I constantly get asked by prospective clients “why should I have to pay more for someone to check over your translation?” Even I questioned this when I first started working here at Webcertain, but now I appreciate just how important is to ensure that you have good content and great translations!
We’re all human!
We’ve all fallen victim to spelling mistakes, bad use of punctuation and grammar in our own written work at some point. I know I have! There’s nothing worse than checking and double checking your own work and then realising that there are still errors which you missed. It’s almost embarrassing! Recently a friend told me that she’d written an email to her manager which she had reviewed several times to ensure that there were no mistakes. It wasn’t until she hit the send button that she realised she had addressed the email “Dear Saliva” instead of “Dear Sylvia”. Oops!
I completely understand why businesses might question why they should dedicate more time and money to reviewing translations, and my response is often to ask the client how many people reviewed the source document that they have sent to us for translation. It is likely that there have been several revisions of the source text, as well as reworking of the copy to make it suitable for the intended target reader. The same goes when it comes to translation.
Here are a few suggestions from my experience which will help when working with translation agencies in order to produce the best content possible.
It is essential that the source text you send off for translation is the final, signed off version and that there are no errors or inconsistencies which could affect the overall translation you receive. As I said before, it is important to have a fresh set of eyes look over your copy – after all, it is vital that you produce high quality content before even approaching a translation agency.
When branching out into new international markets it is important that you don’t rush it. There is nothing worse than approaching a translation agency with an unrealistic time frame in mind. This potentially puts extra pressure on the agency and translators that you are working with, and could result in mediocre translations.
Taking the time to prepare a detailed style guide explaining how you would like your company to be represented, and the style of writing that should be used, will ensure that the translations incorporate your company’s requirements. A glossary of terminology will also be beneficial at this stage and most translation agencies will work with you to prepare such documentation.
If possible, ask your agency for samples in order to approve specific translators based on their writing style, experience and suitability to your project. This will allow you to find translators that you, as the customer, are happy with.
When I ask prospective clients about their need for review services, I often get the feeling that they think that no validation checks are being conducted at all. Of course translators carry out a review of their own work, just like we all would. Thorough self-review at this stage also allows the translator to compare the source text to their own translation, followed by a fresh look over the translation as an independent text to be sure that it stands alone in the target language.
Let’s be honest for a minute – even the best, most experienced translators can produce errors. They are human after all and mistakes can happen – in any language!
The most efficient way to avoid situations where errors occur is to make the most of services like a Linguistic and Contextual Review (also known as “Editing” or “Proofreading” depending on the source). Some translation agencies will provide such services separately, highlighting them as optional, whilst others incorporate them directly into the translation workflow and overall cost of the project. So don’t be surprised if you are asked about a review when enquiring about translation services.
The use of a third party independent reviewer as a fresh set of eyes sees focus on both the lexical and contextual aspects of the translated text by reviewing the following: spelling and grammatical mistakes, mistranslations and issues with overall style. Reviewers are often senior translators who are extremely experienced in the field and are able to provide constructive feedback for the original translator, whilst following a set of guidelines to help them in their checks.
My best advice is to make the most of your in-house resources if available. Should your team comprise of native speakers of the languages you are planning to translate into, then it would be beneficial to incorporate them into the translation workflow from the very beginning. Your in-house native speakers are extremely valuable in that they have an extensive knowledge of your company and your expectations, as well as having a command of the languages you require.
Should you choose not to make use of an additional Linguistic and Contextual Review service then I would suggest that you ask your in-house colleagues to proofread the content instead.
At the end of the day it can be a risky decision when companies say that they don’t want their translations reviewing. Follow my advice above and take the time to get things right from the word go. There’s no point rushing anything, especially when you’re investing a lot of money. Work closely with your translation agency, engage your in-house teams, and make the most of the review services on offer and you’ll end up with great multilingual content.
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