Writing for Translation: How to Improve Translation Quality

Translation software applications such as Google Translate and our own GTS free online translation tool use software to translate between languages. Translation software, commonly referred to as machine translation, is not perfect but can yield excellent results if used efficiently. One of the key factors to obtaining a good machine translation is the quality of the text being fed into the translation software. Here are some tips that you can use to improve the quality of your translation. If you are using the GTS Translation plugin to translate your website or blog, try and adhere to these rules when writing your content:

1. Spell check

Before you submit your content for translation, check your text for typographical errors, spurious words and incorrect uses of words that may bypass your spell checker (e.g. ‘role’ instead of ‘roll,’ ‘gait’ instead of ‘gate’). Translation software has no way of correcting spelling errors and the result will be poor translation quality. You can use the MS Word spell checker before posting your content.

2. Grammar check

Use a grammar checker on your content prior to posting it. You can use the MS Word grammar checker; if you are writing with WordPress, you can use the After the Deadline plugin for both grammar and spell checking.

Some grammar tips: Use a comma to separate a subordinate clause at the start of a sentence. Separate list items in a sentence with a comma. Do not use periods inside words or abbreviations since this may confuse the MT engine. Do not use a semi-colon to separate two independent clauses. Do not end a sentence with a colon. Do not use a slash as a word separator.

3. Keep your sentences short (but not too short)

Keep your sentences short, with no more than 22 words per sentence. But try and avoid writing sentences of four words or less. Avoid overly complex sentence constructions. If your content has long sentences, try and split them up into separate sentences separated by a period or by a semicolon.

4. Do not use pronouns without a clear antecedent

It is very easy to create a sentence that uses a pronoun without a clear, unmistakable noun antecedent. Avoid the use of pronouns, especially if they have an indefinite referent. For example: Instead of writing:

Install the GTS plugin on your website and then activate it.
The men told the managers that they need to leave.

Write:

Install the GTS plugin on your website and then activate the plugin.
The men needed to go and told the managers that they are leaving.

5. Only use dictionary words

If you are using a word that is not in the dictionary, chances are that the machine translation will not know it either. The MT will either not translate the word, or translate it to something intelligible. Keep to the approved meaning of a word in the dictionary. Do not use the word with any other meaning.

6. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms

Avoid the use of acronyms and abbreviations. Acronyms are often not applicable to another language, and are abbreviated in a different way. Try and spell out acronyms clearly. For example:

The GTS plugin uses the latest in MT technology

use

The GTS plugin uses the latest in Machine Translation technology.

7. Avoid the use of slang, humor and informal language

Slang, jokes and metaphors often do not translate well between languages. Such texts require the special attention of a professional human translator or a translation company, and may not be handled well by machine translation software.

8. Don’t be too creative in your writing

What works well for creative writing may not work for machine translation. Try and use the same words consistently in your writing; do not use different words for the same concept.