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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.
2.1. Sentence form
Passive sentence is generally not used in Korean, it is only used to translate certain texts from English to Korean, unless the translated sentence does not make sense as an active sentence.
Source text: I was forced to quit my job because of him.
✘ 나는 그 사람으로 인해 직장을 그만두게 되었다.
✓ 나는 그 사람 때문에 직장을 그만두게 되었다.
Postpositions (or particles) comes right after the noun or pronoun as a short word. Postpositions play two very important roles in Korean:
- to indicate the role of a word in a sentence, i.e. it enables a word to have grammatical relations to other words in sentence;
- to add special meaning to nouns and pronouns.
Note that it is common to see errors with postpositions in polite register. This is why it is important to be very conscious of which words in a sentence indicate correct polite register.
Source text: If your game is broken, we will exchange it.
✘ 고객님의 게임께서 고장이 나시면 교환해 드립니다.
✓ 고객님의 게임이 고장이 나면 교환해 드립니다.
In many cases, postpositions can be removed, however, it is very important to do this correctly otherwise the meaning of a sentence could change significantly from the original text.
Source text: Cell does not make quality life.
✓ 휴대전화가 삶을 윤택하게 만드는 것이 아니다.
Source text: Cell does not make quality life.
✓ 휴대전화가 삶에서 윤택하게 만드는 것이 아니다.
Source text: Cell does not make quality life.
✓ 휴대전화가 삶에 윤택하게 만드는 것이 아니다.
As you can see in these examples, by changing the postpositions you can indicate different meanings or nuance in the sentences. Postpositions are very important in Korean for writing high quality texts.
Pronouns can be substituted for a noun, such as people, objects, perceptions etc. Pronouns are often removable in Korean sentences. They consist of two groups: one is to substitute words for objects or places; another is to substitute words for a person.
Abbreviations are generally not allowed if you write a formal text, Thus, they should be avoided. Nouns, company names or brand names are kept in English.
3.2. Foreign words
The way to write English words in Korean is 외래표기법. 외래표기법 is significant in order to produce a quality translation of a text. In general, things like brand names should be written as the original English name. If it is necessary to write an English word in Korean, then you should follow the international phonetic alphabet (국제 음성 기호) and 한글대조표. ㅆ, ㅉ, ㄲ, ㅃ, ㄸ should not be used.
Comma (,) and space are used to indicate groups of thousands. It is necessary to write in korean next to in brackets.
Source text: 10,000 won
✓ 10 000원 (일만 원)
✓ 10,000원 (일만 원)
4.1. How to use punctuation marks
This section briefly specifies the rules for the use of the following punctuation marks, with particular focus on the most problematic issues.
In Korean, the comma is used to list units with the same qualifications, to introduce an explanation, to distinguish elements in a text and to insert dependent clauses.
Source text: Snake, crocodile, and frog are reptiles.
✓ 뱀, 악어, 개구리 등은 파충류이다.
Source text: Punctuation is a method of displaying words or phrases using symbols or the like.
✓ 구두법은, 기호 등을 이용하여 단어 또는 구절 등을 표시하는 방법이다.
Source text: Economics and society, physics and chemistry can be selected.
✓ 경제와 사회, 물리와 화학은 선택하여 수강할 수 있다.
Source text: Let's look around the city today and look around the outskirts tomorrow.
✓ 오늘은 시내를 둘러보고, 내일은 외곽을 둘러보자.
- Period: it is used at the end of the sentence.
Source text: I fell asleep at 3 a.m. last night.
✓ 어젯밤 새벽 3시에 잠이 들었다.
- Question mark
It is used in a interrogative sentence.
Source text: Why did you sleep at 3 a.m.?
✓ 왜 새벽 3시에 잤니?
When listing a series of things in a row, use a hyphen between each unit. It is used when serial words are closely related. To write duration, distance and range, hyphens can be used instead of swung dash. In most cases, a comma can be used instead of a hyphen.
Source text: This paper, introduction, main, conclusion, is a coherent and well written.
✓ 이 논문은 서론-본론-결론을 통일성 있게 잘 쓴 글이다.
Source text: A month later, a summit meeting between South Korea and North Korea will be held.
✓ 한 달 후, 남한-북한의 정상회담이 개최될 것이다.
Source text: March 29 – April 2
✓ 3월 29일- 4월 2일
- Quotation marks
There are two types of quotation marks: “ ” 큰 따옴표, ‘ ’ 작은 따옴표.
큰따옴표 is only used when quoting someone else’s words.
