Any other content, or previously translated material that translators can use as a reference or style guide, is referred to as reference material by a translator.
When a client approaches a translator, or translation agency, asking for a financial or personal document, technical manual, architectural documents, marketing collateral etc. to be translated, the translator will probably ask for some reference material.
So, What Is Reference Material?
Any other content, or previously translated material that translators can use as a reference or style guide, is referred to as reference material by a translator. Having good reference material ensures that the source document will be translated accurately and, more importantly, it will be translated specifically the way the client requires.
Poor Quality Translations
In this post we’ll discuss the fine line that exists between poor-quality translations and translations that are completed without the use of proper translation tools. There are several variables that determine the outcome of a translation. Generally, the more obvious reason for a poor translation is due to the translator’s lack of knowledge of the language or the specific subject; or even the conceptual idea behind the original text. In this example, remember that the translator is usually a native of the target language, and not the source language.
Translators Must Have Good Translation Tools
The other reason for poor quality translations is when translators are not provided with the right tools, thus turning their job into a guessing game rather than a confident, professional translation. There may be specific terminology that’s preferred, or commonly used, in the company or in the industry. Additionally, it might be that some phrases or terms are more accepted than others depending on the dialect or target audience. Therefore, what can be seen as a translator’s lack of understanding of the content or a lack of their capabilities, is simply the lack of a proper guide, or just their personal preferences.
Reference Material and Glossaries
If a client has a document to be translated, and it’s a technical text which may prove problematic for the translator, there are two simple solutions to rectify the situation so both parties achieve the desired result – a glossary, and/or reference material.
- Reference material refers to any previously translated material that’s similar in style and/or content; and
- A glossary is a detailed list of terms selected by the translation agency or the client. A glossary helps the translator maintain accuracy and consistency during the translation and editing processes. If a client chooses not to offer a glossary, one can be created by the translation agency, or the translator, subject to the client’s approval. It’s true that the creation of a glossary does take extra time which converts into additional costs; however, the payoffs far exceed the outlay, particularly if there are future translation projects.
Obviously, both the translator and the client strive to achieve positive results, as opposed to problems and disagreements. That’s why communication is so very important – it creates transparency between the agencies processes and the client.
There’s a common misconception that when a mistranslation occurs, it’s the result of hiring translators who are lacking in skills or knowledge. This is generally not the case when professional translators are used. Sometimes, even an experienced, professional translator requires a little additional information to accurately complete a translation.