Let’s say you’re planning to get some materials translated. You’re prepared to pay for professional translation services, because you understand the benefits. You’ve even found a language service company (LSC) that you trust, and you’re ready to get a quote.
However, you’re still hesitant, because you want to know with 100% certainty that you’ve received a quality translation, but you don’t personally speak the languages your content is being translated into.
How do you know the translations will be good quality?
Here’s how you can ensure your quality expectations are met.
Work as a Team
Getting quality translations is a team effort.
Your team should be made up of the following parties:
Your translation vendor and linguistic team.
Your internal reviewers (this one is optional).
Now that your team is in place, here are the ways teamwork will help you get quality translations.
What You Can Do
You may be wondering how you can aid in the translation process, when you don’t even speak the languages in question.
Well, your role is actually in the preparation – what you send your translation vendor can set them up for success. Alternatively, if you do not prepare, your translation vendor may be fighting an uphill battle.
So what can you do?
Spell-check and proofread the source file.
Make sure it is actually the final version before you send it to your translation vendor!
Allow white space for text expansion.
Different languages take different amounts of space to say the same thing. Spanish, for example, takes 25% more space when compared to English. Whereas Chinese actually takes less space than English.
When in doubt, extra white space is your friend. If you jam every inch of the page with English text, your translation vendor will have no room to maneuver, and the translations may end up too small to read!
Eliminate extra spaces and unnecessary line-breaks.
Any qualified translation vendor will use a translation memory (TM) software program to aid with the translation process and ensure consistency in translation. These TM tools break the text into segments for translation (words, phrases, sentences, etc.).
If a line break is inserted in the middle of a sentence, that sentence will become two incomplete segments in the TM program. This can create confusion during the translation process.
Write the source file using the tone, formality, and reading level you would like your translations delivered in.
In the absence of special instructions, the translators will take their style cues from the source document. If it is written informally in English, the translators will mirror that in their translation. If you want the translations done differently than the original English document, you may need to provide special instructions.
Provide specific instructions about any expectations you have for the final product.
These instructions can include anything from export settings for print-ready PDFs, to reading levels, to fonts, etc.
Provide a glossary and style guide.
If you have translations done regularly, consider developing a glossary and style guide for your translation vendor to use. Glossaries can be monolingual (terms + definitions) to help the linguists with understanding industry-specific terms, or they can be bilingual (English term + translated term) so your linguistic team knows what your preferred translations are for specific terminology.
A style guide can help your linguistic team understand how to handle things like measurements, addresses, department names and other items in the translations.
Let your vendor know who to contact with questions.
And make sure that person is available for the duration of the project in the event that questions arise.
What Your Translation Vendor & Linguistic Team Should Do
You know that you want your translation vendor and translators to be thorough.
But if you’re unfamiliar with the translation process, you may not know what “thorough” means!
What can you expect?
In order to ensure compatibility with their translation memory software and compliance with your expectations, the translation vendor will check and prepare the file before sending it to the linguistic team.
Detailed project instructions.
Project instructions will be compiled and organized before being provided to the linguistic team. They should understand clearly what the expectations are prior to the project launch.
Translation, Editing & Proofreading (TEP).
Translations are translated, edited and proofread by a team of at least two native speakers.
Translation memory (TM).
A TM software program is used to help maintain consistency in the translations.
Typesetting/Desktop Publishing (DTP).
The typesetting portion is performed by a design team experienced in multilingual DTP. Formatting of the translations will match the original source file as closely as possible.
The typeset files are returned to the linguistic team and a quality assurance review is performed by a native speaker.
In-house Quality Assurance (QA).
The translation vendor will perform a final in-house QA review, checking that nothing is missing, and the formatting matches.
What Your Internal Reviewers Should Do
After the translations are complete and delivered to you, you have the option to do an internal review.
If you have bilingual staff, or a community panel, you may choose to have the translations checked to make sure they work for your specific audience.
How can you and your translation vendor work together?
Check with your translation vendor.
Consult with your translation vendor ahead of time. Client internal review may be included in their pricing!
Compile your reviewers’ feedback. This can be submitted either by using track-changes in MS Word, or by using the editing/comments features in a PDF version of the translation.
Client suggestions are reviewed.
The suggested changes will be reviewed by the original linguistic team.
Responses to feedback.
The changes may be implemented right away without question if the linguists find no issue with them. However, if the changes are preferential or not advisable, you will be provided with responses and justification for the linguists’ recommendations.
After receiving the feedback, you will make the final decision regarding what changes to implement and which ones should be ignored.
Your translation vendor will implement the changes according to your preference.
Ensuring quality translations is not just the job of your translation vendor. It is a team effort from the beginning. If everyone does their part, a satisfactory translation can be delivered every time.
Remember that you are an important part of the team. To ensure translation quality of your content, you must work closely with the translation vendor, your assigned linguistic team and your internal reviewers.
Now you know the key roles each member of the team plays in the quality assurance process.
Share your questions and thoughts in the comments.