Translation Guide

A quick guide on how to get your translations right

It can be a frustrating process, buying a translation service.

Here in this article we address effective ways in which to buy translation service that won’t cause you stress or cost you the earth.

In a nutshell, a translator will produce a written translation and an interpreter will provide a verbal translation service. So, if for example you have documents that need to be in another language, say a marriage certificate that you need translated into French, or your qualification certificate translated into German in order to study abroad, then you would need to hire a translator. On the other hand, if you need to attend court in another country or converse with someone in a professional environment whose language you don’t speak, then you’d need to hire an interpreter.
When reading through your text, before assigning it to a translation agency, we would advise really looking through the text first and deciding whether any part of it can be shortened or simplified? Sometimes a simpler, more direct approach is more effective. Often times people don’t like to read through lots of texts to get to the bit that is relevant to them. If you are able to produce pictures and/or diagrams instead of large chunks of text, then do it and definitely leave out the jargon! Your translation will look cleaner, more professional and more user-friendly this way.
When using a translation service agency to translate text into another language, be mindful of the fact that some sayings and metaphors simply don’t translate well! Choosing a translation agency who use a native to the target language is highly recommended for this very reason. It’s also best to stay clear of any references to the human body, controversial jokes, politics or any local sayings that may involve awkward wordplay! You don’t want to come away red faced and met with awkward stares or blank faces.
Weighing up the cost of a reasonably priced translation service can be a tricky task. There are many things to consider when you are trying to find the best translation agency: The native language of the translator in question, how many years’ experience the translation agency have? Whether you’re looking for a Multi-Language translation project? (This will undoubtedly cost more), Will the translation need to be proofread? Is the text medical, technical or legal translation? Do you require graphs, tables or a specific layout for your translation? While high prices of translation services don’t always guarantee high quality, going for a translation agency that’s too cheap may land you with a very rushed and amateur translation service in the end. So, try to be realistic – work out how many hours it may take the translator to translate your text, whether you have any other additional requirements and the current standard rate for the target language in question? If it seems like you’re paying a fair price, only then may it be worth going ahead and accepting from the translation agency you have chosen.
Make sure you clarify with your translation agency what kind of writing style you’d like and see if they are able to produce this? We strongly advise using only the service of translation agency with native speakers in your target language for this exact reason. Many translators stick to a more standard approach to writing, so you’ll want to find out what they are capable of doing. Do they know their subject well? Do they specialise in creative writing or technical writing? You’ll want the sentences to flow and run smoothly. Word order and vocabulary choice is especially important and can make all the difference in the delivery, even more so if you’re planning on selling or persuading with your translated text.
Even if you think you’re more than capable. Being able to speak and converse well in another language doesn’t mean you are able to translate to a professional standard. Any text written that hints that it may have been written by a foreigner and not a native will stand out a mile – It will appear sloppy and unprofessional. Don’t be tempted to do it, thinking it will save you time and money and in the long term it will probably cost you both.
There’s nothing worse than having to make constant amendments to a translated text or any text for that matter. It’s often time consuming and extremely frustrating for both parties. If you submit a draft copy to your translation agency, in the hopes that the translated text will be flawless then you’re headed for disappointment. A good translation agency can only be as good as the materials they are given to work with. The cost of doing it this way may also double or even triple due to the constant amendments that’ll be needed.
It may be tempting to use translating software and will often cost much less and, in some instances, may even be free. But if you’re aiming for a high-quality translated piece then it will rarely deliver. Translation software may be useful if you’re strapped for time, but you’ll also run the risk of possibly looking inarticulate. There is always the option of hiring a translation agency to then edit the text, but this process may not save you any money as the time spent copy editing will also come with an hourly rate and the need for professionalism. Algorithms are still trying to improve the quality of automatic translation but have yet to surpass the accuracy and professionalism of human translation.
