Found in translation

Why all writing is an act of translation, and why that matters when you’re producing a high volume of content. 

It’s very easy to tell when you’re in need of translation services.  You hold in your possession a piece of writing in, say, German, and for you to understand it, it needs to be in English. It’s a little harder to conceptualize that need when no language barrier exists.

In my years as a freelance writer and  translator, I learned that, whether you’re looking for something to shift between languages or formats, the task ahead remains unchanged.

When I was literally translating:

Publications would call me with hints of a story that rippled its way to a NY office. My favorite was about two aging sisters whose mom left them a safe deposit box, that may or may not contain unpublished Kafka manuscripts. Collections of documents were sent my way, and I was asked to only translate the “interesting and worthwhile” portions. Pretty straightforward.

Kind of.

Translation is never a simple act of taking one word and jotting down its equivalent in another tongue. There are factors considered in every word choice that relate to the culture of the origin, and that of the receiver.  It’s more often an act of interpretation – what is important, and what is the most efficient way of stressing relevant points for a given audience.

When I was just writing:

As a freelancer, I took jobs writing anything from screenplays to policy and procedure manuals. The task of taking one stack of information and reworking it to fit a new format always looked a lot like translating between two languages.  You may need to move from the client’s cinematic vision to the technical screenplay document, or read a slew of federal health regulations and translate them into something actually accessible.

How this relates to Scripted:

To move any project from mind to paper is to translate an idea into a form that is, ideally, accessible and directed. There are factors considered in every word choice that relate to the culture, knowledgebase,  and assumptions of the origin as well as that of the receiver/s.

While it would be misleading for Scripted to market itself as a company that performs translation, much of the time, that is implicit in the service we provide – English to English translations, or business to audience (be it consumer, or business) translation.

Producing a single piece of content affords the luxury of writing and rewriting until something feels right. But, when you’re in the business of high volume content, as many of our customers are, you want a system in place that ensures long term success and ease of process.

In structuring our platform, we incorporated the nuances of translation. Instead of simply asking businesses what they wanted their writers to write about, and assuming the answers would always yield pieces of content they would be happy with, we expanded our focus.  In truth, we tried different variations of interpretive questions that would be needed to scale. We learned each format interacts differently with its audience, and we’ve tailored inquiries by format intention. Our system is built to supply writers with everything they need in order to perform an effective translation of ideas to content…and by extension to reader.