The risk of compromising on translation quality

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History is witness to translation blunders that has ruined company’s sales in particular market due to bad translation. Very often translation is done out of compulsion of statutory need and not out of need to increase awareness and generate demand.

Here are some examples of how we approach translation task.

“Hey, we need some documents translated. They are in English. We need them urgently translated in French and German. May be you have Google translate which can translate. Can you get it done by tomorrow?”

Result: Urgency leads to short cuts and miscommunication. Quality suffers.

“We have done machine translation. Since we do not know French or German, we are not sure of the translation quality. Can you help in checking and editing where needed, with someone who knows French and German. Just charge us for the proof checking and editing.”

Result: Urgency has led to unwanted delay and complication. Quality suffers.

“We just have done website translation from English to Tamil to communicate our Debit Card services in Rural Tamil Nadu. But we find from customer feedback that the word ‘Card’ is translated to give the meaning of ‘Sheet’ as in cardboard sheet used for drawing. Now our website in Tamil has become a laughing stock.”

Result: Translation without getting into the context always has quality issue.

“Translations are costly, time consuming and one is not sure of the quality. So we will rather avoid translations unless absolutely essential.”

Result: Safe but a short sighted view.

The above scenarios are common as there is a tendency to think that translation is an added and unwanted cost element in developing communication plan. Reduction in translation cost will very often come at the cost of quality which we realize only after exposure and feedback from the market. By this time it is too late.

Here is the secret of getting high quality translation on time and on budget

Define your needs

What is the purpose of translation?

Is the translation required for internal circulation or for external publication?

What is the word count of the document?

What is the subject matter?

What languages you need the document translated from and into?

Do you the language have regional variations like Spanish language for Mexico or Spanish for Spain; French for France or Canada etc.?

What formats are the original documents in?

What services other than translation you need?

What is the deadline?

What is the budget?

Answer to all above questions will enable selection of right translator.

A concise and specific definition of your translation project will also help the translation provider to quote appropriately. For example consider the following brief:

“An automobile manufacturing company with export market in Spain and Canada require translation of user manual from English to Spanish as spoken in Spain and French as spoken in Canada. 50,000 Words. 100 Graphics and captions. Source document in Microsoft Word as well as PDF of the manual along with illustrated file with fonts loaded. Need quote separately for translation and translation plus formatting. Please respond with sample translation done and also send references as well as your most attractive rate with timelines for completing the job. Post edit requirement is part of translation cost. Revision and edits to source document should not be charged”.

The translation provider will prepare himself well as he knows the scope of work and provide quote which in the ultimate analysis will be of top quality and cost effective.

Select the right translation provider

Free- lance translators with in-house Management or outsourcing through translation agency? Which is right to ensure quality, timeliness and costs?

 

Free-lance translators:

Advantages  Disadvantages 
Least expensive option  Recruiting and Managing translator is not only time consuming by in-house staff, but also require special skill and experience of Industry
Can work well for small projects with limited number of language pair  Translation quality is up to you to judge.
Allows you to have direct contact and brief your needs without middlemen  Cannot get choice of large number of translators to pick
Your in-house staff who knows the language can co-ordinate for clarification  No independent guarantee that the job will be done on time and in budget
The translation memory can be your asset for future jobs Free-lancer is only responsible for translation and will not suggest other sources that may be required for optimising the project.
  Questions to ask and getting positive answers in terms of General and professional qualification, certificates, native language proficiency, domain expertise, project related experience for developing terminology, the timelines, commitment, rates, payment terms are all important and cannot be met at all time for all languages. 

 

Full service translation agency:

Advantage Disadvantages
Experience professional set up More expensive
Vast in house resources Cannot give dedicated time and so not sure of meeting deadline
Pool of talented translators on panel May promise but when other priority comes in the way, scheduling can go haywire
Can handle large projects with tight deadlines  
Multiple language pairs can be done at the same time  
Review of translation format and quality is done before hand  

 

Advance preparation of translation project and selection of translation service provider on panel for all your translation needs ensures quality and consistency of communication.

 

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