A Useful Online Tool

Most language service providers have some linguists on staff, but it is almost impossible to hire one person for every single language a company translates. This means they need to rely on their translators for their expertise.

Say you have a medical translation that includes the word “Start Scan.” The client calls you because they have added a graphic to their manual showing the “Start Scan” button and now they want to add a callout in Chinese to more clearly identify the button. They ask you if you could please provide them with the text quickly because this is the last change and it is due at the printer by the end of the business day. The only problem is that the translators we use live in China and there is a 13-hour time difference.

Unfortunately, there is no one on staff that speaks or reads Chinese well enough to identify the text. After searching the TM, you can see that the text is usually in the middle of a sentence and not surrounded by tags. You know that if you can just quickly translate the Chinese back to English it would definitely help identify the phrase needed for the client.

The most accurate way that I have found to do this is to use Google Translate. It is simple to use and efficient. It allows you to cut one word, character or phrase at a time until you get the characters you need for the client.

It is important to check the characters against the TM to ensure they appear correctly after you copy/paste them out of the Google Translate website (corruption can occur) into a Word document to send to the client. If possible you should also check the TM for part of the phrase (e.g., search for “Scan” and ensure the characters are correct against what you have already used).

In the past this has come in handiest when I have had to identify text in a translated document that is missing tags. It has also worked well when a client has decided to bold some text in a sentence to make it pop and we need to identify it in the translated document so that the client can quickly make that change as well.

Online dictionaries come in very handy to look up words, but I have enjoyed using the Google Translate tool more because I can go to and from so many languages with ease. I haven’t had to change websites because I need to identify a specific phrase in 11 languages. While this is great for looking up words or phrases, it wouldn’t be something I would recommend to translate your next technical document. Leave that to the experts.

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