Looking After Words
Blog posted by: Jarek Kowalski – Translation/Localization Project Manager, AXELOS and Amy Metcalfe – Project Editor, AXELOS, 30 September 2020.
Imagine you are getting ready to take the PRINCE2® Foundation exam. You have been studying from the manual, learning about best practices for managing projects. But then, in the exam, you suddenly realize that all of the questions are about leading, controlling, or coordinating projects. You are confused: Where did the management go? How are you supposed to know which answer is correct when none of them match the words in the book?
At AXELOS, the Translations team tries to make sure that this situation never happens. We work hard to translate our core guidance and exams from English into other languages using the right words in translation so that it is just as good as the original.
Common terminology is essential because it enables everyone who has studied the same material to discuss processes, actions, or ideas using the same words. We want to help these conversations happen across national and linguistic borders!
Our adventure with words starts whenever new content is being written: we offer advice on terms and phrasing that makes the language easier for non-native English speakers to understand. This also makes it easier to translate later!
Developing the glossary
At the beginning of every translation project, we create a glossary of terms that you need to know to understand the content and this glossary is then translated. But how do we know we have the right words?
We work with subject matter experts—experienced and recognized practitioners from different countries in our global market—to ensure that translated glossary terms are technically accurate. For each project, we work with several experts to ensure that the language we use is accessible to all readers, not just those familiar with a particular field or branch of industry.
Working on the manual
Only when the glossary has been translated and reviewed by experts do we start to translate the books. We carefully use the language from the glossary to ensure everything remains consistent. However, as we go through the book, the translators and expert reviewers usually realize that some words are not quite right. If we make changes to the glossary, we have to go back and amend all the content.
When the whole manual has been translated and reviewed, we discuss all the changes with our experts to finalize everything, which includes agreeing on the translations of any important terms that were discovered during the review.
Okay, so the glossary and the manual are done. But our adventure doesn’t end there! All of our exam content has to go through the same process of translation, review, and discussion.
Translating the exams
It is crucial that we ensure all of our terminology is consistent across the books and the exams, because the exam question writers are crafty. To really test you, they often use near synonyms and alternative terms in their questions and answers.
The key for the candidate is that the terms in the correct exam answers have been translated in exactly the same way as they were in the books. The smallest variation can increase the level of intentional misdirection in the exam.
Keeping up with new terms
You might think that, when the glossaries, books, and exams are all translated and reviewed, our job is finished, but our adventure never really ends. As the number of people using our translated content is growing, we have more and more feedback that we can use to improve our translations over time.
Moreover, language is a living tool that is continually adapted by its users. In time, new terms will appear and others will gradually fall out of use. We have to adapt too, or risk being left behind. This means that translation work is endlessly fascinating! Our adventure goes ever on and on…
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