The translation process still requires considerable human effort as even the most automated approach is driven by linguists. But however skilled and experienced these linguists are, you need to give them strict rules on how they should communicate with your target market – don’t let them just guess how it should be done.
Obviously, there are rules for the correct use of language, but when it comes to style, many valid options are available that may alter the user experience quite drastically.
Does your message come across in the way you mean it to when it is translated? Do you address readers in a formal or informal way, what level of politeness should you apply, should you use passive/active voice, how do you convert currency and format dates, etc.- these are decisions that should be made upfront and by you. It is critical for corporations to make their stylistic preferences explicit. If you allow translators to make assumptions about how you want to communicate with your customers, you greatly increase the chances that this will lead to inconsistent messaging.
Another important challenge for corporations is to enable project stakeholders to collaborate successfully. Centralised or offshore, in- or outsource and everything in between, single, dual or multi-source - the options are numerous. Your choice will depend on your strategy: do you want to take full control and invest in efficiency by centralising and internalising the translation production, or do you want to benefit from vendor expertise and scale but in return lose visibility (the ‘black box’ syndrome)?
Besides defining your corporate style and deciding upon collaboration models, an efficient validation strategy is key. This is the biggest hurdle for some companies: projects grind to a sudden halt when the assigned subject matter experts have to fit validation into their busy schedules. However, not having an internal resource approve the content of a message meant for external use can have major consequences: there are numerous examples of companies suffering from reputation damage because of ‘wrongly intended’ translations, or losing money because pricing information was not correct in the translated sales document.
There are ways to smoothen the internal validation process: the most obvious one is to produce better translations, so that specialists don’t have to worry about punctuation and spelling mistakes. But implementing an efficient validation process, supported by an infrastructure and clear guidelines will also help reviewers to work faster, without obsolete loops and with better final output.
Back to Corporate Language Strategy.