SAP Software Translation: An Overview of SAP Translation Style Guide

Welcome to the third blog of our series on SAP software translation. In the two first blogs, we introduced to you a brief summary about SAP, the reasons why SAP software translation is different than any other software translation, as well as the essential tools that you have to be familiar with to handle various SAP-related texts. Now, it is time to have a look on the translation style guide approved by SAP to be used while translating SAP materials.

Part I

What is the purpose of SAP translation style guide?
SAP translation style guide has been tailored specifically to the needs of your audience. It focuses on creating content that satisfies their unique perspective at all levels, ranging from information architecture and output format down to tone of voice and the words you choose at sentence level.
Translate the source text as usual, in a manner that suits your language and culture, and the nature of the products you are translating. If there are special linguistic requirements that are desirable from the perspective of your language, apply them to your translation, noting that you are not expected to replicate the tone and style of source texts in translation under all circumstances.

Part II

How can you apply SAP translation style guide to your translation?
The following are general guidelines that can be applied to all kind of materials where SAP translation style guide can be used. If project-specific guidelines or style guide are provided, they of course should take priority.
Style and tone
General guidelines:

  • Make sure that your text or document does not contain redundancies. Check the text at different levels (sentence, paragraph, chapter).
  • Use correct and consistent terminology.
  • Use positive formulations.
  • Do not put too much information into a single sentence. Split long sentences into shorter sentences.
  • Do not use a long series of nouns that modify one another or a long series of prepositional phrases. Instead, split them up into smaller and more manageable units.
  • Order information according to the logic what before how. This is intended to ensure that users understand the consequences of an action before they perform the action.
Personal/Impersonal Sentence Construction
Please do not use impersonal form as long as the source uses personal form
To restart the system, choose Restart. لإعادة تشغيل النظام، اختر إعادة التشغيل.
  يمكن طلب إعادة تشغيل النظام بواسطة اختيار إعادة التشغيل. x
Impersonal form is used in translating standalone verbs, so avoid the second or third person even if these verbs are inflected in the source. It is impossible to determine the gender of the standalone verb. It can refer to a feminine or masculine noun; use the infinitive form to avoid confusion.
Finances... تمويل....
The singular masculine form of the imperative verb is used when addressing the user directly, as shown in the examples below:
To initiate the password reset process for your Google account, click the link below. لإعادة تعيين كلمة المرور لحساب Google، انقر على الارتباط أدناه.
Active vs. Passive Voice
Use the active voice. The passive voice makes it difficult to determine who is doing what to whom or what.
To use the system, you must install … لاستخدام النظام، يجب عليك تثبيت...
  لاستخدام النظام، يجب أن يُثبت ما يلي...x        
It is recommended to replace the passive form with an impersonal structure, using the gerund form (in Arabic: صيغة المصدر)
Your message was saved. تم حفظ الرسالة.
Your ad was created. تم إنشاء الإعلان.
Word order in sentence
The information in a sentence should be put in a logical and chronological order.
On the screen Create Process Order Confirmation: Initial screen, enter the following data and press Enter في الشاشة إنشاء تأكيد أمر عملية: شاشة التهيئة، أدخل البيانات التالية، ثم اضغط إدخال.
  اضغط إدخال في الشاشة إنشاء تأكيد أمر عملية: شاشة التهيئة وأدخل البيانات التالية. X
Infinitive vs Imperative
Make sure to use an infinitive in the translation of texts that will appear as titles, menus, function buttons, quick info and headers and use imperative in message texts.
Create master record (Title) إنشاء سجل رئيسي √
  قم بإنشاء سجل رئيسي. X
Fill in all required entry fields.(Message) املأ كل حقول الإدخال المطلوبة.
  ملء كل حقول الإدخال المطلوبة. X
Informal forms can only be found in local dialects of Arabic. Since Arabic translations are performed in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), it is advisable to use simplified, neutral expressions that can be understood across the Arab region.  Here is an example:
Browser crash... go boom لقد تعطل المتصفح/لقد طرأ عطل على المتصفح  √
  تعطل المتصفح... يا للأسف   X
