If someone at MTM LinguaSoft tells you they are running a pseudo-translation on your content, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that we’re off our game or that we don’t care about your project. Pseudo-translation is a process that allows us to spot potential problems in the layout or display of your translated document, website, or software application before translation begins.

Pseudo-translation works by taking the source text and generating a fake translation using a computer-based algorithm. Although the generated “translation” makes little or no sense, it bears certain important resemblances to the eventual translation.

  • It generates character sets that are commonly found in the language.
  • It predicts text expansion or contraction based on the characteristics of the target language.

Typically, we use the pseudo-translation for a preliminary desktop publishing / design layout session, so that design problems can be identified and corrected in the source document before beginning the “real” translation process.

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Translated documents are notorious for “text expansion/contraction.” In short, this means that the number of words required to get the same point across can differ between the target and source language. Documents that have been carefully designed and laid out in English may look crowded and messy when translated into Arabic, which requires up to 25% more characters, or sparse and lonely in Korean, which uses 10-15% fewer characters.

If we identify layout problems in a pseudo-translated document, we might advise you to adjust the source—reducing the amount of text, enlarging text boxes, etc.—so that the look and feel of the original can be properly preserved in the translated version. Here is an example of English to German pseudo-translation that demonstrates the need for a design tweak.

On the left is the "pseudo-translation" showing text expansion of translation into German. Translators were asked to translate extra succinctly, and client was advised to change fonts. The final result is on right.

On the left is the “pseudo-translation” showing text expansion of translation into German. Translators were asked to translate extra succinctly, and client was advised to change fonts. The final result is on the right.

For websites and apps, pseudo-translation can also help identify problems with software encoding schemes that might make it difficult to display “multi-byte” characters common in Asian languages or particular diacritics in other foreign languages. In this case, the pseudo-translation will demonstrate to the client that their developer should adjust back-end programming and the CMS to accommodate new alphabets and characters prior to translation.

Finally, pseudo-translation is a quick and easy way to make sure that all of the translatable content is being exported from a website or application before the translation process begins.

Pseudo-translation provides a window into the future design of your translated project. It helps you to identify and resolve issues before they become a problem, thus increasing efficiency and speed of delivery to you.

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