When translating and recording a script in a new target language for an IVR, there are typically several steps that have to be considered. There are actually two different things that need to occur: (1) The translation of the design into the target language / culture and (2) the recording of these prompts by a voice talent who is a native speaker of the target language.

If you do not have these skills in house (which is common), you must begin by selecting a vendor. Although many voice talent studios provide both translation and recording, if it is possible, it would be best to ensure that you use two different vendors for these tasks, or at the least, ensure that two different people are used for translation and recording. This will add another check to the translation process.

It is important to provide notes to both the translator and the recorder - typically, these are detailed descriptions of special terms, such as industry jargon, acronyms, unusual words, etc. You should also provide a high-level overview of the design, including its purpose and the target audience who will be using the system. Giving the translator and voice talent as much input as possible during the process is important. And, you should engage them as much as possible. Try to make sure there is an open dialog so that the eventual translation and recording will be as clear as it can be to the caller. For example, ask them to come back to you with any questions they may have, and have a conversation about how you want the design to come across to the caller.

If at all possible, have an internal resource familiar with the business and/or the design to check the translation before it is recorded, and discuss their questions and feedback with the translator, before you proceed to recording.

During the recording process, be on the line with the voice talent if at all possible, to be available to answer questions. If it is possible, the translator and/or the internal resource should be on the line during the recording session as well.

Some things that may require special attention during the translation and recording process include:
  • System messages (such as numbers, currency, time of day, etc.) which may be assembled differently than English
  • Chunks of sentences which may need to be put together in a different way in the target language
  • Plurals
  • Articles (e.g., English has the neutral "the" -- Spanish has male gender "el" and female gender "la")
  • Proper names, acronyms, and special business terms