In many cases, the customisation process not only involves adapting the original materials to the program’s objectives but also translating them into a local language. In doing so, a crucial decision must be taken as to whether the materials are translated before or after customisation.
Customisation first OR translation first:
Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. In many cases, the decision will derive from the constraints of a particular context. In turn the decision for one or the other of these approaches will have implications for a number of key elements. It may also be important to differentiate between large linguistic groups that cover different countries and could be integrated through a regional approach and smaller linguistic groups/ languages that are limited to one country (or even a regional language within a country).
Key elements to consider:
Whatever approach is chosen, it is crucial to build on any translation effort and avoid duplication through keeping track of the existing/on-going translation efforts (know what is available, ensure access to them); make room for improvement through feedback and update. It is also important to keep in mind the need of customising the translation i.e. adapt the level of language and the terminology to the specific audience (cater for the diversity within a same linguistic group).
Depending on the size of the materials to be translated and the number of people – translators, editors, proof readers, and designers – involved in the process, a coordination team led by a coordinator might be crucial to insure the translation process is on track.
The role of the coordination team ranges from providing guidelines for the translation process, supervising translation and providing prompt answers to emerging requests during the process. The coordination team should also make sure that translators, editors, proof readers and designers are delivering copy according to an agreed time line.
Preferably, an experienced BRIDGE facilitator should be part of the coordination team. This will help give better links with the overall BRIDGE program, as well as provide an insight to issues related to the nature of BRIDGE materials and methodology.
Glossaries are key tools for translation. In addition to providing terminology, they help explain technical terms, making it easier to find equivalent in the target language.
Early in the process, implementers should plan for the production of a glossary before any translation takes place. The rationale behind this can be explained by the fact that a good glossary helps achieve the following:
Equally important is the process adopted to produce the glossary. In order to guarantee a certain level of accuracy, as well as achieving a broad acceptance among various stakeholders, a broad spectrum of people/expertise should be involved in producing the glossary. This should include BRIDGE facilitators, translators, linguists, election and legal experts. This combination of expertise is crucial to build support among different stakeholders who will be part of the BRIDGE program.
Finding an equal term for many BRIDGE and electoral terms in some other languages might not be an easy job. Local culture and experience may have a major impact on how terms are translated. The translation should take diversity into account by reflecting the existing local election terminology as used in constitutional and legal texts.
Where terms are completely new and not used in the target language, translators should focus on the meaning rather than the literal translation.
In addition to a glossary of electoral terms, a BRIDGE terms glossary might be required. The translation of such a glossary should benefit local training glossaries and training manuals.
Other key documents
8.9 Annex 9: Key Documents for Translation outlines a recommended translation order for BRIDGE documents, beginning with useful reference documents (outlines, summaries. guidelines) before translation of the curriculum itself.
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It is important to achieve a good return for your budget. The translation of material whilst vitally important will increase your overall costs. There are a number of budget items you may need to take into account:
There are a number of ways to calculate payment for translation. These can include:
Keep in mind local rates and international rates may change your costs markedly.
Always check to make sure that a translated document is not already held by the BRIDGE Office or perhaps locally by a partner organisation or is publicly available elsewhere. Be aware that a number of documents may already be translated and therefore will not have to be translated again.
When translations have been completed, please forward a copy to the BRIDGE Office. All translations should include the date they were translated and used.
Before translating any documents permission must be sought from the owner(s) and authors of the documents.