Translators very often claim that they provide top quality translations. Yet, the way they do it and methods they use is a mystery. Are translators simply walking dictionaries, or perhaps they use some tricks to achieve perfection? This post should answer some of your questions and doubts as to what the translation process involves.
Translators always strive to assure that quality is built into the translation as early as possible in the translation process. What is more, they also seek for transparency and continuous improvement in their translation quality assurance by giving their clients an opportunity to participate in the process and by obtaining regular feedback. There are a few stages, which - if strictly observed - should guarantee a well-crafted translation. This is what you should expect from a good translator.
What needs to be initially established is the essential information, i.e. the purpose of translation, target audience / readership, target format and target dialect. At this stage, you might expect requests for further information or questions, especially if there is a need to clarify any issues like inconsistencies or missing text. Don’t be tempted to think that if a translator asks you for clarification or anything else for that matter, it means they have no idea what they are doing, on the contrary, it only means that they care about this project and want to make sure that you will receive the best translation possible.
Tip for you: the more information and detailed instructions you give, the more tailored translation you will get.
It is a common practice among translators to read specialist literature in a given field before they start working on the project. This allows them to freshen up and expand their knowledge and ensures proper use of specialist terminology inherent to the subject matter of the text.
Many translators have a number of terminology resources in place that facilitate the process of translation and assure consistent use of specialist terminology throughout the project. These resources comprise mostly of subject related glossaries and dictionaries that translators will refer to while working on the translation. In case of legal translation, for example, an excellent resource are acts and codes where translators can find the right terms that are used in a given area of law.
Tip for you: if you have any glossaries or other resources with terminology that you use internally in your company, share this with the translator. This will prevent any terminological inconsistencies with what your employees, business partners or clients are used to.
After at least one reading of the whole document, some translators get to grips with more complex terms first and note down possible equivalents, while others dive straight into translation. During the translation process, the most important procedure is to derive meaning from the source text and transfer it into the target text. Needless to say, this process does not involve translating the original text word-for-word but idea-for-idea. Therefore, the task translators have to face is to maintain the meaning and function of the source text, even if they use different sentence constructions or grammatical forms.
Tip for you: be prepared for some further questions at this stage. Good translators are able to notice even the tiniest linguistic or factual nuances that they would want to clarify or confirm. Again, this is all for your benefit, so be prepared to make some inquiries if needed.
For texts of specialised content, translators rely on original resources on a particular subject matter, such as specialist literature, to ensure correct and consistent usage of industry-specific terminology. This is also where translators’ expertise kicks in: if they specialise in a given area, they will have broader and more thorough understanding of the concepts denoted by the terms they are translating. Specialisations are of significant importance in the translation industry. To find out why, take a look at the series of blog posts hosted by Speech Marks Translation http://speechmarkstranslation.com/category/specialisation-series/ .
Tip for you: make sure you hire a translator who has some solid background in the area they are translating in. A degree or practical experience in a given field are the strongest indicators that a translator is well prepared for the job.
It is no secret that technology plays a huge part in many types of services rendered by professionals. Translation is no different here. Translation memories and CAT ( Computer Assisted Translation) tools are commonly used by the majority and ensure both efficiency and better quality management.
Tip for you: CAT tools do not serve to produce automated translation, they are simply specialised software providing functions to increase productivity, manage terminology and facilitate handling high-volume projects.
In order to provide utmost professional quality, the target text (translated text) is compared with the source text (original text) in order to identify and correct any errors such as inaccuracies, wrong style or terminology. At this stage, editors also check the overall composition, cohesion and readability of the target text.
This phase requires meticulous review of the target text in order to find and correct all the grammar and spelling errors or incorrect punctuation. It is also essential that the formatting of the translated document matches: paragraphs are separated, numbering of each section is the same, fragments are in bold or underlined etc. Ideally, it should be done by a different person. Proofreading constitutes the final stage of the translation process and upon its completion, the translated text is ready to be delivered to the client.
Tip for you: if you do not need the translation as soon as possible, give the translator an extra day to proofread the translation. It is recommended to give the translation a one day “rest” and review it on the following day – this makes the proofreading process more effective.
Only a full and proper completion of all of the stages guarantees a top quality translation.
I hope this article has answered your questions about how translators assure quality in their work. After all, this is what you pay for, so you have a full right to expect transparency and even participation in the processes involved.
If you still have any questions or need more details about any of the stages mentioned, feel free to ask them in the comment section or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org