Whether you’re embarking on your first translation project or you’re a seasoned marketer, project manager or technical director with experience in dealing with translation service providers, having a structure and checklist to follow will help you get the very best results from the process.
On the surface, translation can be perceived as quite a simple process. You upload a document, we count the words, assess the language and document type, match our most appropriate native speaker and subject-matter expert to the job, provide a quote and get started. Operationally, the translation process is indeed relatively straightforward. However, understanding the methodology a little more deeply and working through a checklist will guarantee better results for your translation project.
To help you achieve the best translation results, we’ve compiled a checklist that covers some additional factors you may want to consider before you start your project, some handy supplementary information that helps us provide the most effective service and a few points that will help you avoid the multitude of translation pitfalls that await.
Before you set off on your translation journey, there are some considerations that if documented and sent over as part of the brief, can help us in giving you the optimum results.
The translation itself is the art of carrying over meaning, not just simple word-by-word transformation from one language to another.
We’ve broken these down further into four P’s to help your thinking internally and your brief to us.
The focus of any translation service is to provide you with the most appropriate and accurate representation of your business, so the more we know about your business the more effective we can be at providing this. This is where a little context can go a long way. Whether it’s a brief overview of what you do, how you do it, the markets you serve and the needs you meet for the customer or consumer – the more prepared we are to make sure we hit the target the first time.
It’s also helpful to have any surrounding branding documents that may help us in the preparation of the text. We’re not talking here about logos and brand guidelines for graphic design but any kind of insight you may have into the tone, personality and style you’re shooting for is important. We may of course be able to detect and interpret this from the source text, but additional context can be useful.
Any surrounding documents may help too, such as other product guides or technical information that may support the translation itself from an understanding point of view. Our translation teams consist of subject-matter experts in fields such as engineering, but you know your products and services better than anyone, so your input at this stage is invaluable.
It may sound obvious but here we’re asking what the translation is actually for and what the intended outcome for the reader is. With the popularity of content marketing in the B2B space, this can range from educating, informing, entertaining and much more – so providing us with the purpose of your translation text is incredibly helpful. For technical documents, this is much more straightforward of course, but for marketers, a little context of what the “think, feel, do” outputs are intended to be from the reader’s perspective helps us immeasurably.
In conjunction with the above purpose, some insight into the people reading the translated text is also useful. Who will be reading this document? What is their reading level?
From the translation brief, we’re likely to know the language and location, but there is a multitude of ethnicity and cultural background cues that can help us in avoiding certain phraseology that may not resonate as well as other phrases.
The more we know about your audience, the more we can tailor the right output to suit and carry over your meaning… after all, you’re always communicating on a human level and we’re looking to make sure that connection is as robust as possible.
Have you had other translations done before? If so, sharing these approved texts can help the translation service provider too, even as a reference or a sense check for the work and past approved text. It’s also possible that you’ve used the following translation tools: terminology, machine translation, glossaries or translation memory and if so, any documents or references you have can be valuable in making the process more efficient, especially on larger and more complex technical text.
When selecting a professional translation service provider, trust is of utmost importance as often you don’t know how strong the translation is and how accurate it is to the source text. That’s why you needed a translation service in the first place!
With that in mind, we thought we’d list out some of the checks we make across our teams to make sure we’re delivering the most effective translation for you. Your translation has to deliver on the purpose of the project, for the people it’s aimed at and bearing in mind the past and your specific business and industry requirements.
Accuracy and Style
- Spelling & Grammar
- Verb agreements
- Punctuation errors
- Accents and Diacritical marks
- Colloquialisms and idioms
- Topical context
- Cross-cultural references are adapted
- Linguistic patterns
- Industry-specific terminology accuracy
- Completion – has all content been translated (no omissions.)
Sometimes, we’re also involved in the “typesetting” and formatting of documents as per the client’s requirements. And although this is often seen as a copy-paste activity, this can sometimes be further from the truth than you’d imagine as languages all differ wildly in length and presentation. This is also something to bear in mind for any subsequent graphic design output or website localisation.
- Font size
- Font consistency
- Line spacing
- Are diagrams and tables properly formatted?
- Colloquialisms and idioms
- Right to left script languages (such as Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Pashto, Urdu, Kashmiri and Sindhi)
Getting it Right
Over the past 18 years, our experience with over 1,300 companies and thousands of translation projects means there is very little we haven’t seen in terms of language, subject matter, technicality and industry challenges. We hope our checklist has provided a useful point of reference for getting the best from your translation service and removed the stress of the translation process.
Our experienced and efficient project managers are always here to help you get the optimum results. So why not get a quote today and we can walk you through the process and deliver a professional and accurate translation – whatever the challenge.