HOW TO GET HIGH-QUALITY TRANSLATION IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE TARGET LANGUAGE

The quality of translation is not an empty phrase. Imagine that you need a legal translation — correct translation of a contract will prevent possible disputes, while bad translation may lead to million-dollar losses just because of a small translation mistake!

For instance, in the US English, decimal points are used to separate whole numbers from decimals, and commas are used to separate thousands, while in the Russian language decimals are separated from whole numbers by commas and thousands, as a rule, are separated by spaces.

This is just a simple example, but there are many hidden reefs in the process of translation due to the cultural and linguistic differences between the languages.

I understand how hard it can be for the clients, who don’t know the target language, to place confidence in a translation service provider and order translation.

Therefore, in this article, I would like to share several tips on how to get a high-quality translation, how to select the right translator and check translation quality when translation is done.

How to find a translator?

Due to the considerable amount of information available on the web, searching becomes a labor-intensive process. You can find hundreds of opportunities and offers but it is hard to make a decision.

I have already described how to find the right translator in details in one of my previous posts. Here I just want to mention two main points:

  1. Search for translators who are native speakers of the target language;
  2. Choose translators depending on specialization — good translators always specialize in a particular domain of expertise.

For instance, if you need to translate a technical manual for mining equipment, choose a technical translator with experience in translation of documents for the mining industry.

Google search

First of all, you can simply search by keywords. For instance, if you need English-Russian translation, you can type “Russian translator,” “Russian translation services” or similar search phrase on Google and you will get several offers from translation companies and independent translators.

Depending on a language pair or your location, you can see different results. Why is this option good? It is not simple to reach the first page of Google search results. It takes time and efforts; moreover, Google algorithms rank websites based on over 200 factors that determine website reliability and relevance. So the chances are high that ordering translation services from top 10 websites in Google search you will get a high-quality translation.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn deserves a special place in this list being the most popular social network for professionals. It offers powerful search system to find the right specialist depending on many criteria.

Also, you can quickly distinguish between professional profiles from amateurs’ profiles. Experienced translators, most probably, will have complete profiles with recommendations from their clients and you will be able to see skills and endorsements that can help you to make a decision.

Dedicated Portals

Currently, there are many places on the web to search for translators, from freelance marketplaces to social platforms (Proz, Translators Café, UpWork, etc.). Usually, such, websites offer two main ways to find a translator:

  • Place a job offer and wait for the bids
  • Search for a translator in a directory based on various search criteria

The first option may seem obvious and straightforward, but first appearances can be deceptive, as in the majority of cases you will get thousands of offers from random people who claim to be translators.

The main problem of such portals and websites lies in the fact that few if any of them conduct screening and validation process before registration. This way anyone can register and start working even without experience in translation.

Therefore, it is better to search for the relevant translators using special filters.

What to do before hiring a translator?

Well, you have finally selected two or three translators that seem to be a good fit for your translation project. How can you make sure that they are reliable professionals?

Run a quick search on Google

At the beginning of this post, I recommended searching for translators using Google. But if you chose another option, you can still use Google to learn more about a translator (or a translation agency) of your choice. Use his/her full name to see how a translator appears on Google search.

If it is a fake account, I bet you won’t find much information about this person. On the other hand, you will be able to find a lot of information about a professional translator.

Examine a personal website

Many professional translators run personal websites to showcase language skills and help clients find more information about their experience and specialization. A personal website shows that its owner is a person who keeps up with the time.

Moreover, a personal website is an indication that a translator is a serious entrepreneur who is ready to invest in business and use modern communication tools.

Ask for recommendations

Finally, if testimonials of other clients posted on a translator’s website or LinkedIn profile is not enough for you, you can ask a translator to provide recommendations. It is an ordinary hiring procedure in HR industry, and you can use this method too.

As a rule, a professional translator will be able to provide reference letters or contact details of at least one client who is ready to prove his/her reliability and translation quality.

What to do when translation is completed

As mentioned in the title of this post, clients often don’t know the target language that’s why it’s hard to see if the translated text is of high quality or not. However, if you applied the above principles to search for a translator, I’m sure you will be able to find a real professional who can deliver top-quality translations.

If you still hesitate about the quality, there are several additional ways to check it.

Hire another translator with proofreading skills

One of the valid ways to measure translation quality is to hire another translator who offers proofreading services.

This is important because another linguist will be able not only to find mistakes in the translated text but also to cross-check source and target texts to verify translation conformity. On the other hand, a proofreader without bilingual skills will not be able to check it.

But before you start searching for the second linguist you should know that many independent translators, as well as translation agencies, work in pair with proofreaders to ensure the best results as it is one of the primary translation quality control processes required under ISO 17100:2015 (the latest translation standard).

Ask your translator about the quality control process. For instance, I always inform my clients that I offer three service packages depending on the required quality of work and the purpose of translation.

  • Basics translation package is designed for simple translations — letters, personal documents, certificates, etc. I translate it and proofread it on my own.
  • Standard translation package is a perfect choice for technical and legal texts. I will perform English-Russian translation and the second linguist will take care of proofreading to eliminate typos and similar errors which may occur during translation.
  • Premium translation package is designed for the most important texts that require top precision and language quality, e.g. marketing material for a large international audience or complex scientific research works. This package includes translation, proofreading, and editing by a professional Russian editor.

Find a native speaker to check the translated text

Except for hiring another linguist, you can find a native speaker preferably familiar with the subject matter and ask him/her to read through the text. If the text is clearly understandable and sounds natural, these two factors speak for the quality of transition.

Use back-translation

Back-translation is an additional QC step applied by translators and translation agencies in case of culturally sensitive texts. The process behind this terms is simple but efficient — translator uses the translated text to convert it back to the original language.

Usually, this translator shall not be previously involved in the translation of the text from the source into the target language. This way the client and the first translator can see if the original message was accurately translated.

However, when you attract third parties, you should remember that the language is a complex but flexible communication system where one and the same idea can be reflected using different words, different shapes, and forms in a foreign language.

Moreover, in many cases, cultural differences pose certain limitations on the translators who have to apply different linguist transformations to ensure understanding for the target audience.

You should also know that sometimes cultures create unique linguistic items called lacunas. These are words or notions that exist only in one particular language and have no analogs in other languages. Therefore, translation of culturally specific texts will require significant adaptation.

Of course, professional translators are aware of this nuances and always try to convey the meaning, rather than to translate separate words.

Now using the above pieces of advice, you will be able to find a perfect translator for your translation project and be sure about the quality of outcome.

If you need an English-Russian translation for your website, document of application, you can contact me via a live chat on this site or calculate the cost of your translation instantly using Online Quote form on the home page.

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