Translation Musings: planning ahead

May 28, 2014 | Translation

urgent stampWe often get phone calls asking us if we can translate a degree certificate, marriage certificate, maybe even a divorce certificate into English (or Spanish, or French, or Swati – you get the picture). “Yes”, we reply. “Can you do it now?” is the next question, “My interview/appointment/wedding is tomorrow…”

Sometimes we can and we will always try. But how long ago did this person know they needed a translation? Weeks, maybe even months? Now, we’ve all been guilty of a spot of procrastination -leaving stuff till the last minute, putting off the inevitable. And, if the document is just a one page certificate, we might be able to help. But if it is the sales brochure for the exhibition in Germany, which is starting tomorrow, we probably can’t.

“Success depends upon previous preparation,
and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”

Planning ahead is as important in translation as anything else. If you are thinking of expanding into new markets, you need to think about the translation from the very beginning. Making it part of your initial strategy can save you time, money, hassle and maybe even your reputation. How much will you need to translate? Which languages? Will you need to change brand names, logos, taglines? (With promotional materials, a pure translation might not be enough; you may need transcreation – creating your words in a new language, whilst keeping hold of the original intent, style, tone and content.) How long will this all take? What extra information can we provide to the translator? All of this takes time, organisation and, above all, communication.

Investing some time in your initial planning, and again when briefing your suppliers, could make the world of difference.

image credit: BrookeB @