The Best Translation Strategies Involve Trust
When you hire a certified professional translator, you’re hiring someone whose credentialing ensures that they are going to do their best, and that they have the skills to do this.
But, developing and investing in the relationship is a key part of a successful translation experience. As Nataly Kelly notes on the Huffington Post, translators “We labor in obscurity.”
She also goes on to say
“Most translators are not looking for glory. They don’t expect to see their names in lights, or on the cover of a book. They simply want the ability to do the best job they can.”
That’s true. And the key to making sure you get the best job they can provide is to start early with good, solid communication. If there are mistakes, tell them. If there is something awesome that you are glad to see, tell them that as well. Most translators work with translation memory tools, and so they will take note of your preferences and make sure future jobs are done the way you want.
Nataly Kelly also notes that one client she interviewed for research into translation quality found that she could always tell when her regular translator went on vacation, because the quality went down. That translator relationship is one you want to develop over time and keep for the long-term.
2. Hire from an Agency That Values Their Translators
How can you find out if the agency you are interested in hiring values their translators? Log in to translator communities and find out what’s being said by the translators about the agency you are considering. A couple to consider include Proz, a complete set of tools for the language professional and Translators Cafe, a directory of translators, interpreters and translation agencies.
In general, though, you can also listen to how the agency talks about their translators. It’s an important part of the quality equation.
3. Put Your Translation Agreement in Writing
Make sure that you spell out exactly what your purpose is for the translation you need. Who are you writing for? What are their expectations? Have your agreement in writing, so that both parties understand what is involved. And, of course, refer back to that agreement during the process so that both of you can stay on track.
Here is a sample template from the American Translators Association that you can use as a guide for your agreement.
4. Be Clear about Your Purpose
What kind of writing are you looking for? Is this piece informative, persuasive or technical? Is it meant to be a literal translation (not usually the case) or more based on the meaning? Is this going to be commercial or academic? Will you be adding to existing content? If you are, make sure that the translator has access to what’s already been done, so they can match lexicons and style. Who is your intended audience? Do you know approximately what reading level they will expect? All of this information is extremely helpful to the translator, and can help you achieve a better match in terms of expectations.
5. Prepare Your Translation
This is one that many don’t consider, but make sure that the document you want translated is absolutely perfect. Make sure that the language is clear, that the document is easily legible, and that it is completely mistake-free. This is something that you can spend a small amount of time on in-house before beginning your project, but which will reap many benefits for you during the translation process. Take the time to go over the document before you hand it over to the translator.
6. Be Patient with Your Translator
Always keep communication open, but also remember that a rushed job is not going to give you the same level of quality as a slower-paced one. Certainly, it’s possible, but to do their best, a translator should not feel rushed. Plan ahead so that this is not a problem for your project.
7. Check out This Great Publication
The American Translators Association actually puts out a periodical just for translation clients. It’s worthwhile to check it out and read through it for great, up-to-date articles on how to get the best translation.
So there you have it. A great start to a great translation.
Are there any other tips you would like to share? Things that you have noticed have worked for you in the past, or things you wish you had known before you started your translation project?