6 common reasons for poor translation quality and how to avoid them

CEO and founder of Lingohub. Envisioning a multilingual digital world. Email me if you have questions about how Lingohub can help you take your products global.

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6 common Reasons for poor Translation Quality and how to avoid them

Once you’ve decided to localize your software or corporate documents there are quite a lot of error sources along the path to a translated product. You’ve devoted time to build an amazing product and translations need to resonate with your product, company and most importantly your local customers.

To help you avoiding poor translations we came up with these 6 common reasons for poor translation quality and how you can avoid them in your localization project. Follow this checklist and deliver your product and new features to users around the world efficiently and with high-quality texts.

Checklist - how to avoid poor translation quality in your localization project

#1 Complicated and poorly written Source Content

The reason for poor translation quality can often be found in the source content itself. A low quality of your source text as well as mistakes in the content are multiplied through translation. Here are a few simple tips to increase translation quality.

Avoid long Sentences

Val Swisher, CEO of Content Rules, has been long into the topic. She calls it “the scourge of the long sentence“. 95 words is the all-time high Val found in a sentence. Here’s why you should avoid long sentences and focus on short ones:

  • Long sentences are hard for your audience to understand, not only in English.
  • They are also hard to understand and nearly impossible to translate properly for your translators.
  • Focus on short and catchy sentences. They make your content easy to understand and engaging too.

Double-check your Source Text for Grammar Errors

Whenever you create source content for translations double-check it before you pass it on to your translators. Typos like “your” instead of “you’re” sometimes occur without noticing them. It’s best to ask a second native speaker to check the text for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Keep a wary Eye on the Tone of Voice

The tone of content has become casual and chummy. Companies tend to use Internet slang when creating content. This very friendly and plain tone of voice is mostly grammatically incorrect. Sentence fragments and incorrect punctuation are used that do not exist in other languages. Try to use slang less in your content and focus on grammatically correct texts to increase your translation quality.

#2 Manual Translation Workflow

A common source of poor translation quality is a manual translation workflow. Traditional translation agencies often rely on those manual processes. Companies need a responsible person who identifies translatable text and forwards it to translators. Hence, source content needs to be copied from the product and pasted into a simple Word or Excel sheet. The same applies for translations just the other way around. This manual process contains numerous error sources:

  • Copy/paste incomplete texts
  • Forget to copy/paste entire phrases
  • Lack of context information
  • Traditional translation agencies usually work with offline translation tools to work out translations. The translator copies and pastes the final translation into the document. He might accidently paste the text in the wrong cell of the spreadsheet resulting in duplicate and wrong translations.
  • When translators and product managers are working on a shared spreadsheet the status of a text/translation is not marked. Hence, the product manager might paste a text into the product that still needs a final review.
  • Manual processes are time consuming. A professional translator normally translates 2,000 to 2,500 words a day. All the additional copy/paste work takes time. If deadlines are to close translators need to work faster and the translation quality might suffer. Plan translations according to release deadlines in advance to give translators enough time to work out high-quality translations.

Automate your Translation Workflow

Avoid manual steps in the process with translation automation platforms. LingoHub’s most powerful advantage is the automation of the translation workflow. Just the translation work itself is carried out by certified human translators. The above mentioned mess of documents is fully eliminated:

  • Translators, developers and product managers work on the same platform which facilitates communication.
  • Use statuses to organize your workflow for source and target texts and make sure every team member knows what’s up.
    • Not Translated for created empty text segments
    • Draft for machine translated texts and temporary translations
    • Translated for finished translations
    • Approved for reviewed and proofread texts

6 common reasons for poor translation quality and how to avoid them

#3 Lack of proper Translation Tools

The most powerful weapons in the translation process are versatile translation tools. They increase translation quality, speed and save costs. Traditional translation agencies work with different offline and online tools that are hard to combine and really costly. Freelance translators might work with low budget assets or freeware that can’t keep up with professional ones. Translation management tools like LingoHub provide all gadgets needed to work out high-quality translations.

Translation Memory

A Translation Memory is a database that learns from every word you translate. Every saved translation is automatically added to your Translation Memory. When translators work on similar texts in the future, the Translation Memory suggests translations based on similarity. No texts are translated twice.

Term Base

A Term Base or glossary is a centralized compilation of terms. It typically consists of industry specific, company or product related and technical terms. A Term Base is used to share these particular terms within employees and with external translators.

Use approved translations in your Term Base to avoid duplication of mistakes. LingoHub’s Term Base also acts as quality checks. The system automatically checks for terms from your Term Base and enforces them.

Machine Translation

Machine Translation provides suggestions based on computer algorithms. Make sure to use Machine Translation the right way! It’s a great starting point for translators to work out high-quality translations efficiently. However, don’t use suggestion from Machine Translation as final translations as they’re often grammatically incorrect.

Automatic Quality Checks

Content that is written for devices with a limited screen size are likely to have special restrictions such as text length. You might need line breaks to ensure that texts fit properly in your layout. Digital products and software contain variable content that is dynamically replaced. Such content is represented as placeholders with a special syntax in translation management tools.
LingoHub allows you to predefine quality checks for the following criteria:

  • text length
  • line breaks
  • terms
  • placeholders
  • HTML code

Thanks to these quality checks translations will meet your expectations. LingoHub automatically controls and enforces quality checks and minimizes workload.

#4 Lack of Context Information

External translators don’t know your product by hard as you do. They also don’t know your company’s tone of voice, corporate identity etc. To avoid poor translation quality you need to provide translators with so-called context information:

  • guidelines
  • explanation for industry specific terms
  • screenshots of your product’s interface etc.

#5 Low-Quality Translators

It’s possible that poor translation quality is your translator’s fault. There are less trained people in the job field too. You get what you pay for and costs vary:

  • Depending on the skills of a translator and the quality you can expect translations make up $ 0.06 to $ 0.25 per word.
  • Professional freelancers, language service providers and translation management tools usually charge $ 0.14 to $ 0.25 per word or more.
  • Basic reviews start at $ 0.02 per word while professional proofreading makes up $ 0.05 to $ 0.08 per word or more.

Invest time and money to find the right translators for your project. It might be tempting to go for basic translations and cut costs. This will mostly result in even higher translation costs. Your local customers will recognize poor translations immediately and complain. Hiring a professional translator afterwards and doing all the translation work again doubles costs. Go with certified translators and don’t waste time and money on poor translations.

We at LingoHub aim to provide high-quality translations. Thus, we’ve partnered up with certified translators in their native language. They’re experts in more than 40 business areas to deliver translations that resonate with your audience.

#6 Translations publishing without In-Country Review

Another common error source in translations lies in the workflow. Companies tend to think that texts can be published once they’re translated. There’s one essential step missing: review! In-country review by a second native translator is key to high-quality translations. The evaluation by a second set of trained eyes minimizes the risk of incorrect translations and content enormously.

 

Translation is no small feat. With the right tools and support you’ll eliminate these common error sources in your localization projects permanently. Convince yourself and try LingoHub free for 14 days!