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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.
Urdu carries a number of requirements for agreement. Case markers and adjectives agree with their corresponding nouns in several different ways. Verbs can either agree with the subject or object. The agreement is based on different properties like gender, number, tone etc.
You can find common agreement errors below and how to handle them.
Please do not use the accusative case marker with the second and third person pronouns (e.g. “آپ کو”) in situations where the ergative case marker (e.g. “آپ نے”) can serve the purpose. The ergative construction should be avoided in the written format. Refer to the following example:
Source text: You have to press the red button.
✘ آپ کو سرخ بٹن کو دبانا ہے۔
✓ آپ نے سرخ بٹن کو دبانا ہے۔
Similarly, be careful to not use the accusative case marker with possessive pronouns (e.g. “میرے”) when you can use an accusative pronoun, since it is a dialectical variety.
Source text: I have to go to the bathroom.
✘ میرے کو بیت الخلاء جانا ہے۔
✓ مجھے بیت الخلاء جانا ہے۔
Urdu is a gendered language, which means that the language ascribes gender to the nouns, animate or inanimate. The pronouns, adjectives and the verbs must agree with the gender of the noun.
Source text: My car has broken down.
✘ میرا گاڑی خراب ہو گیا ہے۔
✓ میری گاڑی خراب ہو گئی ہے۔
If you are unsure about the gender of a word, try to look up other uses of it online. For text where the subjects are people, use the plural masculine form as a gender-neutral form, unless instructed otherwise.
For situations where it is necessary to put both genders in the translation, plese use the oblique (/) instead of parentheses.
Source text: I understand the above statement.
✘ میں مندرجہ بالا بیان کو سمجھتا(سمجھتی) ہوں۔
✓ میں مندرجہ بالا بیان کو سمجھتا/سمجھتی ہوں۔
There should be honorific verb agreement with honorific pronouns.
Source text: Would you like to cancel?
✘ کیا آپ منسوخ کرنا چاہو گے؟
✓ کیا آپ منسوخ کرنا چاہیں گے؟
Use the third-person honorific form in case of important personalities or people who generally enjoy respect in society.
Source text: Imran Khan was the captain of the world cup winning team in 1992.
✘ عمران خان 1992 میں ورلڈ کپ جیتنے والی ٹیم کا کپتان تھا۔
✓ عمران خان 1992 میں ورلڈ کپ جیتنے والی ٹیم کے کپتان تھے۔
2.1.4. Verb agreement
The verb should be in agreement with the subject or the object in terms of person, gender and number. Action verbs must require care in terms of tense, aspect and mood.
Source: He only drank a glass of milk.
✘ اس نے صرف دودھ کا ایک گلاس پی۔
✓ اس نے صرف دودھ کا ایک گلاس پیا۔
Source: She ran to take shelter from the rain.
✘ وہ بارش سے بچنے کے لیے بھاگے۔
✓ وہ بارش سے بچنے کے لیے بھاگی۔
Source: I am going to find a taxi.
✘ میں ایک ٹیکسی ڈھونڈتے جا رہا ہوں۔
✓ میں ایک ٹیکسی ڈھونڈنے جا رہا ہوں۔
2.2. Passive voice
The voice (passive or active) in the translation should reflect the source as much as possible.
2.3. Transitive verbs
Transitive verbs should be kept in the translated text, unless this leads to constant repetition, impacting fluency.
Orthography in Urdu lacks standardization, however the following guidelines have been gathered from various qualified sources and can provide guidance and consistency if put into use regularly.
Please follow the official dictionary of the Government of Pakistan to confirm spelling. You can find it here.
3.2. Case Markers
Case markers must always be written separately, both with nouns and pronouns.
Source text: Ali has finished the task.
✘ علینے کام ختم کر لیا ہے۔
✓ علی نے کام ختم کر لیا ہے۔
Source text: Her mother is sick.
✘ اسکی والدہ بیمار ہیں۔
✓ اس کی والدہ بیمار ہیں۔
3.3. Compound words
Remember to put a space between words when a phrase is working as a compound word.
Source text: I have finished the documentation.
✘ میں نے دستاویزبندی مکمل کر لی ہے۔
✓ میں نے دستاویز بندی مکمل کر لی ہے۔
Source text: He is a married man.
✘ وہ ایک شادیشدہ شخص ہے۔
✓ وہ ایک شادی شدہ شخص ہے۔
When writing plurals of words, use the word specific plural form, if available, instead of making it plural with ‘وں’ or ‘ے’.
