a lot of your customer’s brand identity might be tied up in a specific region (the Black Forest, for instance).
Other times, all the reader might need to know is which country you’re in – so you don’t have to translate “the town of X in the region of Y in the state of Z”, even if all that info is in the source. Always ask yourself what you actually need to tell the reader!
A quick LKTip for projects involving multiple PDFs today! Did you know that you can search them all at once (assuming the content is searchable)? Just make sure they’re all in the same folder, then open Advanced Search under Edit in Acrobat Reader, point to the right folder and enter your search term. Easy!
An LKTip for Trados users today!
- Don’t forget your filter function that’s there to help you – you’ll find it on the Review tab. If you’re making global changes to a term, for example, or you just want to check you’ve been consistent, it’s a much more efficient tool than just using the standard Find function to jump from one segment to the next, as it’ll condense your view down into only those segments where you’ve used the term in question. You can even press Ctrl+F6 to jump straight to the search box in the menu!
- There’s also an Advanced Display Filter that gives you even more options, allowing you to filter according to a whole variety of combinations. You’ll find it in View > Information on the top ribbon.
Don’t autopropagate on autopilot
We’re looking at Trados again for today’s LKTip!
The autopropagation tool *can* be super handy, especially if you work with repetitive documents like manuals. But….use it wisely. Here are a couple of examples:
If your segment contains numbers containing punctuation (e.g. your customer prefers you to write “3,000”), autopropagated segments won’t always carry that over, so you need to check that you don’t end up with “3000” in the others.
If you work with DE, you might have the same structure in 2 segments translated differently (e.g. “Daten sammeln” –> “Collect the data” or “Collecting the data”), so don’t autopropagate blindly.
In general, don’t autopropagate and dash – remember to check those reps!
Today’s LKTip is inspired by some company newsletters we’ve worked on recently – but you can also carry it over to manuals.
Documents like this often contain introductory elements like tables of contents, a word from the editor or highlighted quotes from upcoming articles. Even if they come first in your file, it’s often better to leave them until you’ve translated the main body of the text as it gives you a much better idea of the wider context.
You can even do the same with article headings – translating the main text first often gives you much better inspiration for the heading!
Spelling it out
Today’s LKTip is about spellchecking – but not in the way you might think.
In addition to standard checks, make sure to double-check names – of people, companies, streets, cities and so on. You’d be surprised how often a source text gets these wrong, no matter how much editing they’ve gone through! Making sure to check all these details is a great way to add some extra value to your translation.
Look and listen
Reading your translation aloud is a good way of getting a different perspective on it and catching out typos – but maybe you want to save your voice, you don’t want to disturb other people or you just feel a bit silly talking to yourself!
Well, here’s an LKTip – if you’re working with a Word file, it’s worth giving the Read Aloud function a go (you’ll find it on the Review tab) and listening along; just position the cursor where you want it to start and hit the play button. Although still somewhat robotic, the voice is more towards the natural side these days and hits most of the right cadences, plus the cursor moves along with it automatically so you can read along.