Translation Guidance

Translation Guidance Notes

SIS welcomes all enquiries from Service Providers prior to any translation requests. This can be beneficial for both SIS and Service Providers, as it’ll often help clarify the purpose, and therefore necessity, of translating any material.

Bellow are guidance extracts from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and Communities and Local Government.

You will also find a simple check list, which should address some of the questions and queries about translations.

Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) has produced an excellent guide to purchasing translations.

The guidance outlines the following:

“Translate only relevant sections of existing documents, or produce shorter texts and have these translated. ” (Page 4)

“Be sure to tell your translators what your text is for, so that they can prepare a foreign-language version with maximum impact for that particular audience and medium. ” (Page 14)

“Speak your readers’ language. Put yourself in their shoes, and zero in on how your products and services can serve their needs. Be concrete. Be specific. (The same applies to your promotional materials in your source language, of course.)” (Page 17)

“Good translators strip down your sentences entirely before creating new ones in the target language. And they ask questions along the way. ” (Page 18)

Commission on Integration and Cohesion published a document called Our Shared Future.The report’s annexe E, (page 165): Translations – Efficiency and Integration; deals with recommendations for local authorities, and their partners, on translations.

Communities and Local Government produced further proposals for local authorities as a direct result of Our Shared Future document. highlights 5 reasons why local authorities should translate into community languages:

“a. To ensure that non-English speaking residents are able to access essential services, e.g. the police, education services, and safety campaigns, such as fire, road safety, etc.
b. To enable people to take part in the democratic process, for example enabling people to register to vote or take part in local consultations.
c. To support local community groups or intermediaries working directly with new migrants or non-English speaking communities.
d. To enable people to function effectively as citizens in society and be able to get along with others, by ensuring that they understand local rules and appreciate local customs e.g. rubbish disposal, parking restrictions and common courtesies.
e. To ensure compliance with the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 and ensure that no one is disadvantaged in accessing services because of their inability to communicate verbally or non-verbally.”

Translation Check List

When requesting a translation it’s useful to keep in mind the following:

1. Audience
Know your audience. The format and language of a letter to a client differ from the text aimed at local community group(s).
Correspondence to individual clients can be informal, personal, and styled to suite that individual.

Information for groups should be straight forward, concise, and appropriate to that community. Care must be taken re language, dialect, geographical origin, and religious background (same for individuals).

SIS will help identifying community groups in the area, assisting with finalising text that is appropriate and relevant. We also monitor community languages across the Sussex area, and can offer advice on list of “core” languages.

2. Format
We often get asked to translate promotional material. Many of them are heavily formatted, often packed with photos, graphs, and diagrams. Not all information in leaflets and flyers is relevant for each community group (or individuals). Providing translated summaries can be more valuable and cost effective way of transmitting information.

The summary is easily translated into different community languages. Organisations can keep track of translation requests, creating data about communities living and working in the area. Future translations requests should be based on available records of languages requested by groups and individuals.

3. Technical information
Simple letters are easy to translate and format. We create PDF (portable document format) versions of all documents and any text will be opened without difficulties. The text is “locked”, to avoid any accidental changes. SIS can email fonts, and liaise directly with designers/ printers in order to produce text in specified format. This can save valuable time, especially if SIS is involved from the beginning of process.

4. Translation v interpreting
The following is extract from SIS’ Code of Practice for Community Interpreters (CI) that helps explain appropriateness of sight translations:

“…It is considered appropriate and acceptable for CIs to:

  • help in-patients on hospital wards by working with the nursing staff to produce simple flash cards with bi-lingual phrases for essential communication e.g. I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m in pain, I need to go to the toilet etc.
  • to do sight translations of appointment letters that clients have received – giving the clients information about date, time, venue, SP, any advance preparation the client should do e.g. client shouldn’t eat for 12 hours before the session

…It is not considered appropriate or acceptable for CIs to:

  • translate letters containing more complex information or other documents and leaflets
  • CI`s may suggest that the SP read out any such documents and leaflets in short manageable sections and that these be interpreted.
  • Lengthy documents should always be referred to the SIS community translation service.

… if clients need something written down in their own language it is best that they do this themselves from the interpreted information. In addition, CIs shouldn’t complete any forms for clients, SPs can complete the form while CIs can help to get the information from the clients by interpreting questions.”

5. Distribution/promotion
SIS is always keen to learn what will happen to flyers, posters, leaflets, once they’ve been translated. We encourage organisations to think of a distribution list (community groups, community venues, local shops, GP surgeries,
churches, mosques, etc). Different promotional material might need different distribution lists.

SIS’ Community Interpreters are invaluable source of information about BME communities, and they themselves will often distribute and promote material relevant to their own clients/community.

Please contact our Co-ordination Team on 01273 702005 to discuss your translation needs. Consultations are informal, practical and free.

Translation turnaround times

For most documents up to 2000 words the translation will take around 3 working days. Very short documents (up to 300 words) will take around 2 working days. However all translation requests will be considered individually as turnaround time is dependent on format, type of document, terminology, language, exact number of words and availability of translators. If the document you need to translate is over 2000 words, a SIS Translation Coordinator will be happy to check availability of translators and discuss timescales with you in advance. The turnaround times should be used as guidance. Please allow extra time for leaflets/multi-language requests/extra formatting/separate proofreading/specialised language e.g. technical All translation requests will be responded to with a quote and timescale.