FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT DO I NEED?
Think carefully about what it actually is you want to get from your translation before making any rash decisions. Is this an internal document that is for informational purposes? Do you need the whole document translated or just a section? Maybe you only need the gist of what’s written or perhaps you need high-quality materials intended for selling and promoting your goods and services. Whatever the requirement, any good language service provider (LSP) will help you work out exactly what you need.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Like most services, the cost of the translation will depend on the scope, complexity and urgency of the project. Translation services are generally charged by source word (based on the word count of the text to be translated). Not all languages cost the same; for example, it is harder to source professional translators for more obscure, rare languages, which makes them more expensive. If you need a translation into several languages, it’s not uncommon for each language to be charged at a different rate. A highly technical text is also likely to cost more than a letter, for instance, based purely on the amount of research that will be required.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
The crucial thing here is to be realistic. A translator usually produces 2000–2500 words a day; bear this in mind when coming up with the timeline for your project and be prepared to build in a buffer just in case the translator has any queries.
Remember that if it took your marketing department weeks to come up with that snappy piece of copy, a top-quality, professional translator will need a reasonable amount of time to do it justice.
WHAT ABOUT STYLE?
Style and fluency are important factors in making a translation sound as natural and fit for purpose as the original. Every text type has its own style and standards that should be followed, so make sure you’ve clearly set out what the project is for and your supplier will do their best to advise you.
A clear corporate style can be just as important as visual branding; you wouldn’t change your logo in every document so why change the way you write? If you have specific requirements that you want your translators to follow too, make sure you specify them in the project brief. If you have a corporate style guide, be sure to send it to your supplier or consult them about drafting one for your translations.
Whilst machine translation certainly does have the advantage of being lightning-fast, it doesn’t have the intrinsic “feel” for language that a human translator does. So if you need a text that really speaks to its audience, make sure it’s a person doing the talking. A good LSP will be happy to work with you to find the right solution for every project.
CAN'T I DO IT MYSELF?
Knowing another language is not the same as being a translator. To put it another way, we’ve all got friends who can cook a pretty decent meal, but would you let them cater your wedding? Well the same applies to translation. Good translators have years of experience, post-graduate or professional qualifications, and a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, so it’s best to let them handle it from the start.
WHAT WILL MY TRANSLATOR NEED?
If you want your translation to come in on time and on budget, you need to make sure you give your translators everything they need. That means:
- Clear instructions
- What and who the project is for, the correct language variant (i.e. British vs American English). Which services do you require? Translation or translation and revision? Or maybe even translation, revision and DTP?
- Editable files
- Scanned images and PDFs are difficult to work with and most translators charge a premium for these formats. Plus, they’re not compatible with CAT tools, which means you lose the benefits of discounts for repetitions and built-in spelling, quality and consistency checks. Office programmes work best with CAT tools, but other file formats are compatible too. Check with your translator beforehand to avoid a headache!
- Reference material
- Do you have previously translated documents, a style guide or a multilingual website? Make sure your suppliers also have access to them – they’re indispensable tools for any translator.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO USE A SPECIALIST?
Familiarity boosts quality. If you ask a football player to tell you all about the offside rule, you’ll get a very comprehensive and – more importantly – correct explanation. Now, ask someone who’s not a football fan and you’re not likely to get the response you’re looking for. The same applies for translators. Using a translator who is experienced in your field is the only way to guarantee quality. Furthermore, building an ongoing working relationship with the same translator or translation service provider ensures that you get a supplier who knows you, your expectations, your company and your products.
WHY IS MY TRANSLATOR ASKING ME QUESTIONS?
An inquisitive translator is a thorough translator. If your translator is sending you questions about the text, that’s a good thing! It shows that they are keen to deliver the best possible translation. Asking questions is not a sign of a translator not knowing what they’re talking about; quite the opposite in fact. Firstly, it’s a sign that they care about quality and their reputation. And secondly, if there are ambiguities that need explanation, it is an indication that perhaps your text isn’t as clear as it could be, which means that you have time to iron out any wrinkles before they go to print. You will be hard pushed to find anyone that reads texts more closely than a translator, so take advantage of that and together you can create texts that are perfectly fit for purpose.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO FIND THE RIGHT TRANSLATOR?
Snappy slogans and glossy brochures aside, you need a supplier that gives you what you need. Like in any industry, when sourcing a supplier it’s important that you know you’re getting someone who takes their work seriously. Ask about how they source their linguists, check whether they offer certified translation services, find out what professional qualifications they hold and what their CPD requirements are. If they can’t – or won’t – give you the information you’re asking for, that should set off alarm bells. It might be time to look elsewhere. With that said, we work in an industry where confidentiality and discretion are key. Many LSPs will be bound by NDAs and other agreements, so don’t be alarmed if they can’t send you actual examples of translations they’ve completed.
You deserve to have full confidence in what you’re buying, in the same way that your customers deserve to have full confidence in you.
READY TO WORK WITH US?
If we’ve answered your questions and you’d like to take advantage of our certified translation services, or if you still have questions you’d like to ask us, simply click the button below to get in touch with us and find out how we can help you.