The most important yet most neglected aspects of translation are the many factors that make a translation outstanding. These determine whether or not a translation “works” or not. These translation fundamentals are easy to miss, and we have seen repeated failures for lack of attention to them.
We will start with the indispensable basics first and then move on the finer points of successful translation.
Subject Matter Expertise
People (or more appropriately clients) soliciting the services of translation agencies often make the mistake of deeming expertise secondary to the knowledge of the language. This is not only fallacious but also perilous!
Knowledge-based documents that require understanding of verbose terminology singular to a certain specialized domain may not be within the know-how of every linguist. The context of the communication must be thoroughly understood to adequately translate it into another language with unfailing integrity toward the connotation of the original work. Medicine, religion and engineering disciplines are replete with phrases and words that are well beyond the knowledge of most translators without a relevant background. These types of projects require subject matter experts who are well poised to handle the intricacies and understand the contextual meaning of professionally specific terms and phrases necessary for appropriate translation.
Proofreading by Qualified Professionals
No document should be considered complete without a thorough proofreading. Proofreading eliminates language anomalies as well as ensures the smooth flow of ideas and consistency of concepts conveyed throughout a document.
Proofreading also calls for cross-checking the source document against the translated document. And it must be noted that no mechanical “spell checker” can replace the scrupulousness and proficiency of an authentic proofreader in identifying errors not only in spelling, but in grammar, style, syntax and usage.
And finally, the formatting (appearance) of the final product plays an important role, one that an efficient proofreader undertakes routinely to ensure superiority in any translated document.
Use of Technology
Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools have become more popular over the years. These tools reduce redundant processes. With the help of programs such as OmegaT, SDL Trados, Café Tran and GlobalSight, process- and labor-intensive projects become significantly easier while maintaining an outstanding consistency of the translated words. A translation memory tool is slightly different from a CAT program in that it stores chunks of paragraphs in a source-target format. Such tools work on the basis of approved rules and accepted parameters of language.
When deciding on a translation agency, the use of such tools should be ensured to reduce the costs of repeated translations and to lower the incidence latency.
Ancillary Support & Management
Translation does not end without the work being published. A translation specialist who can provide integrated desktop publishing services is definitely worth considering. The hassles of employing different professionals for translation and then publishing can be eliminated by soliciting the services of a company that integrates both translation and publishing.
This brings us to the point of management: A good project manager adheres to deadlines and perseveres in dealing with the innumerable details of a project. Adhering to budgets and quality demands of clients is yet another requirement a good manager with the appropriate experience must exemplify.
Recognition in the Industry
Selected members of the translation industry garner recognition for their groundbreaking efforts and outstanding performance in the field of translation with several prestigious awards and certificates.
These recognitions showcase hallmarks of excellence that should be taken into account before engaging an agency. Previous lists of clients should also convey to potential clients the proficiency of the agency in providing customer satisfaction. These and more subtle points should be discussed thoroughly and unequivocally before hiring a professional translation agency.
In summary, there are many factors involved in providing superior translation services. It may take some diligence, but finding the right translation partner offers rewards in ways too numerous to count.