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The 5 Snares of Translation Review, or “Wait, There’s A Bear In My Software!”

By April 16, 2014 July 21st, 2016 No Comments

translation review

Have you ever seen a “Bear” button in your UI?

Well, we have, and we’re not talking about localizing a zoo website. Sometimes, doing your own translation review can cause unexpected results (see last example below)…

So we thought we would show you how to avoid the 5 most common translation review traps:

#1 “Our accountant knows some Hebrew.”

Having a multilingual staff is an excellent advantage for companies doing business worldwide. But is your accountant a native speaker, and more important, is she ‘recently native’? Languages evolve over time and even native speakers living abroad can have trouble staying current.
If you want native review, go to where the language is spoken.

#2 “Our QA team says you forgot to translate ‘file’ in Italian.”

QA teams are there to ensure that the product meets technical quality requirements. QA teams are not linguistic reviewers and should not be involved in reviewing translations, as it can be a serious time waster for everyone involved. For example, your QA team might not know that the Italian translation for “file” is “file.”

#3 “Our reviewer is busy, so we will use someone else.”

Writing is subjective. Imagine putting 10 professional writers in a room and asking them to describe the same thing. You’ll get 10 different versions. In the same way that it can be risky to use distributors as translators (see Caution: The True Costs and Risks of Distributor Translations), it can be just as risky to have inconsistent reviewers.

The secret is having a team of dedicated reviewers and making sure they are good communicators in their respective language.

#4 “We’ll get in-country product experts to review the translations.”

This is actually the right approach, if done correctly. Having in-country product experts do internal review can be effective, but they should not work alone. Medialocate recommends having them engage directly with our translators.

They can work in two phases:

  • Upstream: early on, to approve terminology, sign off on style guides, and provide guidance as needed.
  • Downstream: for the reviews themselves, they should use the established glossaries and style guides.

#5 “We made some changes and will get back to you post-launch”

It is vital to provide timely and helpful feedback so that we can ensure that the suggested reviews are linguistically accurate. We call this the Client Review Validation step, which can be a useful way to ensure that internal reviews actually do bring about improvements.

Client-Side Translation Review can be a real Bear sometimes…

Here are some recent “internal” translation review examples gone wrong, and how we fixed them in time:

  • An intern at a client’s French office did the voice-over for a video supporting a new product launch. She changed the translation of “24/7” to 24:07. The video told customers the product would “be available at 12:07 AM.” We caught the error while compiling the French video in our in-house production studio and told the client that we would re-record it.
  • An internal reviewer changed the Chinese translations in a UI menu that listed language names. Not only did the reviewer change most of the language names to country names, “Danish” was changed to “Netherlands!”


…and as for the “Bear” button, here it goes…
Translation Review

  • Ready for the Bear?  We localized the UI for a video editing tool into German and noticed that the “Edit” button was in between two other buttons, with no room to expand. The German translation for “Edit” is Bearbeiten, which clearly was not going to fit. So we suggested using the English term, since many Germans are already using the term Editieren and Edit by itself would not cause too much confusion. The product manager kept the original translation and since no one on the engineering team knew German, the product was released with a button that said “Bear.”

Are you ready for an efficient, repeatable, and reliable translation review process? Medialocate is here to help!

Call us at 1-800-776-0857

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