No translation technology is perfect. Going the extra mile to ensure your training content and any company-specific terminology is easy when you keep these three strategies in mind. 

Improve English Inputs

Getting the right translation starts with your training content. Oftentimes, the way we write differs greatly from how we would speak. Consider your English inputs as the words you would use to explain something face-to-face in an active voice, rather than in a written format where you’re more likely to use passive voice, idioms, or language mixing..Translation technology performs best with clear, concise English inputs. For instance, phrases like "notate" or idiomatic expressions such as 'break the bank,' 'elephant in the room,' and 'whopping' can hinder accurate translations. Remove these linguistic barriers to enhance translation quality. 

Here are some idioms used in everyday speech, including some less obvious ones:

  1. Piece of cake: something that is very easy or simple to do.
  2. Hit the nail on the head: something precisely or accurately.
  3. The ball is in your court: it's someone's turn to take action or make a decision.
  4. Cost an arm and a leg: something that is extremely expensive.
  5. Hop on the train: join a popular trend or opportunity.
  6. Leap at the chance: eagerly seize an opportunity when it comes up.
  7. Cutting corners: trying to save money or time at the expense of quality
  8. Soup to nuts: an event or item that includes everything
  9. Order up: an order is ready to be served.

Idioms are the most notorious example of how English inputs can make translations go awry. In less conspicuous cases like dialects (i.e. Mexico Spanish v. Spain Spanish), one word can take on different translations.

Utilize the Translation Editor

Translation tools and software can provide automated translations, but they are not infallible. Sometimes, manual edits are required to ensure that the translated content accurately conveys the intended message, especially when dealing with idiomatic phrases or cultural references.

Here's why having editing tools is important:

  1. Idiomatic phrases: Idioms are culture-specific and don't always translate directly, such as a company value. Editing tools allow you to identify and adapt these phrases to convey the intended meaning effectively in the target language.
  2. Cultural sensitivity: Translators need the flexibility to adjust translations to be culturally sensitive. Certain phrases or references that are innocuous in one language may be offensive or confusing in another.
  3. Context matters: Context can greatly impact the translation of a word or phrase. Editing tools enable translators to consider the context and choose the most appropriate translation.
  4. Language nuances: Languages have their own nuances and subtleties that automated tools may miss. Translators can fine-tune translations to capture these subtleties.
  5. Grammar and style: Editing tools allow for checking and refining the grammar, style, and tone of translated content to ensure it aligns with the original message.
💡 Built-in translation editor with Opus. While it’s becoming more common for learning management systems or training content builders to offer in-product translation, automated translations only get you 99% of the way there. When evaluating tools, be sure to inquire what translation features are included. With Opus, you can edit any language translation directly in the builder.. See how this comes into play in Opus’ Translations Editor.

Create a Translation Override Glossary

Not every word should be translated either. For instances where words shouldn’t be translated, like menu item names or company-specific jargon, create exceptions or overrides to manage around them. Unlike a Translation editor, where you can make one-off edits to your training content in a specific language, creating a Translation Override Glossary ensures that these terms never get translated. 

To start, build a “Translation Override Glossary.” Identify essential English terms related to your restaurant's unique menu, culture, or brand. For example, terms like "taco bible" or special dish names can be set as default English via the translation override feature. This ensures that they are accurately translated in all materials, including menus and training materials.

Maintaining phrases in their original language, often English, is essential for several reasons, especially in the context of brand consistency and effective communication:

💡 Built-in translation glossary override. Opus’ Translations offers a Glossary Override so that your company-specific terms stay consistent. Learn more.

While translation technology has its place, it is not without its limitations. By refining English inputs, utilizing translation editors effectively, and creating translation override glossaries for essential terms, businesses can overcome common pitfalls and ensure their training content resonates accurately across a diverse workforce. 

Hungry for more? This is an article in a 3-part series on “Embracing a Multilingual Workforce: Strategies for Success”. Check out the other articles: