Before starting, please check our Platform Guidelines.
1. Post-edition at Unbabel
At Unbabel we have a unique approach to translation: each text submitted by a customer is translated by our Machine Translation system, and then corrected by our community of editors in an online platform. By editing the output of the software, the editors ensure the quality of the translations and confirm that the message is accurate (i.e., has the same meaning as the original), fluent (i.e., can be easily understood and sounds natural) and is in line with the style requested by the clients (i.e. respects their register and terminology). In order to help editors do the best job possible, we provide various types of information:
- Customer instructions, which include the identification of the client and his requests to personalize the translation, such as the register that must be used to address the recipient of the message. Following these instructions is vital to deliver translations that match the client’s expectations.
- Glossaries, which correspond to specific vocabulary and expressions used by the client, and that must be respected by the editors.
- Translation Memories, which correspond to stored segments (expressions, sentences or paragraphs) that have previously been translated and accepted for customer usage. They are useful for ensuring consistency across translations.
We also have Smartcheck, which is an application that checks the grammar, morphology, orthography and style of the translations while being edited. By using a large set of rules, Smartcheck flags words or groups of words that may present some kind of issue.
Finally, in order to deliver the best possible translation, we also provide these guidelines about your language specifications. Please, read them carefully and always follow these instructions in your editions.
2.1. Sentence structure
The position of enclitics in Bosnian language
Enclitics cannot come immediately after the inserted parts in a sentence (which are usually separated by commas).
Source text: No matter what they did, they will surely be held responsible for it.
✘ Oni, bez obzira šta su činili, će sigurno odgovarati.
✓ Oni će, bez obzira šta su činili, sigurno odgovarati.
Enclitics are moved towards the beginning of the sentence as much as possible which often leads to their insertion between parts of:
(a) congruent and incongruent noun phrases
Source text: Our love will be quiet.
✘ Naša ljubav biće tiha.
✓ Naša će ljubav biti tiha.
(b) even such solid combinations of words as personal names and surnames, different names, etc.
Source text: Stjepan Tomašević is the last Bosnian king.
✓ Stjepan Tomašević je posljednji bosanski kralj.
✓ Stjepan Tomašević posljednji je bosanski kralj.
✘ Stjepan je Tomašević posljednji bosanski kralj.
In Bosnian, the elements of a syntagm such as nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives need to be in agreement with respect to number, gender, person and case.
Active voice vs. Passive voice
The nature of Bosnian language is such that active voice is much more frequent than passive voice (commonly used in English).
Source text: A book has been read by Esma.
✘ Knjiga je pročitana od Esme.
✓ Esma je pročitala knjigu.
2.4. Personal pronouns
There is no need to explicitly state pronouns in Bosnian. The grammatical person is visible from the form of the verb.
Source text: They are disappointed.
✘ Oni su razočarani.
✓ Razočarani su.
In Bosnian, the possessive pronoun for each person (“svoj”, “svoja”, “svoje”) indicates belonging to the subject of the sentence. It is not appropriate to use the pronouns “moj” (my), “tvoj” (your), “naš” (our), “vaš” (your, pl.) instead of “svoj” (one’s own) and in the 3rd person it can also lead to a difference in meaning.
Source text: I ate my soup.
✘ Pojela sam moju čorbu.
✓ Pojela sam svoju čorbu.
Source text: Mark drank his drink.
✘ Marko je popio njegovo piće. (Marko drank another man’s drink)
✓ Marko je popio svoje piće.
N.B. Possessive pronouns in Bosnian are equivalent to possessive adjectives in English.
Make sure you use appropriate prepositions when translating into Bosnian, even though a preposition is not used in English (which is quite frequently misleading during translation).
Source text: Please, contact the company manager.
✘ Kontaktirajte menadžera kompanije.
✓ Kontaktirajte sa menadžerom kompanije.
Prepositions have fixed (unchanging) forms; however, they are in agreement with specific cases. Preposition “nadomak” (near, close to) is in agreement with the dative, but it is often mistakenly used with the accusative.
Source text: We reached the vicinity of Sarajevo.
