Lingua Translators Guide
From Global Voices Wiki
Hello Translators! This guide explains the process of creating translations of Global Voices posts within the Lingua network and from the Lingua sites. It should be very thorough and cover most issues we tend to face.
Other important documents:
- GV Posting Guide Technical information about authoring posts including text formatting styles and instructions for dealing with images and video.
- Style Guide Information about our stylistic standards like tone of voice.
- Lingua Editors Guide Information for Lingua Translation Managers about administrating a site.
If you are a brand new translator and haven't read the Welcome to New Translators page then please do so now, it will introduce you to Global Voices and our community, while this page will explain the technical details of posting translations. You can also check out this short screencast explaining the process.
If you are not a Global Voices contributor yet please see the Get Involved page to learn how to become an author or translator.
If you look for some information and can't find it here please send an email to the GV Lingua mailing list and mention that you didn't find the answer here, we can all work together to make this documentation as complete and thorough as possible.
Background on Global Voices and WordPress
The software we use for the main Global Voices site as well as for lingua is called WordPress. It is a blogging tool with lots of options and features that we use for pretty much all our sites. A full explanation of how to use WP for blogging is a bit beyond the scope of this document, but it is fairly intuitive and you should be able to get the hang of it pretty fast. If you want to learn about using WordPress they have good documentation at their documentation wiki.
Note on text editors and NEVER USING MICROSOFT WORD
Translating posts can be done entirely within the WordPress admin site if you like doing it that way. However sometimes it is nice to work locally using a nice text editor with syntax-highlighting for HTML. It is also a good idea to save your post text on your local computer while you work in case something goes wrong with the site and your text gets lost, this shouldn't happen but sometimes it does.
If you want to edit locally:
- Start the translation process by importing the content from the source url.
- Copy the text you need to translate into your local text editor.
- Translate the text there.
- Paste the text into the content body in WordPress and save the translation.
Here are some recommended free text editors that work great with HTML:
- Windows: Notepad++
- Mac OSX: Fraise
- Linux: gEdit (a.k.a. Text Editor. It should already be installed if you use Ubuntu)
WARNING about Microsoft Word: Using Microsoft Word or similar complex word processors will make your article broken when you save it because they add extra crap to the HTML that makes WordPress freak out. Please use only simple editors or code editors like the ones mentioned above.
Creating translations from one website to another is fairly easy. Hopefully the hardest part is the actual translation!
For a video introduction to creating translations see this screencast
Importing content from source
The first step in translating a post is grabbing the URL (link) of the source post that you want to translate and entering it in the Lingua Translator box in the New Post screen of the site you are translating for.
- Go to the source post you want to translate.
- Copy the url.
- Go to the site your are translating for and log in (add /wp-admin/ to the end of site URL to log in)
- Go to Posts > Add New from the dashboard.
- Paste the URL of source post into the GV Lingua Translation box.
- Click the Fetch Post Data button.
This will check that the url is valid, save the translation record and return the content from the source post to your translation post so you can start translating it. The following information should automatically be populated in your new post based on returned data:
- Post title
- Post content
- Post excerpt (if it exists at the source)
- Post categories
- Post thumbnail image (if it exists at the source)
- Other post metadata (featured images etc.)
After you fetch content the GV Lingua Translation box will also show you information about the source post to confirm that the translation record is working properly. Please ensure that the information is correct and that it links to the post you are translating.
Note: The system is set up to show you errors if there is a problem with your url. Please read any errors carefully and follow their instructions. If you have continued problems please contact your Lingua editor, or the Multilingual editor if you are translating into English.
Updating a translation record without importing content
The other button in the GV Lingua Translation box is Update. This allows you to save or re-save the translation record (the relationship between the two posts as translations of each other) without importing all the actual post content. This is useful if something is wrong with the translation information and it needs to be updated or if the translation record is missing for some reason.
Pushing the Fetch Post Data button when a post already contains text will add the source post information to the end of whatever content is already there, so be careful with this button when you are editing posts that aren't completely empty.
Translating Post Title and Content
This is obvious but I'll mention it here for completeness sake: Once you have imported the content you should go through the post's title at the top and content in the big box and make sure that everything has been translated into your language.
The exceptions are HTML tags ( like <img> ), (like http://site.com) and bits of content that are already in a different language from the source (i.e. 'translation' sections).
Read more about the translation sections below.
An Optional Excerpt is a short description of the post that is shown instead of the full content on the homepage, category pages and other archives. Not every post on Global Voices has an excerpt but if they do you should translate that text before publishing your translation, otherwise the excerpt will show up in the original language on the homepage of the site you are translating for.
