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Translation Style Guides

JR Language Blog

Last updated on December 28th, 2023 at 04:19 pm

A college student preparing a thesis paper would not know where to begin without a set of directions and guidelines.  A linguist or translator would fare just as poorly without them during the translation process.

The Role of Translation Guides

The translation process may be a deceptively straightforward process to many, but just as a college student must cater his or her writing to meet the standards of the school/professor, translators must also tailor their work to meet the requirements and standards of their client(s).  Throughout their careers, professional translators will work for a wide variety of clients from different types of organizations.  A translator has an added duty of being sensitive to the respective cultures of their clients.  Translators are able to deliver their service with the help of Translation style guides.

A style guide sets the parameters for a translator’s work.  In short, it lets the translator know what to do and what to avoid.  In further detail, these parameters address the grammatical and technical requirements of the translation work.  Rules of grammar vary depending on cultures, and are discussed in the style guide.  The following questions are addressed, among many others:

–          What words should be avoided for a particular company?

–          When should certain words be capitalized?

–          What types of abbreviations are appropriate to use?

–          How should honorary/professional titles be displayed?

–          Are there words that ought not to be translated?

Culture and Tone

Most importantly, the style guide addresses the cultural considerations and required tone of the translation, which helps the language localization services process.  The translator must deliver a translated document/service that is perfectly suited to the culture of both the client and associated organization.  The tone of the translation must accurately reflect the environment/character of the client (and associated organization), and goes in hand with its culture.  

Teamwork = A Great Style Guide

Preparation of a proper style guide involves team work.  Often, professional translators are unfamiliar with the corporation or organization that they are working for.  Therefore, they must work closely with the client in developing an appropriate style guide.  All parties must be equally satisfied with and approve of the final version.  Only then, will the translator be able to deliver professional, high quality work that meets the requirements of the client’s party, and respects the client’s unique culture.

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.