작은 따옴표 is used when a quote include other quoted words, or when you want to emphasis the meaning of a word.
Source text: "Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference."
✓ “돈은 유일한 해답은 아니지만, 차이를 만든다.”
Source text: My father gave me advice about my future: “Barack Obama once said that ‘money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.’ It is important that you find something interesting but you should consider financial aspects.”.
✓ 아빠가 말씀하시길, “버락 오바마의 명언 중에 ‘돈은 유일한 해답은 아니지만, 차이를 만든다.’고 했다. 네가 흥미를 일에서 찾는 건 중요하지만 돈을 벌 생각도 했으면 좋겠다.” 하시며 나의 진로에 조언하셨다.
Source text: “Money” is important in life, but it is also important to find “meaning”.
✓ “인생에 ‘돈’도 중요하지만 ‘의미’를 찾는 것도 중요하다.
They are used to add extra information; to write English words next to translated Korean word and to indicate that a removable word.
Source text: Plato (an ancient Greek philosopher) was a disciple of Aristotle.
✓ 플라톤(고대 그리스의 철학자)은 아리스토텔레스의 제자였다.
Source text: The International Police Agency is Interpol.
✓ 국제경찰기구는 인터폴(Interpol)이다.
Source text: When you call another, you should call sir.
✓ 상대방을 부를 때 선생(님) 이라는 말을 덧붙인다.
Note that semicolon and colon are not commonly used in Korean texts. The translator should decide whether the colon or the semicolon is necessary to make the text sound natural.
4.2. Punctuation in greetings and closings
To end a letter or text to someone, date (YYYY,MM,DD) and name should be at the end.
Source text: If you have any inconveniences, please contact us and we will help you immediately.
March 17, 2018
✘ 혹시 불편한 일이 발생할 시에 연락해주시면, 바로 도움을 드리겠습니다.
✓ 혹시 불편한 일이 발생할 시에 연락해주시면, 바로 도움을 드리겠습니다.
2018년 3월 17일
Emma Andersen 드림(또는 올림)
5.1. Grammatical and Lexical Registers
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.
We make a first main distinction between grammatical and lexical register: the first one regards the the use of pronouns and verb person (for the languages to which this morphological feature is applied), while the latter is related to lexical choices, since some words and expressions also have a degree of formality or colloquialism.
There are several degrees of register, as shown below.
5.2. Degrees of register
In Korean, when writing honorific register, it is very important to write as if the reader is above you. Thus, honor your reader. Honorific register should only be used to a person, but in relation to an object or action.
- Degrees of formal and politeness
informal but polite:
a little polite but banmal: hageache (하게체)
impolite and formal:
informal and impolite:
- Greetings: 안녕하세요, 안녕하십니까
Korean has 6 different degrees of register, which can be used in different ways. Depending on the context, a translator should decide which register to use to suit the purpose and mood of the original text best. It is also important to maintain the same register as in the original context/text.
There is an exception to this. Translators often use ‘haeyoche’ with ‘habshoche’ in context. ‘Haeyoche’ is not formal register, however, this register is still polite and friendly, so you can use it in formal letters. It is generally allowed to mix these two registers.
When translating official documents, the recommended register is ‘habshoche’ (the most polite and the most formal register in Korean) and ‘haoche’.
Source text: When using this product, be sure to use the manual. Our company is not responsible for accidents or incidents that occur not in accordance with the manual. (formal)
✓ 이 제품을 사용하실 때에는 반드시 사용서를 사용하십시오. 사용서에 따르지 않고 발생하는 사건 또는 사고에 대해 우리 회사에서는 책임을 지지 않습니다.
When you translate a letter related to a customer, it is better to use ‘haeyoche’ with ‘habshoche’.
Source text: Are there any other inconveniences? If the same problem arises when using our products, please contact us immediately. (informal)
✓ 또 다른 불편한 점들은 없으신가요? 만약 또 같은 문제가 저희 제품을 사용할 때에 발생한다면, 바로 저희 고객 센터에 문의해 주시기 바랍니다.
6. Localization challenges
6.1. Proper nouns
Proper nouns refer to unique entities, such as persons, places, organizations, brands, events, etc. As foreign proper nouns are concerned, languages may adopt different rules regarding whether they should be translated or kept in the original language. When editing a text, you should follow your languages rules for all different types of proper nouns listed below. However, please note that if there is a glossary provided by the client that includes these types of units, you should always apply the glossary items.
