Submitting; Source & Target; File format; Target market; Contents; Plan ahead; Terms and payment; Certified or Non certified; Tips for Translators to provide quality translations
For an official quotation, GNU needs the original document emailed in the word format if possible that needs to be translated in order to do a computer word count. If in another format we may be able to do the conversion.
Submitting: Only send the final and original version of a document to your translator once any changes, edits or revisions have been finalized. Changes made to a document after it has been submitted to the translator and after work has begun, will likely incur extra fees and may affect the deadline. The quality of the original document (source document) in terms of content and language structure, used to translate from, is the quality of the final translation (target document). It is important to distinguish the difference between these two processes as there are some cases where clients request translation but their papers actually need editing /translating, and they think that these processes are all the same.
Source and Target: Determine the source and target languages of your document, and establish before hand which of source or target word count the translator uses to charge you. Naturally, we need to know what language the document was originally written in and what language the document needs to be translated into. If a document needs to be translated into Portuguese, one should specify European Portuguese or Brazilian Portuguese as the vocabulary and dialects vary based on the target audience. If you don’t know the source language of your document, ask! We are more than willing to help you figure it out. If we know the correct language combination from the start, we can quickly narrow our search to find the native-language translator best suited for the job.
File format: Determine the file format of your document (eg. Microsoft Word, PDF, Excel, etc). Certain file formats need to be prepared before the ‘translatable’ material can be extracted. Knowing the file format can help GNU determine whether we will need to allow for extra time to prepare the file(s).
Target market: Establish the intended audience of your document. Knowing who the document is intended for, whether it is directed at your customers or clients, other businesses, contractors, or institutions, to name a few, will help the translator choose the right tone, style and level of language to suit your audience.
Contents: At least have a general idea of the technical nature of your document. Of course, if you cannot read or understand the language your document was written in, you will probably have a hard time figuring out what it is about. However, you can probably figure out whether the subject matter is general, somewhat specialised or highly technical with loads of expert terminology. A poorly written source document may well provide an equally poor target document.
Plan ahead: An urgent or “rush” translation runs the risk of potential errors and it won’t necessarily be an accurate representation of the best work that a particular translator can deliver. Most translators conservatively and generally translate between 1,500 and 2,500 words per day, or (5 to 7 A4 pages) and this daily average can vary based on a document’s technical complexity, subject, file format, etc. (And “rushing” a translator won’t likely win you any praise from a translator who has to work all day and night to get a time-sensitive translation done on time.). Make sure you allow adequate time in your production schedule for a proper translation to be done. Consult us as to how long is needed.
Terms and payment: Carefully read through the translator’s terms, conditions and payment policies. If you read through the legal stuff before the project starts, you can ask questions or make amendments before the work begins. This can help both parties avoid a nasty surprise after the work has been completed and invoiced. You can keep your translator happy and enjoy a long-term, mutually-profitable relationship by paying your translator for their services promptly on due date, within 30 days of receiving the invoice. (No one likes to chase money and translators are no exception!).
Certified or Non certified: If requested by customer the translator may provide a certification declaration as per example below.
Certification of Translation Accuracy
Translation of <doc’s name> from <Lang> to <Lang>
I, ………………… the undersigned representative of ………………….., hereby certify that the above mentioned document has been translated by an experienced, qualified and competent professional translator, fluent in the above mentioned languages combination and that, in our best judgement, the translated text truly reflects the content, meaning, and style of the original text and constitutes in every respect a complete and accurate translation of the original document.
This is to certify the correctness of the translation only. We do not make any claims or guarantees about the authenticity or content of the original document. Further, ……………………………. assumes no liability for the way in which the translation is used by the customer or any third party, including end-users of the translation.
Signed and stamped
A copy of the translation is attached to this certification.
Tips for Translators to provide quality translations:
- Make sure you review the document(s) and files before starting a translation. Read all the instructions that come with the job: they show you the way in which the translation must be approached. You wouldn’t call a plumber to repair a leak and leave your house without a basin tap. Ensure that all the files and documents that the client needs are the ones you have received.
- Make sure that you are comfortable with the subject matter and language style. Whilst you may take on translations in fields in which you are not an expert for the sake of expanding your business, it will take you more time to master the terminology and you will have to invest time in doing so. There is nothing wrong with it, but be aware that your own quality checking and revision become even more important. Sadly, there may be some subjects for which you are simply not qualified or that you are not good at. It is OK. Professional translators specialize in a few subjects and, in time, they become so good at them that they hardly take on anything outside their sphere of expertise.
- Make sure you are familiar with the file format. If you are working for a translation company, the files should be sent in a translation-friendly format and with a translation memory (Database that stores sentences, paragraphs or segments of text) or computer-assisted translation. Do not change the CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tool your client has specified. There is no worse feeling for Translation Project Managers than receiving a file that they have to restructure because of bad formatting. You may have saved some money using a tool that promises full compatibility with this and that format, but if you have not tried it yourself and the original format is heavily formatted, you end up wasting the Project Manager’s precious time and ruining a good relationship. They will have to reconstruct the whole file and no matter how good your translation was, wasted time can never be recovered. You risk losing a client.
