Handy Tips for Translating a Corporate Web Site

I recently translated (French → English) the entire website, ticket booking platform and marketing material for Mystifly. It was the first time that I was handling such a big project. But more importantly, it was also my first translation assignment since 2011. I was quite obviously nervous when I started, so I spent a long time cross-checking words and looking up the domaine specific jargon.

After spending several weeks, buried under the documents, I finally sent the final translations, satisfied with the work accomplished. Translation may seem like an easy job to most people, but it’s really no child’s play! To succeed, you obviously need to have an excellent level in both language. Goof-ups like grammar or spelling mistakes are not acceptable. But that’s not enough. To ensure that a translation doesn’t end up a garbled text that makes no sense, you should:

  1. Study the domaine: before starting the translation, spend some time reading other sites from the domaine (in the target language) to understand your client’s context.
  2. Avoid literal translation: many English sentences and phrases can’t be translated word to word to French (or vice-versa). Sentence structures vary in different languages and there are many phrases and idiomatic expressions which have no equivalent in the target language. To avoid the trap of literal translation, you will have to employ various techniques like nominalisation etc.
  3. Use different language references (dictionaries, thesaurus, grammar books etc…): this will help you to quickly look up words you don’t know and use synonyms to improve the quality of your translation.
  4. Stay in touch with somebody from the company: when in doubt, talk to the experts. I got stuck at several points in the translation and it was always my contact person (it helped that he was also a student and somebody who also has an excellent level in French) who bailed me out and helped me decipher acronyms like MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation), SOTO (Sold Outside, Ticketed Outside) et RIP (Re-investigative Intelligent Pricing) !
  5. Proof-read your text before sending it to the client & ensure that there are no mistakes/typos: even if you have used a CAT tool, make sure you proof-read your text. Translation tools, just like humans, are known to make mistakes!

P.S You can also read these tips in French.

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