Common Translation Errors

Translators – even professional translators – usually make these error when translating computer software.

Overview of common errors


Wrong: no capitalisation in translation
Correct: translation follows translation language capitalisation

Double words

Translator could not decide which word was more appropriate

Wrong: two translated words for one original word
Correct: choose one word if you have two options

Translated things that should stay in English

Wrong: translating program function name like get_file_attributes()
Correct: leave program syntax or function names untranslated


Wrong: variables left out of translation
Correct: variable in translation in the correct order for the language
Wrong: environment variable names (eg. EDITOR) and possible fixed values
(eg. COLOR, TRANSPARENT) translated
Correct: left in English and perhaps surrounded by single quotes to
indicate that they are not in the target language on purpose.


Wrong: leaving out end punctuation and whitespace (eg. "File: ")
Correct: copying end punctuation and whitespace almost exactly as the
original into the translation.
Wrong: adding missing fullstops to translated sentence
Correct: if full sentences do not contain a fullstop in the original do
not add one to the translation.
Wrong: adding exclamation marks (!) to the translation when they occur in the original
Correct: use exclamation marks to correspond with the tone of the
application and the convention of the translated language. Ie you may leave
them out of the translation.
Wrong: leaving out ellipses (...)
Correct: always add ellipses to the translation


Wrong: leaving out accelerators (either _&~ depending on the application)
Correct: if the original has an accelerator so should the translation
Wrong: placing the accelerator exactly in the same position as the original
Correct: place the accelerator on the word / syllable / part of the
sentence that is accented in its pronunciation or is the focus of the sentence.
Wrong: using the same letter for accelerator keys
Correct: try to vary the letters chosen as the accelerator key (in some
languages almost all words start with U or I. In this case make an effort to
choose other letters)


Wrong: HTML tags are translated
Correct: HTML tags are not translated
Wrong: translatable HTML entities are not translated
Correct: translate items that will be viewable. E.g. HTML img tag’s alt
attribute <img alt=”translate me”>, a tag’s title attribute <a href=blah
title=”translate me”>.