Just take a second to check the Optional Excerpt box on the post editing page after you do your content importing.
Automatic Post Information
While you have to translate the title, content and excerpt of the post there is other information that will be imported automatically for you and doesn't need any action from you. Nonetheless its good to be aware of them and you should try to notice if any of these automatically-imported data are missing:
- Post thumbnail - A small image URL. This should be in the GV Thumbnails box on the post editing page. They don't always exist on source posts so they might not be on every translation.
- Source metadata - This is the information about the source post that lets the Lingua site show information like original author and link back to the original source. If there is ever a problem with the Source Metadata then use the Update button in the GV Lingua Translations box to refresh it.
- Categories - They will show up in the sidebar of the post editing screen and match those on the original. There should always be some categories on every post. If there are none you have probably encountered a bug.
NOTE: Please do not add any categories for translations of posts from Global Voices. A common mistake it to add the language of the Lingua site you are volunteering for, but this is not needed. The language category should reflect the languages of the blogs quoted and what languages are in the posts we are linking to.
On Lingua sites you are supposed to just use the same categories that are on the English post. Your language should not be added to the list unless there is a link to your language in the post. If you notice a mistake in the original categories then you might want to report this through our Edit Request form.
Exception is for posts from Advocacy and Rising Voices, which need to have most categories chosen and added manually, according to your own discretion and the nature of the post.
While you're translating a post there are certain elements of a post that you should convert so they work better for your linguistic audience.
If the post you are translating has a video, you may want to subtitle it to increase its accessibility. Please check our guideline Using Amara To Subtitle Videos.
Although most links in a translated pieces will remain the same, there are some instances in which translators can and should localise links themselves. The text or the words linked should always be translated, so that the text reads well.
- Always change links when the original post you are translating links to a previously translated Global Voices post in your language.
- If a website linked offers a version in your language, do change the link too, so that it points to the local version.
- It is also advisable that you change Wikipedia links, provided that your language has a satisfactory page on the same subject.
- You can change links to general mainstream media, when used to provide background information, if you find good equivalent news stories. Prioritize links within the same source: BBC, Reuters and a few others sites offer localized websites that may have reported on the same news from the post you are translating.
In case you can not find a piece of news from the same source describing the same event, the second option is to try to find an equivalent news article in your language, from a reputable source, that presents the same information and angles.
Please bear in mind that this is valid only for background information about general events. This is not the same as to change links that are to editorial posts or opinion pieces, or those in which the mainstream media site linked plays a pivotal role in the story or if it is mentioned as the source of information.
See an example of this in this story about President Obama's visit to Brazil, where newspaper Folha de São Paulo is the source of an important piece of information.
You are also allowed to, at your discretion, add links to further background information in your language, if you think that the readers would benefit from extra contextualisation, even if the source post you are translating from don't have any links.
Don't forget to add the two letter language tags indicators in lower case, e.g. [en], [es], [ar], and to never change links to the blogs quoted. If a post have many links and the majority of them are non localizable, it is acceptable to indicate it in a not at the beginning of the post, instead of after each link.
[All links lead to Portuguese language pages, except when otherwise noted.]
[All links lead to Spanish language pages]
We tend to leave the original hashtag and then put a [...] note explaining the word if it's in another language or isn't obvious. The way to do this may vary from group to group – please check with your editor what is the site's style.
For Global Voices in Spanish, for example, translators leave the hashtag, but include a translation using , but the words inside the brackets don't keep the hashtag format: they are written separately and respecting upper/lower caps:
Protestors in Egypt gather around Tahrir Square. #Jan25 #Egypt #TahrirSquare
Manifestantes en Egipto se reúnen alrededor de la Plaza Tahrir. #Jan25 [25 de enero] #Egypt [Egipto] #TahrirSquare [Plaza Tahrir]
Links should be followed by the appropriate international language code, which is used to indicate what language they refer to.
For translations from English into Lingua, ideally, the author will have already provided it in their original post, except for those links that take the reader to websites in English. The most common languages at the GV at the moment are:
Arabic - ar Chinese - zh English - en French - fr Hebrew - he Japanese - ja Persian - fa Portuguese - pt Russian - ru Spanish - es
For translations from Lingua into English, the translator will need to provide the language code of the links, as well as delete any reference to links in English that may have been provided by the author.
Here is a link to a complete Wikipedia list of languages/codes.
For sentences with too many links, feel free not to add the codes after every one of them, especially if they are all related to the same language.
