It’s easy to think that translation is just about words. But when you render a document with text, images, graphs and charts into another language, you step into the world of design and layout.
If you are translating plain text in MS Word this is not a big issue, but for professional documentation, use is often made of more specialised programs such as InDesign, PowerPoint, QuarkXpress or FrameMaker, or various other graphics or layout programs. In this case, desktop publishing (DTP) will play a significant role in the price and flow of the project.
In the past, the only way to translate text in a format such as PowerPoint was for the translator to be a licensed user and to translate by overwriting the original: a laborious and error-prone process. These days, however, QuickSilver Translate uses a combination of software tools (some of them proprietary) to create an integrated, optimised method for extracting text into our Computer Aided Translation software, and then re-inserting the subsequent translation to and from all major formats. In addition, the software we use gives us all the advantages of consistency and efficiency for one-off translations, and even more so when we undertake numerous translations for the same customer.
This methodology helps eliminate the risk of human error through manual intervention (cut-and-paste mistakes etc.) as well as avoiding the danger inherent in trusting complicated typography to specialists who are unfamiliar with the foreign language in question.
It also enables us to return to the client a document which is as close as possible to the original in terms of layout and formatting. Keep in mind, however, the varying typographical conventions and space requirements for various languages. French, for example, has quite unexpected punctuation rules and German hyphenation is in a class of its own. Some East Asian scripts can be written horizontally or vertically, whilst Hebrew and Arabic are written right to left, which calls for special typesetting techniques.
The entire process is also made easier if a few simple points are taken into account. During pre-processing, for instance, it is important that the text ‘flows’, that the format accepts text segments of varying length and that you avoid the use of manual line breaks in the middle of paragraphs.
QuickSilver can work with any major format, including:
Professional layout tools – QuarkXPress, InDesign, FrameMaker etc.
MS Office tools – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access
Web-based formats – HTML, XML, ASP etc.
Layout programs are best suited to this approach. Other programs designed more with graphics in mind complicate the process: Illustrator or its predecessor Freehand, for example, considerably increase the time and cost of text processing. It is sometimes quicker to recreate the entire document in a more suitable format.