Content Writing

7 Tips on Localizing Contents to Other Languages

7 Tips Localizing Content to Other Languages

Freelancing opens a lot of doors to Filipinos. You will discover jobs that are too far from what you have thought while you are still in college. It’s both risky and exciting and wouldn’t know what it has to offer; you don’t know how soon you’ll get hired. I was browsing in different freelancers’ group on Facebook when I encountered this post looking for translators. Yes- I am not bilingual and only know English a second language. I don’t know why I decided to look at it- I just did. It turned out they need Tagalog translators, and I said, why not try it out?

I was kind of lunatic to apply and was even confused if they are serious about it, but hey, there’s no harm in trying, right? I thought I did not get in the shortlist, but after two weeks I received a reply. I got an interview, they liked me, and viola- I am now a Tagalog translator.

Is It Hard Translating or Localizing Contents?

I do not know any other languages aside from English but hey, translating is really hard. No wonder, bilingual Filipinos are paid a considerable amount because it is hard localizing a foreign content using your own language, what more if it’s your third language? Translating is indeed hard (well for me) because there are deep Tagalog terms that we do not use anymore. Much worse, I am speaking to an audience that is mixed— meaning, it’s composed of older generations, adults, and millennials. I often go blank when thinking of a way to write an English sentence to Tagalog which will keep its meaning. To answer the question: Yes, translation is hard even if I am already speaking Tagalog and English since elementary days!

Sample localizing content
Sample Localizing Content

Tips on How to Localize Contents to Other Language

  1. You should read the sentence thoroughly before translating it. Why? Because you might end up translating word-for-word. This may mean creating a sentence that cannot be understood. Remember that not every word will have an equal term in your language. So, getting the right essence of the sentence or phrase will help you manage to come up with the proper translation.
  • Utilize Google or Bing translator as they can significantly help you in remembering the term when translated in your language. Example, I was translating a blog earlier, and I believe we have a Tagalog term for “vowels” and “consonants.” Hey, I studied that way back high school and had worked for international companies like Accenture, so we don’t really use what I learned in my Filipino subjects way back elementary. And when Google translate returned my search for “vowel in Tagalog,” it resulted in “patinig.” Now, I am reminded of the words patinig and katinig (vowel and consonant). There is no harm with using such tools rather than asking your previous teachers- they may be busy, and it will take time for them to respond. Rest assured that Google or Bing translator may not be “intelligent enough” to translate contents, but they can often translate a word correctly.
  • Try to translate words with the source of the translation. This will help younger generations who will read the content understand what this local term means in English. In my case, Filipinos are used in combining English and Tagalog when talking, writing, and communicating. I make sure that I put the term I translated in parenthesis so others can find it easy to understand what it means- you’ll never know if they are aware of the localized term. An example of this is the word “phrase” which is “parirala” in Tagalog. Maybe millennials won’t know what it means so might as well write the original word to help them understand.
  • Know your audience when you translate. Since you are localizing content in your language, and just like in writing any other contents, you have to consider who your readers will be. It has to be understandable and comprehensive for whoever you are trying to convey your message, too.
  • Make sure that you double check what you are translating. Since you are using two different windows at the same time, tendencies that you are translating a sentence that is from the previous paragraph can happen- often. In my case, especially during “siesta” where I feel really sleepy, I will notice that I am translating a content that doesn’t belong to the current part I am doing. Be keen and alert where are you with the translation to avoid delays and reworks.
  • Try to study the field of the topic or content you are about to translate. Familiarizing oneself with the subject will significantly contribute to producing comprehensive translated contents. If you can find official localized terms for the term or noun, then use it.
  • Lastly, read and edit your translated content. Not because it’s a language you are familiar with or what you call “mother tongue,” you must still read and edit your translated content. Read it from the first up to the last paragraph. You will be surprised at how many corrections you can do from spaces, spelling, sentence construction and arrangement, and punctuations. Even if you are only translating content to your own, editing is still vital because it’s like creating a whole new content. The arrangements and construction of the sentences may not make sense if you don’t fix it. For Tagalog contents, it is hard because I use English based MS Word- all words in Tagalog is underlined with red. Having the patience to read and check the content will make it easier for the publisher to proceed with the content.

If you are looking for a translator job, keep in mind that knowing the language will not be enough to derive accurate results. Just like any other work, it still needs a lot of patience, research, adapting, and learning. So the next time you’ll land a job as a translator, be sure to keep in mind these tips.

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