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There are many issues to consider before translating a document into another language. Addressing these issues before beginning translation can significantly reduce the time and cost of the project. The staff at The Translate Me Group are always prepared to discuss your language translation project concerns, answer questions and offer suggestions. Here’s a list of common concerns and possible ways to address them.

Locale Specific Modifications

800 Numbers 800 numbers for the U.S. can be called toll free from Canada and Mexico. In some countries calling a US based companies 800 number will not be free,or, in many countries the 800 number will not connect. If your documents will be used outside of North America, consider using your regular business telephone number. Alternatively a local 800 number can be arranged in the locale, which connects through to your U.S. based operators.

AM/PM Most countries use a 24-hour clock, instead of AM and PM. For example, 5:00 PM becomes 17:00. This is especially important when translating computer prompts and forms.

Business Reply Cards Response cards are often deleted entirely or altered to reflect postal standards of the target country. If you wish to include a reply card, the address and a square indicating “PLACE STAMP HERE” are sufficient. Alternatively there are mail forwarding organisations in most countries, and these allow you to bulk mail at domestic rates, as well as providing a local address for your organisation.

Culturally Specific References

If the text contains culturally specific references to the U.S. (ie. references to American sports, holidays, school systems, grade levels, etc.) that are not relevant to the target audience, these references should be generalised or omitted.

Dates In most countries the American “month/day/year” becomes “day/month/year.”
For example, February 18, 2002 (2-18-02) becomes 18 February 2002 (18-2-02).

Decimal Point vs. Decimal Comma The decimal comma replaces the decimal point in Europe and South America. The decimal point is used to denote the thousands place. For example, 4.5 becomes 4,5 and 5,000 becomes 5.000. This should be considered when translating tables. Even if no actual translation is needed within a table, decimal points may need to be changed to commas.

Measurements The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that does not use metric measurements system. Including metric and American measurements in a text for countries using the metric system can be confusing and can unnecessarily expand the total amount of text within a translated manuscript.

Paper Sizes Standard paper sizes in many countries differ from those in the U.S. As a result, without size adjustments, materials printed in the U.S. will not fit folders, etc., in Europe. Standard European paper sizes are A4 (8.3” x 11.7”) and A5 (5.8” x 8.3”).

Part Numbers Don’t overlook part numbers in your foreign literature. You may want to consider using different part numbers to enhance organisation and allow easy identification of the foreign literature. If you choose to change part numbers, please supply the most current numbers at the start of the project.

Proper Names and Company Names in Non-Roman Languages In non-Roman languages, proper names and company names can be transliterated (translated by sound) or remain in English. If proper names and company names have been translated previously, providing The Translate Me Group with these translations as a reference will allow us to maintain consistency.

Voltage Most countries use a voltage standard of 240v rather than 110v, as used in the U.S. Standard electrical plugs (prongs) used in the U.S. are not usable in other countries. Types of electrical plugs vary throughout Europe as well. Please verify with the end user the type of electrical plug configurations used in that country.

Warranties Warranties must be checked. Your legal department will need to examine any warranties to determine if they should be amended to fit the foreign market, or deleted altogether. If foreign warranties have been previously translated, they should be supplied as reference.


Computer prompts An English computer prompt may not hold meaning for a foreign user, and a translation is helpful. A recommended solution is translation of your computer software. If prompts remain in English, they can be referred to in the text as
ENGLISH (TRANSLATION). If software has already been translated, a copy should be provided at the beginning of the project so we can remain consistent with your existing translation.

Reference Material

Useful documents Pictures, schematic drawings, business cards, manuals, user’s guides, etc., as well as existing translated material are very helpful when beginning a project. Reference material allows translators and your project team to better understand your organisation and its products/services. It is also very useful for maintaining consistency in word choice, style and terminology.

Reference to Other Literature If literature referred to in the text has been translated previously, please supply the translated name of the literature for consistency. If not, we suggest using either the English title with the translation for “(Available in English Only)” following the title, or the English title followed by the translation in parenthesis.

Some Additional Issues to Consider

Acronyms/Abbreviations Industry- and company-specific acronyms and abbreviations often cannot be found in dictionaries, or have more than one definition. Providing translators with a list of acronyms and abbreviations, and their definitions as they are used by your company, can reduce the number of questions during a project. When acronyms appear in translation text, it is most common to have the first occurrence of the English acronym followed by its translation in parenthesis. The use of the corresponding foreign acronym, if available, is also appropriate.

Call outs This term refers to text surrounding or pointing to artwork. If the call out text is contained within electronic graphic files, the source graphic files are needed for desktop publishing. It is best that text requiring translation is not placed within a graphic; it should be placed in text boxes within the application or keyed to the graphic.

Formatted English An electronic file containing the formatted English text is very helpful during all stages of production and can significantly reduce the cost of desktop publishing. If a file is available, please let us know in which software program(s) it can be provided. Electronic files should be provided at the start of the project, even for translation only projects. If The Translate Me Group is completing the DTP phase, please supply fonts, necessary graphics and source files.

Machine Labelling If the labels, keypads, etc. on your machinery appear in English, special treatment is necessary in support material. Clients often choose to have labelling appear as TRANSLATION (ENGLISH) or ENGLISH (TRANSLATION) in the text of the manual. If labelling has been previously translated, it should be provided as reference at the beginning of the project.

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