Welcome once again to my monthly article. See here for part 17.


The first issue I want to address here is the difference between US English and GB English. Gengo provides style guides for both language options; here for US English and here for GB English. The latter contains a vocabulary list showing a few words that are either spelled differently or are completely different in the two versions of English. This list is, of course, not comprehensive, and if you translate into both language variants it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with as many of the differences as possible. Especially when you are translating into the variant that you are not so familiar with (I, for example, am English and sometimes have to check vocabulary when translating into US English or, indeed, when checking your translations), you need to be extra vigilant. It’s not just the obvious differences, either – I am using GB spelling here and have used familiarise, while if I were writing in US English I would use familiarize – but sometimes there are unexpected differences. This happens often with, for example terminology relating to cars. The following translation says in German:


Fahrzeug sollte komplett überholt werden


and was translated as:


Vehicle needs to be completely overhauled


But in GB English it would be correct to say:


Vehicle needs to be completely restored.


So, in addition to remembering that a US trunk and hood are a GB boot and bonnet, tires in US English are tyres in GB English, and all the other commonly-known differences, I advise checking terminology before you decide on the word you are going to use if you are in any doubt at all. Linguee often helpfully adds AE or BE to tell you which option you should use, so do be aware of this. In addition, remember to use single quotation marks for GB English instead of double ones, which you should use for US English – and, of course, the other way around for quotes inside quotes: double ones inside single ones in GB English and single ones inside double ones in US English. Use a period after a title in US English (Mr.) but no full stop after a title in GB English (Mr). In GB English you should use a small letter after a colon in almost all cases, but in US English you can use a capital letter (can, not must) – however, in each case, the most important thing here is to remain consistent. Don’t mix small letters and capitals after a colon within the same text. And, most of all, be aware of which language variant you are translating into!


Moving on, I am still seeing frequent instances of extra spaces in translations. This happens a lot when translators are using the workbench. So, a reminder: do not enter a space at the end of a segment before you move onto the next segment, because this will add a line space. This is not visible on the workbench, but becomes so immediately when the translation is downloaded into a file. If you have ever used translation software of your own, you will know that when you complete your translation and carry out a QA all extra spaces, as well as missing spaces, are conveniently flagged for you to fix. On Gengo’s workbench you need to be extra vigilant. If (like me, as I have been known to make this error) you are in any doubt, simply go to the end of each segment when you have finished your translation and hit delete a couple of times. This will get rid of extra spaces and stop you getting penalised for something so minor and avoidable if your translation is checked. (And, even if it is not checked, it will mean providing the customer with a better translation – this is, of course, what you should all be aiming for). Look, too, for missing spaces between words and/or sentences as well as extra spaces.


If you are working on a file job, it is easier to see extra line spaces, of course. But you do need to be careful to use the same format in the translation as in the original as far as possible. If the original is a Word or Excel file, for instance, this should be relatively easy. If you are working from a PDF, file, you may not know the exact font style(s) and size(s), but try to replicate the layout as closely as possible. If this means making your font size smaller to fit the text onto the same number of pages, then do so if you can. Use bold and italics, the same paragraph format, and any other formatting such as bullet points, as in the original.


To round off this month’s article, another reminder not to forget to add capital letters and punctuation where necessary (including full stops/periods at the end of sentences), even if the original does not have them. And also, please spilt up long, cumbersome sentences to make your translation easy to read, rather than simply following the structure of the original. It’s the little things like this that make all the difference to your work.


Do please feel free to comment or ask questions. I will answer them promptly!


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