So instead of:
Sunflower [En] writes [En] in her post Alice in Wonderland [En] about a nice video [En] she found.
You could have:
Sunflower writes in her post Alice in Wonderland about a nice video she found [En - all links].
Or, in case all the links in the post are about the same language, you can let readers know at the beginning or end of your translation. Example:
[All links lead to Portuguese language pages, except when otherwise noted.]
[All links lead to Spanish language pages]
If you feel that a particular piece of information deserves extra clarification to help a reader who is not familiar with the subject, you can add a translation note at the end of the paragraph you are translating, or at the end of the piece. Please use brackets:
[translation note: Lampião was the nickname of Virgulino Ferreira da Silva.]
Crafting headlines and excerpts
Translators and editors have more freedom to translate headlines and excerpts in a way that will be more appealing and relevant to local public. They may be adapted to Lingua local audience, and either follow the original post or the English translation, or differ from both of them, as long as they remain faithful to the original idea.
Translation Philosophy: “Mirror it” v. “Make it new”
There are several schools of translation out there, there is the "mirror" school (keep it exactly the same to preserve accuracy) and there is the "make it new" school.
Ideally, translators will adopt a sensible approach that incorporates elements of each and will use their judgment taking in account their audience to make calls on tough case scenarios. When in doubt though, resort to cultural translation and avoid translating idioms literally.
Translators are encouraged to use bracketed "translators' notes" when they needed to change something in the original post. Here is a ridiculous example:
Once upon a time [Note: In English, this is a common expression used to start a fantastical story] there was a young princess blah blah blah.
Also, remember that Global Voices is closer to a news site – so this is the register to go for!
Translating non-English posts
On GV most translations are from English into another language, but as more posts are originally written in other languages this is changing. When you are translating a post that was written in e.g. Arabic you can choose whether to base your translation on the Arabic version, or the English translation. When deciding please bear in mind these two rules:
- Ideally you should always be translating into your mother tongue.
- If possible, you should translate from the original language.
If you choose to translate from a language other than English it is also good to keep an eye on the English version, both in case it has useful insight into the text, and in case it contains translation errors that the original translator missed.
If you are fluent in the language of a quote, feel free to translate directly from it rather than from the English translation. If you find the English translation of the quote is wrong or misleading, please report it to the relevant author/translator.
Headlines and Excerpts
Headlines and excerpts may be adapted to better serve a local Lingua audience. When translating a post you may either follow the original post or the English translation, or differ from both of them. You may also add additional contextualization for sake of understanding ( eg. explanation of names, places, expressions. )
Handling Discrepancies and Translation Errors
If you discover discrepancies between the meaning of the original post and the meaning of the English translation you should use your personal judgement for your own translation and when necessary contact the original author and/or English translator to clarify (Use the email contact form on their public GV user profiles).
When dealing with language and phrasing differences siding with the original post is usually better. On the other hand if the difference is that the English version has more context or clarity intended for an international audience, then including that extra context is a good idea.
If there is a large, confusing or problematic discrepancy please contact the relevant authors/translators to ensure that all versions are edited to be accurate. You may also use the Lingua Edit Request Form to quickly contact the Lingua managers about problematic translation discrepancies.
GV HTML and Style Considerations
When translating post content you should keep in mind the standards that Global Voices uses for making our particular content look good on the final page. Here are some of the major HTML styles we use that you should maintain in your translations.
All the HTML from the original post should be imported into the translation, so just editing the text should be enough to keep things the same, but watch out for accidentally removing important styles.
For large, quoted text we use the <blockquote> HTML tags (there is a button in the editor to make this easier). Eg:
This is what he said: <blockquote> BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH</blockquote>
These blocks of text will have a white background with a quotation mark in them to denote that they are quotes from elsewhere.
When translating text, the policy at GV is to show the original text in a <blockquote> tag in its native language followed immediately by the translated text in a translation block like so:
<blockquote>My chair is very small</blockquote> <blockquote class="translation">Ma chaise est très petite</blockquote>
Translation quotes use <blockquote class="translation">
The code for the translation can be added by copying and paste the above or, if editing in HTML view, selecting the text that is a translation of a quote and clicking on the translation button.
Either way, when translating post content you should leave the original native-language text alone in its blockquote and only change the translated text in the class="translation" block.
Because Arabic/Hebrew text is right-to-left in direction there is a special class for blocks of Arabic or hebrew text. It will change the text alignment and also make the text larger (because arabic needs a bigger font to be clearly readable).