✘ Stigli smo nadomak Sarajeva.
✓ Stigli smo nadomak Sarajevu.
3.1. Bosnian alphabet and writing order
Bosnian uses both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabet, with Latin in everyday use.
In common writing, accents are inserted only for those words which could otherwise be differently understood.
Source text: code
The word “kod” in Bosnian can be a preposition (at) or a noun (code).
However, if the word “kod” meaning “code” is used in a sentence, we have a context and can leave the accent out.
In Bosnian, an apostrophe shows where a letter has been left out.
Source text: If you got married, I’d self-poison.
✘ Da se’ oženiš, bih se otrovala.
✘ Da s oženiš, bih se otrovala.
✓ Da se oženiš, jab’ se otrovala.
An apostrophe is not used at the end of a shortened verb or shortened present participles.
Source text: Look before you leap.
✘ Valja bacit’ udicu, pa uhvatit’ ribicu.
✓ Valja bacit udicu, pa uhvatit ribicu.
If standard Bosnian language accepts a word in both - short and long form, and you use short form of the word, you DO NOT use an apostrophe (e.g. k / ka (towards), kad / kada (when), mladog / mladoga (the young one), onom / onome (to that one)).
Source text: Walk towards me.
✘ Kreni k’ meni.
✓ Kreni k meni.
Unlike English, Bosnian language does not capitalize the first letter of the names of days, months, languages, or adjectives derived from country names.
Source text: I have a German lesson on Monday.
✘ Imam čas Njemačkog jezika u Ponedjeljak.
✓ Imam čas njemačkog jezika u ponedjeljak.
Compound words in Bosnian are written as one word (most frequently) or with a hyphen.
Source text: not valid
3.5. Foreign words
Foreign words which are not proper nouns are written phonetically, that is the way they are pronounced in Bosnian.
Source text: software
This rule does not apply to all foreign words, only to those which are so common that they got a Bosnian version, e.g. website is web lokacija, not vebsajt; so this cannot be ‘’general rule’’, the dictionary or websites such as Microsoft’s term search should be used.
Proper nouns, if using Bosnian Latin alphabet, are written the way they appear originally (if they come from the script that uses Latin alphabet).
Source text: John Lennon
✘ Džon Lenon
✓ John Lennon
However, if Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet is used, proper nouns are written phonetically, that is the way they are pronounced in Bosnian.
Source text: John Lennon
✘ John Lennon
✘ Džon Lenon
✓ Џон Ленон
4.1. How to use punctuation marks
Comma is used as a separator in decimal numbers, measurements, etc.
Source text: 5.2 kg
✘ 5.2 kg
✓ 5,2 kg
The last comma in the list, before conjunction “i” (and) is omitted. A comma is also omitted before the acronym “itd.” (etc.).
Source text: Replace the bolts, nuts, and washers.
✘ Zamijenite vijke, navrtke, i podloške.
✓ Zamijenite vijke, navrtke i podloške.
Semicolon is used in bulleted or numbered list.
Source text: Perform the following:
* regular maintenance;
* equipment cleaning;
* oil change.
✘ Obavljajte sljedeće:
* redovno održavanje
* čišćenje opreme
* zamjenu ulja
✓ Obavljajte sljedeće:
* redovno održavanje;
* čišćenje opreme;
* zamjenu ulja.
Colon is used before listings, citations and explanations. It is followed by a small letter and a whitespace.
Source text: Warning: Do not touch hot pipes.
✘ Upozorenje: Nemojte dodirivati vrele cijevi.
✘ Upozorenje:nemojte dodirivati vrele cijevi.
✓ Upozorenje: nemojte dodirivati vrele cijevi.
A hyphen is used when connecting two words into a compound/derivative, when breaking and transferring parts of words into another line of text and in names written with a hyphen. It is written without white spaces.
Source text: Yesterday, a 75-year-old man ran the marathon.
✘ Jučer je jedan 75 godišnjak istrčao maraton.
✓ Jučer je jedan 75-godišnjak istrčao maraton.
