Friday, 5 February 2016

Finding the right (wo)man for the job

Where to begin?

Your text is ready and you're pretty pleased. All that extra time and effort devoted to getting every detail right and conveying the right message has really paid off. Now you need it in one or more foreign languages but where to begin?

Your options

Free translation tool:

Let's keep this nice and simple: it's free and it's instant.

BUT - be honest - have you ever laughed heartily at a translation error/gaffe/disaster (take your pick) online? We all have. Just imagine if you or your company was the butt of the joke.

Unless you really just want to get the gist of a very informal conversation, then steer clear. In every likelihood you won't understand the translation produced and have to assume it's fine. If it isn't, you might not find out until it goes viral on social media... for all the wrong reasons!

Translation agency:

A good agency will have the skills and tools to handle large multi-lingual projects that most individual translators can't take on. But not all agencies are equal.Bear in mind:

  • if an agency is promising you the earth (20,000 words overnight?) it is obvious the job will be split among several translators (in terms of output, most translators give a guideline of 2,000 to 2,500 words a day depending on the text). 
  • if the agency is cheap, it can't possibly be paying its translators a decent rate and good translators don't operate in the low end of the market.

Finally, if your text is highly specialised you will probably want an agency that works with translators who specialise in your field.

Freelance translator:

There are many advantages of going direct to a good freelance translator:

  • you get the same translator every time. If your project is ongoing, this is the best way to ensure consistency of style
  • the translator can contact you direct for clarification and becomes familiar with your business, preferred terms and house style
  • you can build a relationship of trust which is satisfying to both parties

Be aware, however, that good translators are busy translators. The best way to avoid disappointment is to plan ahead.

And not all translators are equal so here are a few pointers:

  • professional translators work into their mother tongue. With a very few exceptions, translations produced by a non-native will have some giveaway signs, however minor, which spoil the overall effect 
  • like other professionals, translators specialise. Specialist translators may have a background in the particular field or, at the very least, will have spent considerable time learning the ropes and keeping abreast of developments. 
  • if you're looking for a nifty piece of creative copy, you need a creative translator or transcreation specialist. 
Looking for a professional translator? You have several options:
As I mentioned in a previous post, translators network and can often refer you to a colleague if they can't do the job themselves. Feel free to contact me if you need any help.
Hopefully, you now know where and how to look for a translator. Next time I'll give you an idea of what to expect when working with a translator.

If you have any questions in the meantime, fire away in the comments.

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