In the diverse Internet culture, you may find yourself interacting with people from a number of different languages, all who have something important to say about a topic or position of interest. Learning about other cultures from people who are immersed in both the culture and the language brings new insights into not only the reality of living in such a culture, but also the idioms and other language nuances that are difficult to pick up from a textbook or classroom instructional approach. This is one of the greatest values of language translation within community.
However, in order to achieve these apparently easy but lofty goals, the interaction between translator and original creator must be established from the very beginning. As the translation process moves along, clarifications can be made as to the true meaning of the text and content. It is a mistake to presume all cultures view graphical content the same way. What may be benign to the translator may be offensive to the target audience.
Many translation projects are beset with time problems. Failing to meet deadlines or encountering a huge problem in translation can set a project back weeks. One of the most direct ways to avoid such deadline misses is to focus on the most important content first. A mistranslation at the bottom of the page in 8 point font is less likely to cause a concern than if you het the Heading 1 title wrong. Think of it as actually speaking to someone from the culture. Will they care if you misrepresented the official title of the country’s leader or if you made a mistake in the translation of “Media Contacts”?
One of the biggest concerns for cultural communities where the population is small or there is a small number of people who speak the language is whether they will draw sufficient interest from translation communities to take on their project. The immediate perception is that there is not enough money to pay translators to do the job. A problem with this view for community translators is the customer will see you as a mercenary business rather than someone is who is genuinely trying to help keep the language and culture alive.
This issue takes on a historical perspective as well, and makes community translation a historical project as well as a linguistic project. The people whom you are translating for are likely to see it this way than a means to bring their information to a 21st century world. The content of a web page is far likely to be more valuable to future generations than the current, aging one. It should go without saying that cultural sensitivity is a prerequisite for taking on any community translation project, but should be especially noted in these smaller community projects.
There is no doubt about it, community translation serves a number of purposes and achieves a number of things for both the customer and the translator. Prioritizing quality of translation and sensitivity to culture are two of the key elements in the successful completion of a project.