On the other hand, avoid addressing the user in an overall formal, stilted way.
A more formal approach is required in documents with legal content, such as The Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, etc.
   Masculine and Feminine Forms
We aim, where applicable, to produce a gender-neutral translation. Therefore, we would recommend a more generic and neutral way of addressing the end-user, as opposed to the singular masculine form. This can be achieved, for instance, by using the gerund form as in the following examples:
English Possible Translation Comment
Must select a… يجب اختيار... The gerund form here ensures a gender-neutral translation
Enter your e-mail and password الرجاء إدخال عنوان البريد الإلكتروني وكلمة المرور The gerund form here ensures a gender-neutral translation
Always follow Arabic punctuation rules.
All separators, periods and spaces should be in Arabic not English forms. This can be done by switching to Arabic mode.
Semicolon is used as a super-comma to separate elements in a sentence of equal rank. It is also used as a soft period between two sentences to depict a closer relation between the two sentences. In such case, the semicolon can be left in the translated sentence (as an Arabic semicolon) or translated as in the following example:
File deleted; fatal error found تم حذف الملف نظرًا لاكتشاف خطأ فادح
-Use the Arabic comma "،" (Shift + ن), not the English comma ","
You cannot go to maintenance. For further information, see long text. لا يمكنك الانتقال إلى الصيانة. لمزيد من المعلومات، راجع النص الطويل.  √
  لا يمكنك الانتقال إلى الصيانة. لمزيد من المعلومات ,راجع النص الطويل. X
When you have a set of values separated in English with commas and “or”/“and”, use Arabic conjunction "و/أو " after every value.
You can use a document, a spreadsheet and a database to create a table. يمكنك استخدام مستند وجدول بيانات وقاعدة بيانات لإنشاء جدول.
  يمكنك استخدام مستند، جدول بيانات، وقاعدة بيانات لإنشاء جدول. X
You can use a document, a spreadsheet or a database to create a table. يمكنك استخدام مستند وجدول بيانات أو قاعدة بيانات لإنشاء جدول.
  يمكنك استخدام مستند، جدول بيانات، أو قاعدة بيانات لإنشاء جدول. X
In Arabic, hyphens aren’t used. For example, "Customer-specific tables", is translated in Arabic without hyphen “جداول خاصة بالعميل”, “Sales-Promotion” is translated without hyphen “ترويج المبيعات
1. Parentheses can be used to insert additional information. (Insertions consolidate or elaborate the main idea of a sentence).
2. Parentheses can be used to introduce users to the following types of terms, or to explain these terms in more detail:
 - Specialist term
 - SAP-specific term
 - Abbreviation, acronym, initialism
Quality Management (QM) إدارة الجودة   (QM)
A period will not be included after the exclamation and question marks. These marks already have the same role of the full stop.
Arabic follows the English source in the following:
  •  If a piece of information in parentheses at the end of a sentence belongs to the sentence, the period should be placed after the closing parenthesis.
  •  If an entire sentence is included in parentheses at the end of a sentence, but does not belong to that sentence, the period should be placed before the closing parenthesis. A period should then also be placed at the end of the preceding sentence.
In Arabic, no space should be left before colon, only one space after.
1. A colon can be used after a sentence to introduce a list.
2. The colon is written directly after the preceding text, even if the source text does otherwise. You can follow the English source text, if you are sure that the alignment on the screen will benefit from it.
Exclamation Mark
Please do not overuse exclamation marks in Arabic.  Exclamation marks are often used in English with words such as “sorry”, “warning”, “important”, etc. Quite often, a comma or colon can be used instead. Below are a few examples:
Warning! These files can harm your computer. تحذير: هذه الملفات قد تلحق الضرر بالكمبيوتر.
Sorry! There was a problem in uploading the image. Please check your image and try again! عذرًا، حدثت مشكلة أثناء تحميل الصورة. يرجى التحقق من الصورة وإعادة المحاولة.
This is an inclusive overview on SAP translation style guide with the most common tips and tricks that are to be applied in translation to deliver a target text tailored to audience needs. The next blog will be the final one in our series, in which we will show you other tips and tricks, but in a different area; Terminology. We are going to talk about the ways to deal with SAP-specific terms and how to maintain them in the dedicated system. So, the invitation is still open for you to follow us in the next blog titled "SAP Software Translation: Tips on SAP Terminology Translation and Maintenance".