How to get the most from your translation services provider
by Karen Elwis
Selecting the right translation company is obviously a critical factor
when it comes to ensuring top quality translation. However, if you
are writing the source copy yourself, there are other important steps
that you can take - even before you approach a translation provider -
both to reduce your costs and to ensure that the final foreign language
version of your text is fit for purpose.
There are various ways to help make sure your copy is "translation-friendly",
the first being to ensure that the source text is carefully proof-read
before you submit it to a translation company for a quote. Bear in mind
that even the best tailor can't create a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
In other words, if the source text isn't top notch, then transforming
it into a first-rate translation is bound to involve a lot of extra work,
which inevitably impacts on the end-cos... If a text doesn't make sense
in the source language, then it almost certainly won't make sense in the
target language either. So be clear, be concise and be sure the text says
what you intend it to! Moreover, if you make alterations to the text after
you've received a quote, the price will most likely change anyway, so you'll
have to get another quote and be back to square on... Starting off with a
well-written, carefully proof-read definitive version of the source text
saves a lot of headaches all round.
Formatting is another factor to consider at the outset. If you have
particular formatting or layout requirements, intimate these when you are
asking for a quote, not once the translation is complete. Likewise, if
your format requirements change during the project, let the translation
provider know as soon as possible.
If you want the translated text to have a particular tone or style,
it's helpful to make this clear when you commission your translation.
The more information a translation supplier has about your target readership
and intended "message", the better the translators can be briefed and
the intended style achieved. With marketing texts in particular, finding
equivalent puns in one or more target languages can be time-consuming or
even impossible. So it's worth bearing this in mind when you or your
colleagues are writing the source copy, as these issues can affect both
price and timescale. If your marketing department took 2 weeks to develop
a snappy five-word slogan, the translator will require time to find something
that works equally well in the target language.
Consistency is often an issue, especially in the translation of large
technical manuals or lists of trade-specific words or phrases. In these
instances, providing in-house glossaries or background reference material
helps to ensure that your translation is written using the same in-house
terminology as used in previous documents. So if you've had translations
of similar material carried out before, or if your company's in-country
representative has a list of terms which are used regularly within your
industry, it really pays to make sure your translation provider has access
Finally, whilst you know your own industry inside-out, there may be
aspects of the translation industry that are unknown territory for you,
so it's only natural to have questions about how the whole process works.
Even if you don't have an immediate requirement, any professional translation
providers worth their salt should be happy to answer your queries. Project
managers will usually be pleased discuss potential clients' requirements
and to help you work out the best language and language-related technology
strategy to tackle your export markets either now or in the future.
About the author
Karen Elwis is a translation manager with Internet translation services
provider Lingo24 (www.lingo24.com).