Our client, a global business headquartered in Korea, manufactures medical supplies and devices. They needed translation for medical supply catalogs. Their marketing material was originally translated into Latin American Spanish by another language provider. However, the client was not satisfied with the service. When they updated their source catalogs, they came to Scriptis and requested these updates to the Spanish-language versions. They also requested translation for IFUs (Instructions for Use) for many of their products.
Unfortunately, the client’s former team had not created a translation memory (TM) at the time of the original translation. A TM streamlines multilingual updates by comparing the new version to the old, autocompleting exact matches, and flagging substantive changes. Without a TM, updating the Spanish-language catalogs required more effort than it normally would.
Under normal conditions, we would have used computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to align the existing source and target documents. Alignment creates a TM that can be used as a foundation for the updated Spanish version.
However, in this case, performing an alignment was not an option. The catalogs and IFUs were created using Adobe Illustrator. The AI file format is incompatible with CAT tools. Therefore, the source material already required substantial file preparation. File preparation for both the English source and the existing Spanish translation would take too much time. Given this barrier, it became clear that translators should start from scratch, and use the existing translation as an external reference.
In order to upload the source content to the CAT tool, we converted the source files into SVG (scalable vector graphics) files. Because the catalog pages and IFUs were constructed from a separate file for every page, we prepared many individual files for translation. During this process, we discovered another challenge. Although the source was English, some Korean fonts appeared in the files as well. These generated extra formatting tags when the content was imported into the CAT tool. We developed a script to filter these out.
After we completed the preparation, we sent the files to our team of Latin American translators with the appropriate medical subject matter knowledge. They began by creating a term base, using the old Spanish materials as reference material as much as possible. Using a term base in conjunction with a CAT tool ensures consistent use of terminology across all of a client’s content. After the catalog translation and proofreading was completed and approved, the project TM was used to create the IFUs as well. As a final step, our multilingual desktop publishing team reformatted the translated design files to compensate for text expansion, validate the line breaks, and adjust the fonts.
Overall, this case study illustrates the importance of creating translation-friendly source materials. When creating content for localization, ask your language service partner for tips on design choices. We strongly recommend that clients use Adobe InDesign for graphics-heavy documents. Source files created using Illustrator, Photoshop, or Publisher will require extra prep.
The project also demonstrates the impact of professional translation tools on ongoing cost savings. This project would have been much less expensive if the original translation team had used the correct tools. At Scriptis, using CAT tools to create a TM is part of our normal workflow. Now that a comprehensive translation memory exists, the next update of client’s Spanish-language catalog will be faster and far more economical.
Finally, the success of the project is a tribute to our tech-savvy project manager. The ability to troubleshoot and solve technical difficulties is a key benefit of working with the Scriptis team on complex projects.
For more information on leveraging translation memories for frequently updated materials, see our blog post “What are CAT tools and how do they benefit you?”