Translating Aotearoa


March 2014

Translating consistently

As they say, the devil is in the details. Consistency is a key element of a good translation. If your translation contains the name of an organisation or that of a city, you want to make sure that it is consistent throughout the text. In other words, once you have done your research and decided on the most appropriate translation, stick to it. For example, the capital city of Indonesia can be spelt Jakarta or Djakarta. Image of a postit note reading 'Helpful tips'Whatever your choice, that city should always be written the same way in your translation. The same goes for organisations. If you decide to translate ‘The Translation Service’ in French as ‘le Service de la traduction’, stick with it and don’t put ‘le Service de traduction’.

‘How can I ensure consistency?’ you may ask. Translation software such as Trados, SDL Studio, Wordfast, MemoQ, OmegaT, and others, usually has features to help you with consistency, such as translation memories, term bases and quality control functions that will point out any discrepancies. But there are plenty of ways to ensure consistency without the use of one of these programmes.

Using the Find function in Word is one way to make sure you always use the same spelling and/or the same name throughout your translation. This a quality check that you can perform once you have completed the translation and before you send it back to us. Another solution, which is helpful for longer translations, is to create a glossary, in Excel for instance, where you will be able to record all your terminology choices. That glossary will grow with the number of translations you do and will be a useful tool for any future translations, as you will have access to research that you have already done.

Feel free to leave a comment to share your tips and tricks with other TTS translators.

Found in translation 1

All translations are not equal. A good translation is one that conveys the same meaning as the source text and sounds natural in the target language. Some do just the opposite. Here are some of the greatest howlers found in translation, taken from Lingo24’s latest top ten list of business translation blunders. We hope you enjoy them.

If you come across funny mistranslations, feel free to share them with us.

1. Magical drink
Pepsi launched a new product in China and translated “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” with “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese. Needless to say they couldn’t provide any evidence for this claim.

2. Hair dung
Clairol released a new curling iron named “Mist Stick”, including in Germany, where “Mist” is slang for manure.

3. Going nude
American Airlines’ Mexican first-class passengers thought they were getting something more exciting that just a comfy seat when they read the airline’s new ad. The airline was trying to promote its “Fly in Leather” slogan to its wealthier consumers. Instead it wondered whether they’d be interested to “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero).

4. Infertile pens
Parker pens are famous for not leaking in your pocket and that’s just what the company told its Mexican customers in a new advertising campaign. Unfortunately, what should have read “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” became “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”. The Spanish false friend “embarazar” (to impregnate) let the translator astray.

5. Costly mistake
German doctors forgot to “cement” the artificial knee joints of 47 patients in a Berlin hospital. The product’s manual stated it was “zementfrei” (not requiring cement), instead of giving the instruction to “cement the joints”. Costly remedial procedures followed – as did large claims for compensation.

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