<div class="arabic">اف الفلسطينيين والإسرائيليين ف</div>
Whether it is a div, a p or a blockquote the class='arabic' serves to change the text direction. If you are translating a post with the .arabic class you should not remove it unless you are translating to a Right-to-left lingua site (i.e. Arabic/Hebrew/Farsi), in which case it can be removed and replaced with a standard blockquote.
(If you are an Arabic/Hebrew translator please use class="translation" instead of class="Arabic")
Notes / Translation Notes
To add some visually distinguished translation notes at the beginning or end of a post please use the "notes" class in a div around your content. Translation notes can be used to add necessary context or information for your linguistic audience:
<div class="notes">Notes: This post is being ironic.</div>
Other CSS Styles in Posts
Please DO NOT use any other CSS styles in your posts than the ones listed above. You should be able to control the look of your posts using the HTML tags listed above the posting area like <strong> and <em>.
Using other css (things like <p style="padding:5px;">) could break the page and not be noticed by your editor. If you feel that you need more options while editing posts please ask your editor for advice. If the CSS you want is really necessary, your editor can work with the tech team to make it part of the standard Lingua CSS or else add it to your language site's custom CSS file.
Other Style Considerations
- Italics: Either italicize blog names or don't. Whichever you choose, be consistent throughout your translation. If you choose to not italicize and the title has more than one word, capitalize the first letter of each word. Example: either Blog Jokester or Blog jokester.
- Capitalization: For consistency the first letter in the first word of titles should be capitalized. Example: Soudan: Diversité et identité culturelle as opposed to Soudan: diversité et identité culturelle.
Found errors? Have questions?
We are very greateful to have our translators as best readers, because they need to pay extra attention to every word written on Global Voices. As a member of the Lingua team, it is probable that you will come across errors and have the opportunity to help improve our work.
Below is a list of common problems with posts:
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Videos not working
- Broken links
- Formatting problems
- Wrong information
- information missing, i.e., credit of photos
- Text making no sense
In case you encounter any of the above or anything that you consider a error or a mistake, please do report it to the deputy or managing editor, so that the source and translated posts are also dealt with. It is easy: all you need to do it to use the Edit Request form – where you will need to inform the link of the post you are translating, and provide information about the error you found. Please feel free to report errors found in any site.
Links on the internet die sometimes. If you notice that a link has stopped working on a post you are translating, there are two ways to deal with it:
1) If you can find the same article at a new link, then replace the old link with the new one.
2) If you can't find the original post you should mark the link as dead with the <del> html tag (which is in the editing buttons in Wordpress) and add a brief note about the dead link:
<del><a href="http://url.com/postlocation/"></del> [dead link]
Which will show the link with a line through the middle of it, like
In any case, please report any broken link you find, so that the source post and other translations are fixed too.
On every author page at the main GV site there is a box that lets you email the author directly.
Example - See on the right sidebar its' a grey box, you click it and it shows the email form.
If you have time to wait for an email reply, then this is a good method to contact individual authors with questions. You can get to any author's page by clicking their name or photo on the article itself.
If you need a faster response or if it depends more on a language problem than on real context then maybe try the appropriate editor from the main GV site, who will likely be able to help you as well (with a little information from you). You can reach regional and language editors using the GV Contact Page by choosing the appropriate recipient and sending it to them.
When sending emails to authors, please use the subject "LINGUA TRANSLATION HELP NEEDED" so that they don't suspect it's spam or something.
Final check list
When you have finished a translation, always click on 'Preview' to see the post in context. It will help you to check that your translation mirrors the original post and is error free. Get in the habit to check the items on this list before publishing or sending for review:
- Have all captions been translated?
- Do the videos work?
- Do the links work?
- Have you inserted language codes after links to pages in different languages to the one you are translating into?
- Go back to the Wordpress editor: have you translated the excerpt?
After taking all the above steps, it is time to send for review. Don't forget to send an email to your editor to let them know the post is ready to be reviewed and published – Wordpress will not attempt to notify them automatically.
Please check our Toolbox for a list of useful resources for translators.
Promote your translation
Promote your translations using the 'Share This' tools that you will find below post content and in a similar box at the top right of posts. This system uses the Facebook 'Recommend' button and Twitter's official 'Tweet button'.
Recommending your translations right away after you post them will help spread the word and also avoid having the tweet button show a lonely "0" next to it.
You can also use other so-called micro-blogging platform manually to spread and interact within your local language community.
If your Lingua community does not have a twitter account yet, check the GV Twitter Template Guide.