As our vision statement declares, Arlington is a “diverse and inclusive” community. Ensuring our services are available to the entire community may call for you to provide your program’s materials in other languages.
This page will help you make sure your translated content is as effective as possible.
What to Consider
- Do you need to translate the whole document, or can you summarize and reduce sections of the original?
- How big is your audience? Calculate how many people will be reading the text. For ads, glossy magazines, promotional brochures and documents with widespread circulation, translation services should be consulted. For in-house memos or documents with limited circulation, a less polished (and often less expensive) option may be adequate.
- Put yourself in your reader’s shoes: Zero-in on how your products and services can best serve their needs. Be specific.
- A picture is worth a thousand words: Maps, diagrams and infographics can be more effective than words. Only use text when you have to, or when it’s the only way to get your message across.
- Speaking is not writing: Oral fluency does not guarantee smooth, accurate writing. While it’s a good idea to have a native speaker in your department review the final translation for accuracy, it’s usually best to hire a professional translator to transform text. Bilingualism on its own is not a guarantee of written fluency or skill in translation.
- What about translation software? As a general rule, don’t use raw computer output as a final product — you risk being inarticulate.
Choosing a Translator
- Tell the translator how the text will be used — this will allow him/her to prepare the translation for maximum impact with the audience you’re trying to reach.
- The more technical the subject, the more important it is for the translator to know it inside and out.
- Use your department’s subject matter experts to provide vocabulary and background materials up front — this will make the translator’s job easier and the editing process less intensive.
- Most professional translators work in their native language.
- A good translator should ask lots of questions.
- Be involved in the process.