Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting Started with Translation Style Guides

Whenever a translator or a translation editor makes a choice that affects consistency, that choice should be recorded in a glossary or style guide. A simple rule to get started is that translation style guides should contain every choice that can not be recorded in a translation glossary or a translation memory.

Instructions and choices that should be included in translation style guides are listed in Annex D of European Standard 15038 for translation services (see page 15). The elements detailed in the PDF include the following:

  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Formatting
  • Adaptations
  • Language-specific and client preferences
  • Common errors to be avoided
  • Other miscellaneous elements

Effective translation style guides can vary in length and detail, as exemplified by the following downloadable style guides from the technology industry:

Google's Translation Style Guide: a single guide for all languages that is simple and concise.

Oracle and Sun's Language Style Guides: guides in 8 languages, each of at least moderate length, French, Spanish, German, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Swedish

Microsoft's Language Style Guides: guides for 90+ languages, each of varying length
Other international organizations and governments with respectable translation teams have also made their translation style guides available online for download:

The World Bank Translation Style Guide: English, French, Arabic, Spanish
The European Commission Translation Style Guides: English, Danish, Finnish, Portuguese, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, and other languages.

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