Whether you need to translate a document for one-time use, or you rely on a multilingual online translation agency for ongoing projects, you need to know that your documents will be returned to you error-free and ready for use. While you can greatly improve your chances of this by selecting a recommended provider, with excellent client feedback and the appropriate certifications from their country of origin; it’s a simple fact of life that mistakes can (and probably will) happen at some point.
But if you’re deciding on a translation company for the first time, or looking at assessing the accuracy of your current language services provider, here are seven common mistakes to be on the lookout for before signing up. 7 Mistakes to Look for When Using Translation Companies
1. They Use Free Translation Software
There’s a plethora of free translation tools available online and in the App Store, and many of them are extremely helpful if you’re in a jam, or you need to get a general idea of what’s being said.
But whether you’re a student who needs a document or essay translated for official or academic use, or a company trying to attract more clients; conveying a “general idea” isn’t going to make the grade.
If your essay sounds as if it’s been written by an individual with a poor command of the target language, or your marketing materials are littered with errors, you’d be better off not providing a translated version at all.
After all, would you reward a student with a high grade if their sentences didn’t make sense? Would you do business with a company who didn’t appear to take their clients seriously?
2. They Translate Every Word
While you might be thinking –So, what’s the problem with that, after all; isn’t that their job?– Let me give you an example of why this error can be so costly. Let’s say tour company name is “Green Apple”. Your logo, and branding, and marketing, and communications, and SEO are all tied in with these two key words.
Now imagine you send a thirty page document to an inexperienced translator who translates every word – or worse – thirty different documents. Whatever the language, your company name suddenly disappears. In Spanish you’re now “Manzana Verde”, in German you’re “Grüner Apfel”… you get the idea.
Let’s take another example for a legal client getting key documents translated. The client’s name is “Mr. Carpenter”. Which is translated into Mr.“Stolar” or Mr. “Snickare”, or Mr. whatever the word for carpenter is in the language required.
A translation company who does this is probably relying on free translation tools and then proofreading the errors. But if this client’s name comes up several times, at some point in a lengthy document, one of these errors might get missed. And it might make a contract null and void.
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3. They Don’t Ask Enough Questions
OK, OK, so you’re busy. Everyone’s busy and we all like to know that someone else can get a job done for us. But it’s always better to make sure that whoever’s doing the job for you is sufficiently informed of the requirements beforehand.
Translation agencies are experts in language. Some even excel at marketing, SEO, programming, and localization. But what they aren’t experts in is your business. While they can assign you a translator familiar with your field, from medical to legal; they’ll still need to know certain key things about your company.
You wouldn’t ask an architect to design you a house without expecting him to ask you a few vital questions –How big? How many bedrooms? etc. – So why would you hand off an important document to an unknown third party without expecting them to do the same?
4. They Don’t Create a Translation Glossary
If the translation agency relies purely on human translators, then the very best ones will create a translation glossary of terms for your business. Those who use CAT tools, will create something similar online, such as a translation memory.
They need this important list of pre-defined terms to ensure that their translators use them consistently and therefore, provide consistency throughout your translated materials. Translators further rely on the translation glossary to ensure accurate work, and to save time researching existing terms.
5. They Don’t Proofread Their Work
We live in an age where we’re used to getting everything now. And when free, instant online tools can give us what we (think we) need within seconds, you may be left thinking – So why should I wait for my translations?
While a professional, capable and global company with experienced translators can turn your translations around exceptionally fast; make sure that it’s not at the expense of quality, especially if you don’t understand the languages they’re translating.
If a translation company doesn’t proofread, or only proofreads once, without having a second proof reader to double check, the first time you’ll be aware of the error is when your clients tell you.
6. They Give You an Inaccurate Quote
Beware of translation companies that offer you what seems like an incredibly low quote. It’s like the universal law; if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Make sure that you query and properly understand the price and conditions before you approve, as the rate offered may only apply over a certain word limit, or on certain types of translations.
7. They Don’t Deliver on the Formatting
In many cases, translating goes beyond language and words. Whether it’s a legal document that needs to be translated and certified, or a PowerPoint presentation that needs to have the formatting respected, if your translation agency doesn’t or can’t do this, then it’s going to take twice the time for you to figure out how to get the words to fit in the certain boxes or popup windows.
So make sure that you choose a company that can provide you with mirror image documents, ready for use, and that is comfortable and capable of using online content platforms, editing presentations, excels, and any other software you use.
You wouldn’t trust your marketing message, branding, or important documents with just anyone. And yet so many people make the mistake of doing this when it comes to translation.
So choose with care, query the price, find out what (if any) assisted tools they use, and how extensive their proofreading practices are. Be on the lookout for all these red flags, so that you can find a professional, reliable translation company with a range of services (https://www.daytranslations.com/services) that suit your needs and that cares about the quality they deliver.
About the Author:
Ronnie Avelino is the Alliance Manager of Day Translations, Inc. (www.daytranslations.com), an online translation and localization services provider, dedicated to the improvement of global communications. By helping both corporations and the individual, Day Translations provides a necessary service at the same time as developing opportunities for greater sympathy and understanding worldwide.