The most important thing when translating an English word to Korean, is to follow the loanword orthography of Korean. An exception to this is only when the word already exists in Korean.
All Korean names can be written in English. There is no need to distinguish between women and men in this case. It is important to put nim (님) after the name of the reader you are writing to. Depending on what kind of letter you are writing, you can call them by different titles, e.g. customer or user (in these cases, you still should have nim after).
✘ 김정은 씨
✓ 김정은 님
✓ 김정은 고객님
✓ 김정은 사용자님
✓ 고객님, 사용자님
When translating English to Korean you cannot keep the untranslated name for a place. You need to follow the Korean loanword orthography (외래어 표기법). After translating the place name, you can keep the English word in brackets next to the translated word. If the spelling or pronunciation is very different, it is recommended to go with the pronunciation. Sometimes, place names exist as a different Korean word.
Source text: New York
Source text: Aarhus
Source text: China
✘ 중화 인민 공화국
Names of organizations are often translated to Korean. Organizations should be written as they are pronounced, or they should be in brackets. If the name of an Organization is an abbreviation, the word can be used in the same way in the Korean text.
Source text: NGO
✓ 엔지오 or 비정부기구
Source text: UN
✓ 국제 평화 기구 (UN) or 유엔 국제 평화 기구
Source text: Aarhus university
✘ 아르후스 대학교
6.1.4. Brands and products
Brands and products are mostly translated, however, depending on the context, the original English word can be recommended to use.
Source text: Sony
✓ 소니 or Sony
Source text: Playstation
✓ 플레이스테이션or Playstation
6.1.5. Other entities
Like brands and products, art, events and names of boats are translated to Korean.
Source text: Gustav Klimt, The kiss
✓ 클림트의 키스
Source text: Roskilde Festival
✓ 로스킬데 축제
Source text: Oktoberfest
Source text: Titanic
6.2. Acronyms and initials
Acronyms and initials are translated to Korean. Even if the acronym does not exist in Korean, the word should be translated as it is pronounced.
Source text: aids
Source text: Alzheimer
✓ 알츠하이머 or 치매
6.3. Date format
English uses in general, the format mm/dd/yy. When you write a date in Korean the order should be yy. mm. dd (with a whitespace after the dot).
Source text: 03/15/2018
✘ 15. 03. 18
✓ 2018. 03. 15
6.4. Time format
The Korean time format follows the am/pm format.
Source text: 6 p.m. or 18:00
✓ 오후 6시
Measures should always keep the format of the source text and should never be converted. You should only translate them when they have an equivalent term in your language.
Depending on the object, different measure terms are used.
Source text: 25 cm
✘ 25 센티미터
✓ 25 cm (센티미터)
Source text: 5 ft
✘ 5 피트
✓ 5 ft(피트)
Currency values should be left as they are in the source text. However, the currency should be translated to Korean and have brackets with the currency symbols (€, $, £, etc.) or currency initials (USD, GBP, RUB, INR, DKK, NOK, etc.). Also note that these initials should never be translated as they are a convention accepted worldwide.
Source text: 100 Euro
✘ 100 Euro
✓ 100 유로(€) or 100 유로(EUR)
7. Tricky cases
In Korean many parts of a sentence can be removed. Removing useless parts makes the sentence sound more fluent and natural. However, it is necessary to read the original text very carefully so you don’t remove important information.
Be aware of the purpose/context of the source material. Small mistakes do generally not make the reader feel uncomfortable reading it. The most important thing is to understand the purpose of the original text and translate the context in the right Korean form. It is fine to change the sentence structure, but keep the same mood, perspective and purpose.
8. Most frequent errors
One of the most common errors in translation is the occurrence of a whitespace between letters and words. In Korean, a whitespace is very difficult to get just right. It is necessary to double check this. Another common mistake the use of inadequate words when translating English to Korean.
Source text: Please refer to the manual for the product.
✘ 제품을 사용 할 때에 설명서를 참고해주십시오.
✓ 제품을 사용할 때에 설명서를 참고해 주십시오.
Source text: I have contacted you to resolve this issue.
✘ 이 건에 대한 문제 해결을 위해 연락드렸습니다.
✓ 이 문제에 대한 문제 해결을 위해 연락드렸습니다.
Source text: We contacted you because the amount you paid was incorrect.
✘ 귀하가 결제하신 건이 잘못되었다는 걸 알려드립니다.
✓ 고객님께서 결제하신 금액이 잘못되어 연락드렸습니다.
9. Useful online resources
English verb conjugator
English grammar guide