Communication is key when it comes to specifying exactly what you require from a translation agency. What are you looking to achieve with the translated text? What is the translation going to be used for? All these requirements need to be communicated to the translation agency in question. You’ll get the best results from keeping in regular contact with your translation service provider and outlining your intended audience. You don’t want a technical jargon piece for a catalogue or a legal piece as a sales brochure. Style and delivery are important, and you need to clarify this early on.
It may be tempting to approach foreign language students, but it can be extremely risky. Learning a language isn’t the same as learning the skills you need to be able to effectively translate a document or interpret a conference call for example. It would be similar to expecting a medical student to perform a major operation, without the practice and the know-how the chance of a good outcome is fairly slim.
Being a native of a language has many benefits over someone who may have a degree in or has lived in the country in question for a long period of time – the latter will always have limitations compared to the former. It is always advisable for a translator to keep up to date with the language they are native/ specialists in as even living abroad for a period of time can influence a person’s language skills. To be a truly professional translator means to be completely immersed in their target language. It’s usually a red flag if someone claims to be able to professionally translate into more than one language or to be able to translate both ways – play safe and hire only a translation agency who ‘specialises’ in one language.
Translating into a language is one thing but making sure that the dialect is also correct is another. You wouldn’t translate a text into an American English document if your client was British, and the same goes for many other languages too. Make sure you do your homework and find out who your target audience are, and which dialect of a language is most suitable.
Does your translation agency want to clarify things, always asking questions to get things just right? This is a good sign! If a translation agency is really serious about their work they’ll take pride in what they do and have a sharp attention to detail. This is what you want. If they don’t ask any questions it may be the case that they are just translating into what they think is acceptable rather than going above and beyond.
If your translation project is specialist, such as a medical, legal or technical text and your native translator isn’t a specialist in the specific area in question, you may run into trouble. Unless they are familiar with the terms of your text document, it may become quite a lengthy project for them to complete and not always accurate. Ideally, they will have a background (experience in or qualification in) the area of specialisation that you require – then you can rest assured that they will have the right legal, medical or technical knowledge, dictionaries and reference manuals to press ahead.
Every translated document without exception needs to be proofread – preferably not by the translator themselves – It’s too easy to overlook small spelling and grammar issues in a text you’ve written yourself which is why a third-party proof-reader is needed for your translation. They will also need to be native in the target language.
Make sure you have agreed on which font and glyphs will be used beforehand. Some languages may appear distorted or even nonsensical if the wrong font is used –languages such as Arabic and Chinese characters need to have the correct glyphs in place in order to read smoothly. Also check with your client which they require so that the font matches the tone and layout of the finalised document in question.
Being bilingual has many advantages and can enhance many CV’s, however, if the translator is only ‘Good’ in both languages and hasn’t ‘Specialised’ in either one of those languages they may not be great at moving from one language to another. Also speaking, reading and writing in a second language takes a lot of skill and practice. If one of the languages isn’t their specialisation then it may not be worthwhile hiring that translator.
Check that the translation agency that you use has experience in numerous translation projects in the specific language you require. Are they certified? Let them show you past work they’ve completed. Any large companies they’ve translated for should be clearly displayed on their website along with testimonials.
The larger your translation project or client, the more specialised you need to go. If your translation service is needed for a glossy magazine or legal company, you can’t afford to cut corners. This is where a good translation agency comes in. If you’re looking to also expand your business and translate into a number of different la gauges, a good translation agency should have translators from all over the world on their books. Look for a translation agency with a large database of translators and language options, awards and certifications.
Lingo Service is one such company and we have a huge database of native professional translators. We pride ourselves on our fast turn-around times and sharp attention to detail. We have provided translation and interpreting services to some of the biggest brands and businesses in the UK and abroad and all our translations are fully certified and notarised if needed. Just take a look at our certifications and testimonials on our website. Why not give us a call today for a free, no obligation quote and see how we can help you and your business to get ahead.