En dash and Em dash
The En dash is shorter, and the Em dash is longer. The shorter En dash (–) is used to mark ranges. The longer Em dash (—) is used to separate extra information or mark a break in a sentence. It has whitespaces on both sides. Also, Em dash is used with the meaning “to” in phrases.
Source text: Do exercise 1–5.
✘ Uradite vježbanja 1 – 5.
✘ Uradite vježbanja od 1–5.
✓ Uradite vježbanja 1–5.
Source text: An accident happened on Sarajevo-Banja Luka road.
✘ Dogodila se nezgoda na putu Sarajevo-Banja Luka.
✓ Dogodila se nezgoda na putu Sarajevo – Banja Luka.
4.2. Punctuation in greetings and closings
After a greeting in an email which ends with a comma, the first line should start with a capital letter.
Source text: Dear Mrs Ivanovic,
Thank you for your prompt reply.
✘ Poštovana gospođo Ivanović,
zahvaljujem vam na brzom odgovoru.
✘ Poštovana gospođo Ivanović
Zahvaljujem vam na brzom odgovoru.
✓ Poštovana gospođo Ivanović,
Zahvaljujem vam na brzom odgovoru.
Register refers to the level of formality used in the text. It shows how our clients address their customers and contributes to the voice of the brand itself. Register may vary depending on the company, the brand, the service they offer, the customers, and the target language.
Register is divided into formal and informal, as shown below.
5.1. Formal register
Use of “please”
In Bosnian, unlike the frequent use of it in English and other languages, “please” is never translated in instructions. Only the imperative is translated.
Source text: Please, read the instructions carefully.
✘ Molim vas, pažljivo pročitajte uputstva.
✓ Pažljivo pročitajte uputstva.
Personal pronouns and possessive adjectives
The strict formal register (using the 2nd person plural with the pronoun “Vi” and possessive pronoun “Vaš” written in capital letters) is used only when addressing one particular person in a formal tone. When addressing the general public, users and readers, the formal register is also expressed with the 2nd person plural pronoun/possessive pronoun “ vi”/”vaš”, but written in small letters.
Source text: Dear Mirjana, I read Your letter of complaint.
✘ Poštovana Mirjana, pročitala sam vaše pismo žalbe.
✓ Poštovana Mirjana, pročitala sam Vaše pismo žalbe.
Source text: Dear colleagues, thank you for your effort.
✘ Poštovane kolege, hvala Vam na trudu.
✓ Poštovane kolege, hvala vam na trudu.
|Category||Examples||Type of Register|
|Personal pronouns||Vi (singular), vi (plural)||Grammatical|
|Verbs (person used to conjugate the verb)||Second person plural||Grammatical|
Vaš (singular), vaš (plural)
Poštovani gospodine, / Poštovana gospođo,
Poštovani, / Poštovana,
5.2. Informal register
|Category||Examples||Type of Register|
|Verbs (person used to conjugate the verb)||Second person singular||Grammatical|
Dragi / Draga (male/female form)
6. Localization challenges
Most of these challenges refer to unique entities, such as persons, places, organizations, brands... or the specific format of dates, addresses and so on. Languages may adopt different rules regarding whether those units should be translated, reformatted or kept as in the original language. When editing a text, you should follow your language's rules for all different types of units listed below. However, please note that if there is a glossary provided by the client that includes some of them, you should always apply the glossary items.
6.1. Personal names
Names are not translated, but left in original form if using Latin alphabet in translations and if the language the name comes from uses Latin alphabet.
If the name comes from an alphabet other than Latin, it is phonetically transcribed in Bosnian (if using Latin alphabet in writing).
If using Cyrillic alphabet, names are phonetically transcribed.
Source text: My favorite singer is Paul McCartney.
✘ Omiljeni pjevač mi je Pol Makartni.
✓ Omiljeni pjevač mi je Paul McCartney.
Source text: My favorite writer is Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.
✘ Omiljeni pisac mi je Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.
✓ Omiljeni pisac mi je Lav Nikolajevič Tolstoj.
Source text: My favorite singer is Paul McCartney.
✘Омиљени пјевач ми је Паул МцЦартнеѕ.