Source text: I am collecting donations.
✘ میں عطیے جمع کر رہا ہوں۔
✓ میں عطیات جمع کر رہا ہوں۔
Source text: Deforestation is hurting the environment.
✘ جنگلوں کی کٹائی ماحول کو نقصان پہنچا رہی ہے۔
✓ جنگلات کی کٹائی ماحول کو نقصان پہنچا رہی ہے۔
When a verb has the same noun form, be mindful to not make the verb plural when the subject is also plural.
Source text: He must respond to our questions.
✘ اسے ہمارے سوالات کے جوابات دینے ہوں گے۔
✓ اسے ہمارے سوالات کے جواب لازمی دینے ہوں گے۔
Please follow the source text in terms of the treatment of numerals. If the source text writes the number in digits, then the translation must also write the numbers in digits. If they are written in words in the source, then the translation must reflect this too.
Use Arabic numerals (0,1,2,3…), and not Urdu (۰, ۱, ۲, ۳…).
Source text: I have been in the hospital for the past 6 days.
✘ میں پچھلے چھ دنوں سے ہسپتال میں ہوں۔
✓ میں پچھلے 6 دنوں سے ہسپتال میں ہوں۔
Source text: Please try again after five minutes.
✘ براہ کرم 5 منٹ کے بعد دوبارہ کوشش کریں۔
✓ براہ کرم پانچ منٹ کے بعد دوبارہ کوشش کریں۔
Symbols in Urdu should reflect the source. Do not use the Urdu version of the percentage sign. There should not be a space between the symbol and any digit accompanying it, unless it is there in the source too.
Source text: 80%
✘ 80 ٪
Source text: 5/10
✘ 5 / 10
The punctuations in Urdu are used in the same way as English, except the Oxford comma, which should not be used in Urdu.
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
The formal register is used in any situation that demands any level of formality, such as administration, professional interaction, official documents, law, etc. You should gauge the level of formality from the source and reflect it in the translation. Below are some guidelines on how to convey a formal register.
Use formal postpositions to convey the formal register. For example, use “کی جانب سے” instead of the ergative “نے”.
Source text: This has been sent by your local representative.
✘ یہ آپ کے مقامی نمائندے نے بھیجا ہے۔
✓ یہ آپ کے مقامی نمائندے کی جانب سے بھیجا گیا ہے۔
The verb should agree with the level of formality of the rest of the sentence.
Greetings should also be formal.
Source text: Hello, hope you are doing well
✘ ہیلو، امید ہے آپ ٹھیک ہوں گے
✓ ہیلو، امید ہے آپ خیریت سے ہوں گے
The choice of translation for “Hello” should be made carefully based on the content of the source. If the source specifically addresses Muslims, then it can be translated as “سلام”, however, since this word has Islamic roots, use the transliterated version, so as not to offend any non-Muslim Urdu speakers.
5.1.3. Politeness Markers
The formal register has more politeness markers than the informal register. The choice of politeness markers should also take the formal register into consideration.
Source text: Thank you!
✘ آپ کی بڑی مہربانی!
✓ آپ کا بہت شکریہ!
Source text: Please,...
✘ مہربانی کر کے…
✓ براہ کرم…
5.2. Informal Register
Translation is generally formal, however, the client may require an informal register in some use cases, such as marketing. It can often reflect spoken language more. However, avoid using any language that might come off as insensitive or offensive.
There are no rules on how to convey the informal register, however it may use the following:
- short sentences;
- first person, second person, and third person;
- passive and active voice.
If the source text makes any kind of word play, do not try to translate it literally. Please replace it with an equivalent expression in the Urdu language. If no equivalent expression can be found, then provide the most accurate translation, while maintaining a playful tone.
The choice of words, including in postpositions as well as the verbs, should convey the mood of the source. Make sure the verb agrees with the informal register.
Source text: Saad stole my watch.
✘ سعد کی جانب سے میری گھڑی چوری کر لی گئی۔
✓ سعد نے میری گھڑی چوری کی۔
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 in the original language. When editing a text, please 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.
There are different rules about how to translate different kinds of names, which range from people to organizations and brands:
People's names should always be transliterated, unless stated otherwise in the client’s instructions. Be sure to check online sources for pronunciation, especially for non-typical names which may stem from languages other than English.
Source text: Martin Scorsese
✘ مارٹن سکورسیس
✓ مارٹن سکورسیزی
If a standard pronunciation is not available, translate it as closely as you can, keeping in mind the conventions of pronunciation in English.
