Four Steps on the Road to Success

August 26th, 2014
Four Steps on the Road to Success  | One Hour Translation

A quality translation job requires more than just your talents – there are in fact four steps to a good job that must always be included.

It’s fun, sometimes, to discuss the business of translation services in high-altitude terms – in other words, vaguely, from a high vantage point. But, of course, all work gets done down in the trenches, so to speak, and involves a series of very practical events and actions. Sometimes it’s beneficial to examine the actual brass tacks of how a job gets done, so we can better see how it’s accomplished and consider how our own processes work to our advantage – or disadvantage.

Of course, language translation is a very formal process in many aspects, meaning that a lot of what I’ll be mentioning here is actually quite established – which can be useful in the sense of comparing your own process to the accepted norm. In other words, if you’re not following each of the four following steps in your translation work, you’re doing it wrong.

One: Translation

The meat of the order, as it were, and yet the first one to be performed. Included in here, of course is the research involved, including familiarising yourself with the context of the translation, including cultural and historical aspects, as well as the specific goals of your client and the style and tone of the original text.

Two: Editing

Yes, you should edit your translation. The first effort is simply getting the ideas and language pushed across into the target language – but quality translation involves a lot more than that. It means getting the language right, and making it read well. Even when writing in a native tongue in an informal way, we usually benefit greatly from going back to edit our work. And editing is also the unofficial start of Step Three.

Three: Quality Control

This is, of course, the biggest challenge for sole proprietors and freelancers, because it often involves finding someone to review your work. Some places championing a back-translation process where your finished translation is translated back into the original language, but I don’t think that process actually works very well. Much better to find a trusted and experienced translator to simply review your work, pose some challenging questions, and leave the fixing up to you.

Four: Proofreading

Finally, your work should always be submitted to a professional proofreader prior to being delivered to the client. By this point you have likely seen the work far too much to proofread it effectively – our eyes get lazy, and assumptions you made weeks before when initially working on the project can be blinding later in the game. You need a third party, preferably someone with actual professional experience proofreading translation work.

Taken together, these four steps form the solid foundation of quality translation work. Omit one, and the whole structure is in danger of collapse – and with it, your reputation as a translation pro and your ability to get new work going forward in your career.

Image courtesy recruiter.com