✘Омиљени пјевач ми је Paul McCartney.
✓ Омиљени пјевач ми је Пол Макартни.
6.2. Organizations, brands and products
Names of companies, brands and/or products are usually left in English, unless specified otherwise.
Source text: They got the latest Nokia mobile phone.
✘ Dobili su najnoviji Nokijin mobilni telefon.
✓ Dobili su najnoviji mobilni telefon kompanije Nokia.
6.3. Acronyms and abbreviations
Technical abbreviations and acronyms should be left in their original form, with a translation and explanation in parenthesis. Avoid declining the acronyms as much as possible and try to use modifiers.
Source text: My phone has RAM of 256 GB.
✘Moj telefon ima ram memoriju od 256 GB.
✓ Moj telefon ima RAM memoriju od 256 GB.
6.4. Software lexicon and expressions
English forms often don't distinguish between various uses of verbs in software content (such as a command, function name, or the description of an ongoing process). Try to find out what is the ultimate purpose of the translated string, and edit accordingly. For commands and menu items, use the personal imperative form (second-person singular) only when it’s a direct software command. Otherwise, if it's an indirect command, followed by an ellipsis "…", use nouns, verbal nouns, or impersonal forms. Interactive commands, where the user participates in their execution, are also translated with the use of nouns or verbal nouns.
Source text: Turn off your computer after you install the program.
✘Isključivanje računara nakon instaliranja programa.
✓ Isključi računar nakon što instaliraš program.
Source text: Login
6.5. Numeric expressions
Regarding numeral formats (written in numbers or words), you should always respect the source text. If they are written as digits in the source text, this should be maintained in the translation; on the other hand, if they are written as words, they should be translated as such to the target language.
English uses a period to indicate the decimal place, but Bosnian uses a comma.
Source text: His final score was 8.54.
✘Njegov je krajnji rezultat bio 8.54.
✓ Njegov je krajnji rezultat bio 8,54.
6.6. Time expressions
Bosnian uses a 24 hour format. The format can be hh.mm or hh:mm. The format can be followed by a whitespace and the unit hour (h).
Source text: We’ll meet at 4 PM.
✘ Sastat ćemo se u 4 sata.
✓ Sastat ćemo se u 16:00 sati.
6.7. Date expressions
The Bosnian format for date is dd. mm. yyyy., with whitespaces after periods.
Source text: The meeting is on 23/12/2022.
✘ Sastanak je 23.12.2022.
✓ Sastanak je 23. 12. 2022.
The currency symbol follows the currency value with a whitespace between the currency value and the currency symbol (€, $, £, etc.). The same is true for currency initials (KM, HRK, USD, GBP, RUB, INR, DKK, NOK, etc.).
Source text: € 500
✘ € 500
✓ 500 €
Abbreviated forms of units of measure are written with small letters, without full stop (cm, km; kg, l…). Number is separated from the abbreviated form of the unit of measure with a whitespace.
Source text: 20 cm
✓ 20 cm
7. Tricky cases & most frequent errors
Terms like e-mail, tweet, Twitter, Facebook, web-site etc. are English loanwords used in Bosnian language, and they need to be transcribed: imejl/mejl, tvit, tviter, fejsbuk, veb-sajt. Only when referring to companies Facebook and Twitter, English forms are obtained or transcribed with a capital letter.
- Even though using the verb kontaktirati with the accusative case (kontaktirati nekoga) is a common mistake, this verb only takes the instrumental case (kontaktirati s nekim). Where possible, this verb can be replaced with a synonymous verb obratiti se (nekom).
- The possessive pronoun svoj means ‘one’s own’, and it is used when the object it describes belongs to the subject of the sentence or clause. It must not be confused with vaš (yours).
- It is more accurate and according to the genius of Bosnian language to use “u vezi s(a)” instead of “povezano s(a)” or “vezano za”.
8. Useful online resources
1. Pravopis bosanskog jezika, Senahid Halilović, 1996. Sarajevo
2. Gramatika bosanskoga jezika, Dževad Jahić, Senahid Halilović, Ismail Palić