In 2009, the international bank HSBC had to shell out $10,000,000 to repair the damage caused by a strapline that was lost in translation in various countries (9 Little Translation Mistakes That Caused Big Problems). ‘Assume Nothing’ was wrongly translated into ‘Do Nothing’, and unfortunately, this forced them to choose between modifying their business model to fit that phrase or paying that costly rebranding fee. They went with the practical choice, but it still burnt a hole in their corporate pocket.

Such mistranslation stories can cause some people to break out in a cold sweat. One wrong word and you could have your company flooded with red statistics, or your professional profile stained horribly. That is why you should always look for an expert to handle your documents in need of translation.

You may be taken aback by high quotes for a translation service, or do not know which provider you are most comfortable to work with. But are you willing to display mistakes like this?

No, the celebrated inventor does not have problems with grammar. This is most likely the fault of an inexperienced translator or Google Translate. If you want to avoid these mistakes, don’t be afraid to make a small investment in good and professional translation. Read on to find out which factors should affect your decision in choosing a service provider and how to compare their quotes.

Translation, Editing, and Proofreading

Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, even the most experienced translators. It’s advisable to pay extra to have the translation edited and proofread by a second linguist to make sure any mistranslations or stylistic issues are corrected before you publish the translation.

Complexity/Specialism of the subject matter

You should be sensitive about the the translator’s expertise in different industries since there may be unfamiliar jargon that could be misinterpreted. You would want your legal or medical content to be translated by someone with the right background as the documents tend to be highly technical and small details make a big difference. To be on the safe side, it is advisable for clients and translators to have an agreed glossary for key terms, especially those with synonyms in the target language.

Reproduction of the layout: Formatting and/or DTP

Layout and formatting are often disrupted during the translation process, and translations may need to be entered into more complex formats and artwork files by a specialist. Particular care needs to be taken with complex scripts such as Chinese, Arabic, or Thai.

Quality Assurance Stages

You’d want your provider to go through certain processes in the course of production to get the quality you need before having it delivered to you:

  • Project scoping – In this phase, the project manager will compute the time needed to finish the project as well as the quote.
  • File Preparation – If the source file is in a format that cannot be edited by the translator, the text must be extracted into a translatable format.
  • Glossary Development – This is especially valuable if your project needs multiple translators in order to be finished within a tight timeframe. A unified glossary of terms would ensure that the terminology is consistent, even if there are several translators working on different sections.
  • Translation – The project manager selects the most qualified individuals from the pool of translators to start working on the documents.
  • Editing and Proofing – Translations should always undergo review by a similarly experienced professional to make sure that the quality is up to par.
  • Translator Review – After the initial review by the editor, the amended translation is given back to the original translator who has the option to accept or reject suggested changes prior to formatting.
  • Formatting – The translation team then hands the document over to the desktop publishing team to follow the formatting of the source material, minding the nuances of the target audience’s culture.
  • Proofreading – A functional proof will be completed to ensure that the layout of the source and the translated material match, the correct fonts are used, names are spelled correctly and the text flows correctly throughout the document. The linguistic proof makes sure the final document is flawless linguistically, and logical to a reader of the target language.

Included Rounds of Amends

Having a professional to work on your documents lessens the need for subsequent proofreading and editing on the client side, resulting in lower overall project costs. It is not unusual, however, for the original document to be amended after the translation is completed and it is often most cost effective to build expected rounds of updates into the initial translation quote.

Use of Translation Memories and Related Discounts

Ask about the use of technology in the translation process. Computer-aided translation with a well-defined Translation Memory could lead to better productivity for the human translator, and also increases consistency of terminology used in the document.

Quality Standards

Your files should only be touched by people certified to a certain standard. For the translation industry, the European standard EN 15038 stipulates best practice for all aspects of the production process, including interactions between the client and the service provider with regard to the project specifications.

Information Security

Information security management is an important issue with translation, as the translator may be handling confidential information. Credible providers will be happy to share their information policies and procedures.

Standard Turnaround Times and Rush Fee

Turnaround times (TAT) differ for each project and there may be rush fees applied to ensure shorter TAT. This should be discussed with the translation service provider early on to ensure there are no surprises if your schedule changes unexpectedly.

Choose Wisely

The adage applies for translation services. Before partnering with a provider, you should investigate their reputation, track record and processes so you can be assured that your project is in good hands. If you’re tempted to go with the lowest bidder you’ll find Google Translate extremely competitive!

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