Thoughts for Translation Clients - Part 1
What’s the best way to find a foreign-language expert?
As a translation client, you employ the services of a translator to appropriately and accurately communicate your message into the local language. In this way, you’re able to maintain business expectations, the same expectations you have when dealing with the native language-speaking population. The question for translation clients is this: ‘What’s the best way to find a foreign-language expert?’ And once you find a professional translator, what should you expect from them? Are there specific questions you need to ask, and what information should you have available to provide your translator?
Don’t Try to Save Money on Translations
Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Many translation clients try to avoid paying for professional work by choosing the cheapest quotation; perhaps they even use a free translation website or use someone they know personally who speaks the language. None of these are ideal options, simply because translation is a craft: the translator must be fluent in two languages, must have excellent grammatical and writing skills, must have a solid knowledge of the subject matter, have access to the right translation tools, and of course they need to be talented as a translator. Good, professional translators are paid according to their skills, which, in effect, means there are no bargain translations.
Machine Translations Have Their Place
Certainly, machine text translations can provide a general idea of the subject matter, but they often produce incorrect text and improper sentence structure. If you’re looking for a top-quality professional translation, then you need to use a professional translator who has industry-specific experience and the relevant academic knowledge. That being said, machine translations serve a great purpose when people are trying to obtain a general idea of what’s being said.
It’s All about the Words!
The words we use are so very important! The first item to consider when pricing a translation project is the number of words to be translated, and the reason for this is straightforward – the more words there are, the longer the translation will take. Therefore, as the client, it’s up to you to do what you can to be succinct. Before translation, edit your copy. Many clients also create modules of text that can be translated once, then stored for later use.
Some Content Takes Longer to Translate
It’s a simple fact that some content is more difficult to translate than others. Translating a standard business letter is one thing, but translating a technical manual for your expensive item of machinery is a different thing altogether. Particularly challenging for translators are display messages in control systems and parts lists. Creative and advertising text require concentration and extensive editing, because what works in one culture may not work at all in another. Translating 1000 words in a non-editable PDF file or 20 PowerPoint slides is not the same as translating the same 1000 words in a Word file: you must expect to pay more for this kind of translation.