HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT TRANSLATOR?

The world is becoming more connected, borders are disappearing and companies do not stick to one country, but rather start exploring different markets in their quest for new customers and more growth.

When companies tap into new markets abroad, it goes without saying that all documents, websites, brochures etc. need to be translated. In that case, it is advisable to rely on a professional translator.

Unfortunately, the profession of translators is not regulated by law, which means that everyone with the slightest notion of a foreign language can call themselves a translator. It might be challenging to find a translator who meets all of your expectations and who can deliver the quality you deserve.

In this article you will find some useful tips & tricks to pick the right translator.

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The translator works in his/her native language

Mastering the source and target language is not enough to deliver a quality translation. The target language may not hold any secrets for the translator and that is why professional translators, by default, only work into their native language. Several reasons come to mind:

the translator is familiar with the smallest subtleties of the target language - which, by the way, might be an obstacle for non-native speakers - and can thus rely on a much richer language

the translation won’t read as a translation, but as a natural, fluently written text

the translator masters the spelling and grammar of the target language and can produce an impeccable text

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The translator is familiar with the subject of your texts

You can only translate a text once you fully understand what is written. This means that translators need to do the proper research during a translation project. In fact, translators cannot be well up in all industries. Most translators specialise in a certain number of fields (e.g. marketing, cosmetics, legal).

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Quality translations are not cheap

High prices are no guarantee for impeccable quality, but an excessive low price should warn you, as low rates mean that a translator needs to complete many more translations to earn a decent living and s/he will probably compromise on research and revision.

The translation rate depends on the time that will be dedicated to the translation and research, the nature of the text and other expenses (e.g. software and dictionaries).

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Quality translations require time

A translator who is familiar with the subject of your text can translate approximately 2000-2500 words a day (6-8 pages). In general, s/he prefers to leave their translation overnight to take a fresh look at it the following morning and read it through thoroughly. If afterwards the translation is to be revised by a revisor, it also requires time. Generally speaking, if the translation is of good quality, a revisor can revise more or less 1000 words per hour.

Did you find a translator who pretends s/he can translate 4000 words a day? Then you can assume that s/he will compromise on certain aspects (e.g. research, thorough revision) or even use automatic translation programmes (such as Google Translate).

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You can ask the translator for a test translation

Everyone has their own writing style, so probably not every translator will be suited for your translation projects. Are you wondering if the translator’s writing style meets your corporate style? Then ask the translator if s/he is willing to do a test translation and ask a different independent native speaker to revise that translation. That way you will know if this could be a match made in heaven.

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The translator uses translation software

Modern-day translators use CAT-tools (computer-assisted translation tools) to create a translation memory for their clients. This allows them to increase the consistency of your translations and to work faster.

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The translator asks questions

The translator needs certain information to successfully complete the translation project. S/he will therefore ask about the target audience or the goal of your translation to determine the right writing style.

S/he can also ask for reference texts, glossaries and/or jargon. After all, you know best which terms are being used in company documents.

Lastly, the translator may ask specific questions about uncertainties or ambiguities in the source text, to guarantee the translation is free of mistakes.

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The translator relies on a second pair of eyes

Even the most experienced translators can make a mistake. That is why your translation will always be revised by a revisor.

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