- Use all reference materials, style guides, glossaries and terminology databases. Never ignore a glossary that has been sent to you. If the client has created a database, use it. If it is a simple excel file, you know all tools can import this format into a Computer-assisted Translation (CAT) tool and Comma-separated Values (CSV) files can create a glossary file in seconds. It is essential that you are consistent with the terminology and style of previous jobs. Quite often, you will not be the first translator involved in a publication process. One-time translation buyers are few and far between and if you want to succeed in business as a translator, you want regular, paying clients and a regular income. It may be the first time you are translating a particular piece or set of files. It may be the first time you are translating for a particular client, but they are sure to have bought translation services before and they expect consistency in style and terminology.
- Contact your Translation Project Manager or client immediately if you find any problems with the translation memory or the glossary. Previous translators may not have followed it or perhaps they had a bad day. If there are any quality issues with the material you have been provided with and you do not know whether to follow the translation memory (Database that stores sentences, paragraphs or segments of text) or the glossary, contact the Translation Project Manager or client and let them know there is a problem with the source. If this is not possible because of time constraints, follow what has been done before, even if your personal style and personal preferences are different. Take note in a separate file of any terminology issues and comments while you are working. You will not feel like doing that or going over the errors once you have finished the translation. Let the Translation Project Manager or client know what has happened. Remember, feedback is always appreciated and it helps to build on quality and improvements in the process. You will score many points in your Translation Project Manager’s or client eyes and you will build a reputation for yourself as a serious, quality-conscientious translator.
- Contact your Translation Project Manager or client immediately if you encounter or foresee any problems with the document, format, word count or delivery time.
- Identify relevant reference sources on the Internet for the subject you are going to translate. If you are going to translate technical documentation for quad bikes, find the brand’s website in your language. The manufacturer’s competitors are often a source of good terminology and style. If you are translating medical devices, you are sure to find some relevant material on related websites. Have all this ready before you begin to translate. It is called “background work”. And it pays off, in the short and long term. It is like doing a reference check. Would you accept work from a client who you know nothing about? Would you meet someone in real life that you know nothing about without delving a little bit into who they really are? Don’t companies do a reference check on freelance translators and staff that they want to employ? So, have other online resources specific to the topic you are translating at hand for easy reference. And, more importantly, become a researcher of the topics you specialize in as a freelancer. Prepare yourself for those days without internet when you have no connection to the online sources of information but you still have time to deliver.
- When you have finished your translation, run your spellchecker and correct any misspellings and typos. Now is the time to become your own editor and read over the document, comparing it to the original. Read again without looking at the source text to make sure that it makes sense. Readers will not have access to your source material and, frankly, they do not care that the text was translated or how it was translated. They want to read in their native language and you, the translator, are the link that allows them to do so. Your version has to read as if it had originally been written in your language, free of literal translations and cumbersome expressions that are directly transferred and without any errors.
- Check your translation against the source for any missing text or formatting issues. Most CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools include QA features as the standard within their software. Each tool offers different features, but they all are good at detecting untranslated segments, source same as target, and even missing or wrong numbers. If your CAT tool only offers basic checking procedures or you want to run more in-depth checks. You can even load translation memories and check their consistency, formatting, coherence across files, missing translations and “suspect translations” where different source segments have generated the same translation (perhaps an error accepting a translation memory match), or vice versa, when a single source file has generated multiple translations. Your clients will certainly appreciate this.
- Do not be literal. Translation buyers and readers never appreciate translations that sound “corseted”, a word-for-word carbon copy of a foreign language. It is not acceptable unless you are translating technical material, as expressions and idioms seldom translate literally from one language to another. Technical material may include pharma translations, engineering, translations for the automotive sector, medical translations, software translation, patents, etc. Accuracy and precision take priority over style in legal translations. Many examples and references may seem very relevant and clear to the original writer, but not to the target audience. Some years ago, the British Prime Minister put Japanese translators on freeze mode when he announced on a visit to Japan that he was prepared to go “The Full Monty”on his economic policies. The film had not been released in Japan. Website translations, any type of books and literature, news clips, CVs, all require a beauty of expression and flow that only come with a “neutral approach to translation”. You have to distance yourself from your work, edit and proof it from a critical point of view. You should always look at your translation as if it were the final product. You offer a professional translation service and each one of your clients is unique. Do not count on editors or proofreaders to fix your unchecked work and your mistakes. Nobody likes to correct other people’s lack of care.
- Be sure to run your spellchecker again. It will take a couple of minutes if everything is fine. A small typo may have been added during your revision stage and it would destroy all of the quality steps you have carried out until now.
- Remember to include any notes or comments for your client or for the editors about your translation in your delivery file. A simple blank delivery with your signature, or a “please find files attached” shows little interaction with your client. It may be a sign that if you do not have time to write two lines about the delivery of the project then you probably did not have time to do a quality check at all. Thank the Translation Project Manager or client for the job and look forward to the next one. If there are simply no issues to raise, say that the job went smoothly. Perhaps the translation memory was very good or in the absence of it, you felt very comfortable and enjoyed doing a translation in your field of expertise. If you have found some problems and issues, these are better listed in a separate document and attached to the delivery. Tell your Translation Project Manager or client to refer to them. There may have been a reason why you chose a particular translation or term, or why you had to deviate from standard terminology or the glossary in your language. However, if you do not warn in advance, editors will assume that there is an error and this will lead to wasting time on both sides. The editors and checkers will start to find unexpected translations or terms and, without warning, a series of translation queries will follow.