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Save time scripting

By Hilary Picken | January 8, 2019 | Translation Tips

Save time scripting

In most cases, translations can be completed without a hitch, but that isn’t always the case if translation hasn’t been taken into account when the questionnaire was being scripted.

Below we’ve compiled a list of handy hints to bear in mind (and some things to avoid!) when you’re preparing your survey to ensure that you get the best translation cost and turnaround time possible.


Include master lists for long and repetitive answer lists

The translator will only need to deal with them once so both costs and timings can be kept to a minimum. This compares with scripting the same list in multiple places which usually leads to higher than anticipated translation costs and a nasty surprise in terms of the deadline, particularly if the list only seems to appear once in the original questionnaire.

Avoid using inserts for single words

Inserting the name of a different sport or household appliance, for example, into a sentence may work in English but it’s unlikely to work in other languages which have different grammar rules, genders for words, etc. Not only will it take the translator longer to make it fit but it’s likely to lead to clumsy phrasing as the translators try to fit a square block into a round hole!

Avoid splitting sentences or grammatical constructions

Replacing “has” with “had” may be a simple switch in English but it isn’t that straight-forward in other languages. What’s more, although you may appear to be cutting down on the number of words to translate (an extra word rather than an extra sentence), the translation process is actually likely to be more time-consuming and the end result could sound awkward and possibly even mislead respondents.

Multiple inserts within a single phrase cause confusion

Replacing several elements of a single sentence with different inserts to create many permutations of the same question can be confusing for translators and cause grammar and syntax problems. Creating multiple sentences in their entirety for the translators to translate will generate a much higher quality translation for your respondents, thereby improving the quality of your survey results.

Exclude text from your file if you don’t want it to be translated

Quite simply, if you exclude or clearly highlight text that doesn’t need to be translated, PMs and linguists can focus on what does need to be translated. A marked up file will save precious time and money in terms of both preparing quotes and translating your documents.

If possible, send along the draft/file that will be programmed into your scripting software before you script, complete with as many final scripting instructions as possible. At the initial quoting stage we can advise both on preliminary costs as well as any pitfalls you can avoid in scripting the file into your chosen software. This extra step can save you time and money in the long run.

Think like a respondent

Keep in mind, the more time you spend scripting your survey taking into account the translation process, the better the resulting translations will be. Not only will it help to streamline costs and timings, but the more natural the translation sounds, the more easily understood it will be by respondents. This in turn will improve the survey results.