Translation is the complex process of transferring the components of a message from one language and culture into another language and culture. These components can be in the form of "language" (most of the time) or colors, shapes, sounds, etc. For the transfer process to succeed, all ingredients of the original message should be clear and well defined.
The author is responsible for the clarity of the components of his document. This should be taken into account regardless whether the document is going to be translated or not. The biggest problem of any translation process is when some of the original components are ambiguous. The translator cannot translate when he doesn't understand what he has in front of his eyes; this is when he starts making assumptions, leading to bad translation quality of course.
The translator is required to know very well the environment of the original document, not only the language and culture but also the "topic". Translators always commit the mistake of accepting to translate languages that they don't fully understand and subjects that they are not familiar with. A bad translator can easily convert a masterpiece into rubbish; a good translator will have difficulties converting a rubbish text into a master piece.
It is essential that both author and translator are aware of the importance of each of their ingredients. This is the only way to guarantee a good quality translation.
But the biggest burden in the translation process lies on the shoulders of the authors; in addition to thinking of their own documents, they have to think of any potential translations. While it is unrealistic to think of all the languages and cultures of the world, it is possible to think of the "universals". There are linguistic universals, such as doer (agent), verb, object, etc. that all languages share; and there are cultural universals, such as ethics, religion, gastronomy, music, etc. Authors have to think of the transferability of their messages during the elaboration process. They can either facilitate or block the transfer of their ideas and thoughts; the decision is in their hands. Authors should do their utmost to make the life of the translator easier; the recipe is straightforward (this applies to human translations, see requirements for machine translation-friendly authoring):
- Follow the linguistic rules of your own language.
- Respect the semantics of your own language; do not invent terms and words.
- Respect the spirit, character and style of your own language.
- Put your ideas in a clear and well structured manner.
If authors do their share, translators have to honour their part as well:
- You should know very well both your own language and the source language.
- You should know very well both your own culture and the culture of the author.
- You should know very well the subject (topic).
- You should know very well the terminology in both languages.
Translation-friendly authoring is a keystone in Multilingual and Multicultural Communication; it facilitates access to your ideas and messages, accelerates the translation process, increases the quality of translation and paves the way in front of Machine Translation Systems (Automatic Translation).