When translating Urdu names into latin script, that may have multiple spellings in Urdu, refer to the most widely used spellings.
If a place name exists in the Urdu language, then it must be used, rather than transliterating. In case there is no Urdu version available, then you should transliterate it according to its accurate pronunciation.
Source text: Greece
Organization names should be transliterated, if not instructed otherwise by the client. Please use local versions of the organization’s name, if officially available.
Source text: UNESCO
Source text: United Nations
✘ یونائیٹڈ نیشنز
✓ اقوام متحدہ
6.1.4. Brands and products
Brand and product names should be transliterated, if not instructed otherwise by the client. Please use local versions of names, if available.
Source text: Toyota Corolla
✘ Toyota Corolla
✓ ٹویوٹا کرولا
6.1.5. Other Entities
The names of other entities should also be transliterated, if not instructed otherwise by the client. Use local versions of names, if available. These may include song, book, and movie titles, etc.
Source text: Toyota Corolla
✘ Toyota Corolla
✓ ٹویوٹا کرولا
6.2. Acronyms and abbreviations
Since acronyms can be pronounced, they should be transliterated like names.
Source text: NATO
If the abbreviation is for a proper noun, then it should be left in English, unless instructed otherwise by the client.
Source text: ISO
✘ آئی ایس او
In case of abbreviations that are not proper nouns, replace them with the translation of their full form.
Source text: Please reply to me ASAP.
✘ براہ کرم مجھے ASAP جواب دیں۔
✘ براہ کرم مجھے اے ایس اے پی جواب دیں۔
✓ براہ کرم مجھے جلد از جلد جواب دیں۔
In case of abbreviations of country names, replace the abbreviation with the country’s name, if it is more concise.
Source text: I am going to the USA.
✘ میں USA کو جا رہی ہوں۔
✓ میں امریکہ کو جا رہی ہوں۔
6.3. Date format
Please use the format dd/mm/yy in Urdu, no matter what format has been used in the source. However, if the month in the source date is in numerals, then write it in numerals and write it in words, if it is in word form in the source.
Source text: 12/31/2023
Source text: May 15, 2023
✘ مئی 15، 2023
✓ 15 مئی 2023
6.4. Time format
There is no direct equivalent of ‘a.m.’ and ‘p.m.’ in Urdu. Instead, indicate the time by accompanying it with a description of the time of the day like “صبح”, “دوپہر”, “شام”, “رات”, etc. Follow the time with the word “بجے” for when the time does not include a description of minutes.
Source text: I will meet you at 5pm.
✘ میں آپ سے 5pm پپر ملوں گا۔
✓ میں آپ سے شام 5 بجے ملوں گا۔
Source text: The shop opens at 9:30am.
✘ دکان 9:30 بجے کھلتی ہے۔
✓ دکان صبح 9:30 پر کھلتی ہے۔
Measurements should reflect the source in their form and unit.
Kilogram - کلوگرام
Feet - فٹ
Liter - لیٹر
If the source uses symbols for currency, then the translation must also have the symbol.
Source text: $5,000
✘ 5,000 ڈالر
If the source uses the name of a currency, it should be transliterated.
Source text: 5,000 dollars
✓ 5,000 ڈالر
If the source uses abbreviation for currency, replace it with the name of the currency.
Source text: USD 5,000
✓ 5,000 ڈالر
6.7. Technical terminology
Follow any glossary provided by the client for technical terminology. If a technical term can be translated into an easily comprehensible, and widely used Urdu version, then translation is preferred. In cases where the translation would require making use of obscure or obsolete words, then transliteration is preferred.
7. Most frequent errors
The errors that are most often are usually related to fluency and accuracy. It is vital to remain consistent across the whole text the use of terminology.
- You should avoid orthographical errors:
- Use the Urdu full stop (۔) instead of the English one (.)
- Do not overuse the comma and,
- Avoid the use of the oxford comma.
- Try to be as idiomatic as possible while staying true to the source. Write in a gender inclusive way wherever possible. Avoid any offensive language.
- It should be kept in mind that Urdu and English have essentially different syntax, therefore you should not try to impose the English structure on the translation. However, it might be necessary to keep the syntax in some cases, where, for example, the first sentence builds up a surprise and delivers in the second clause.
- Please do not translate idioms and proverbs literally, unless there is no equivalent in Urdu and the direct translation accurately portrays the intended meaning.
8. Useful online resources
Urdu Linguistic Software
English verb conjugator
English grammar guide