You have a set of documents you need translated, you gather them up, email them to the translation agency, and request delivery by Monday. Now it’s time to sit back and wait for the translation to come in, right? Not so fast. When working with language professionals, you can do several things before and during the translation process to ensure you get the end product you need.
Article by freelance translator, Diana Rhudick
Send a Final Version
Wait until the final version of the document to be translated is ready. If it’s almost final, but the legal department is looking it over while it’s being translated, there are bound to be changes. And nothing is more confusing to the translator than having to read two or more versions of a file, trying to find the differences and similarities, and striving to make the final product match the source text.
If at all possible, do not send PDFs. The portable document format is great for many other situations, but most agencies and their translators work with computer-assisted translation (CAT) software that cannot read PDFs. Your translation agency will be able to convert PDFs into a usable format in most cases, but conversion can add a great deal of time and cost because the output is never perfect.
Gather Supporting Materials
Locate any available background information, including past translations of company documentation, glossaries, a translation memory file or term base from a CAT tool. If your company has a style guide, be sure to send it as well. Project managers will sort through this information and prepare it in a usable form, then they will make sure all the relevant points are incorporated into the translation. This way, your documentation and your message remain consistent.
Specify the Target Audience
One of the first questions a project manager will ask you is, “Who is this translation for?” Be prepared to explain what the translation will be used for and who your intended audience is. Obviously, an annual report that will be printed, bound, and sent to clients requires a different level of care from a newspaper article that you would like to read out of personal interest.
Be available for queries. Translators are very good at spotting problems in a source text such as inconsistencies or confused phrasing, and will point out these problems to your project manager. Your availability to explain your preferences or provide inside knowledge will boost the quality of the final translation.
It may be easier to ship off your documents and take a hands-off approach to your translation needs, but if you invest a little time in the project as outlined above, you will end up with a better product. And the whole process will be that much smoother the next time around.