One of the things that sets Gengo apart in the translation industry is that we accept short and informal texts, like Tweets. We have no minimum word limits, so we’re available to anyone with a paragraph, a sentence, or even a word that needs translating. But these short jobs bring their own challenge: namely, a lack of context.
So what kind of jobs are we talking about?
You might encounter a range of jobs with a low word count. Here are some of the most common:
- Tweets: Organisations often request translation of their Twitter posts, in order to reach followers in new demographics. If a job is specifically identified as a Tweet, ensure you keep your translation within the 140 character limit and leave Twitter handles (@username) untranslated. You’ll find more information in Gengo’s Tweet Translation Guide
- Survey Responses: We’re seeing increasing numbers of jobs that contain responses to online surveys. These are generally ordered automatically through Gengo’s API function, which means you can’t contact the customer directly with queries. Focus on staying as faithful to the source text as possible, whilst “ironing out” any spelling or grammar mistakes in the source text (which are often common in these jobs)
- Instant Messages: When dealing with dialogue from instant messaging transcripts, ensure that the tone (e.g. informality) is reflected in your translation. It’s also important to keep the formatting consistent and include any emoticons from the source text.
What about the context?
The big problem with jobs of just one or two sentences is working without context. If you’re having trouble and the customer hasn’t included sufficient background in the comments section, there are a few tricks you can try:
- Ask your customer: Use the comments feature to get in touch. Often, a quick exchange will give you all the background you need
- Check for similar jobs: Short jobs are often one of several orders by a particular customer. Check the Dashboard to see if any of the available jobs help with the bigger picture
- Search Twitter: If you’re translating Tweets, a quick Twitter search will reveal which user the source came from. Scroll through their feed to get a feel for the topics that interest the author and learn more about their style
- Decipher typos: Short texts are often written in a hurry, and that means typos! If you don’t recognise a word, there’s good chance it’s a typo or spelling mistake – what other terms could the author have meant, which would fit with the context of the job?
- Use contextual tools: Websites like linguee.com use translation memory to assist with your work. These often include colloquialisms and can help you unpick new terms
What other types of short jobs have you come across? Do you have any examples of particularly fiendish translations that you’ve been able to solve?