Selecting a world-class language translation and localization agency: what you need to know
Delivering a first-class service
Meeting customer expectations and delivering a first-class service. These are the primary aims of a professional translation and localization agency. You need a document translated in order to do your job. Therefore, you need to find a high-quality professional agency to assist you.
Five different stages to the translation process
To provide the correct service level to match your expectations, the translation and localization agency may offer you different approaches or stages. They will also provide you with a dedicated project manager who will coordinate the process from start to finish. The project manager will select the right translator for your job and will handle any queries on your behalf. They will also ensure that the translator complies with any specific terminology, style or brand guidelines that your business has.
Understanding the process will help you find the right agency and service to meet your needs. In this article we explore the approach and the methods used by professional translation agencies to provide their customers with first-class service.
Stage 1: Analyse and research
Translators will have their areas of specialism, which could be in a particular industry or a niche within sectors. But even then, they may still need to complete additional research to bring themselves up to speed with any advancements. Therefore, the first thing a translation and localization professional does when they receive a text is to skim read and analyse the content. This is to ensure they are comfortable with the subject matter they will be working on. A high-quality translator will not, for example be comfortable working on a legal contract if their expertise is in literary translation. It’s important that the translator has a good knowledge of the subject matter they are working on. You will receive a higher quality translation in terms of accurate terminology and their understanding of any associated technical processes.
How long will it take?
Next, the translator will evaluate the size and complexity of the project to get an idea of how long it will take them. It’s important to get this right so that they spend the right amount of time on your translation and localization project to provide the best possible service. It also means that they need to understand your deadlines. This is to ensure that they can meet them along with the other projects that they are working on.
Using Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools
Your source text will probably be run through a CAT tool, such as translation memory software, during the initial assessment stage. This will break up the source text into individual segments (usually on a sentence level). It will also provide the translator with a word count and repetition analysis. The translator will use the results to determine whether they can save time and therefore costs.
You want your translated text to retain the spirit and accuracy of the original. At the same time, it needs to be written in such a way that will resonate with your target audience. Therefore, researching any key terminology, the tone, overall message and purpose of the text is particularly important. However, it is likely the translator will continue to do this throughout the project.
Stage 2: Draft translation
Analysis complete, the translator will then begin work on your translation and localization project by sketching out a draft. They may use CAT tools to break down each section of the source document into smaller and more manageable chunks. This requires skill and experience to avoid splitting it into chunks that are too small. If this happens, there is a risk that the translator will lose sight of the bigger picture. The translation could end up sounding disjointed and stilted. On the other hand, if the chunks are too big then the translator can struggle to process the material in their short-term memory. Ultimately, each segment needs to be translated so that the end result flows without any gaps or unnecessary repetition.
Stage 3: Review
Once the draft is complete, the translator will go through it carefully to ensure that there is no missing information. The best way to do this is to compare the translation against the original source document segment by segment. This is to ensure that all the data, facts and figures appear correct and no critical information has been overlooked. Quality and first-class service are of paramount importance for the customer. So, the translator will be checking the accuracy of the translation, correcting typos and potential misinterpretations against the source text.
Stage 4: Relax!
After the review, the translator takes a break from working on your translation text. It’s a simple but important part of the whole process. It’s likely that they will have been working intensely on the text for a number of hours. Sometimes this makes it harder to spot errors. Again, to guarantee quality and a first-class service, and if time permits, it’s best to leave the translation overnight. The translator will be more effective if they can look at it again with completely fresh eyes. However, if there isn’t sufficient time, then they will work on something different for a couple of hours. Then they will start the fifth and final step of the translation and localization process.
Stage 5: Refine
In the final review, the translator will read your now translated text without referring to the original source. This is because they have already checked it for accuracy and they are now concentrating on refinement. They will focus on improving any areas that may sound slightly clumsy or unnatural to a native speaker. They will also tweak any idioms, grammar and sentence structure to suit the target audience. And they will polish the text to a standard where it sounds like it was a piece of original writing in their native language.
The end result
A polished piece of content! It flows naturally in the translated language while remaining faithful to the source text. And the customer has experienced a smooth and professional service!
If your content is for publication or legal purposes, then it will undergo an additional check. A second native linguist will then review the text to ensure that nothing has been overlooked or misinterpreted. Your project manager will also undertake a quality assurance check to ensure that only consistently high-quality work ever reaches you.
These are some of the advantages of working with a translation and localization agency rather than an independent translator. The additional checks are the final touches to ensure that you receive first-class customer service throughout the translation and localization process.
About the author
Sinead Livesey graduated with a First Class Honours degree in French, Spanish and Linguistics from the University of York in 2013. She joined Planet Languages shortly after and is now a senior member of the project management team. Across her multiple client accounts, she coordinates translation, proofreading and typesetting projects, as well as providing in-house expertise in her native and studied languages. Outside of work she enjoys distance running and cycling and completed the 2019 London Marathon to raise funds for the Wessex Cancer Trust.
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