How to evaluate your translation provider

30/10/2013 | Marketing Team

In this era of globalisation, more and more businesses are taking advantage of the ability to tap into overseas markets digital communication gives them, by investing in translations. However, how can buyers ensure they select the right translation vendor for their needs, and that the product they get back is of the highest quality?

Rachel Chilson, in an article for Business 2 Community, says businesses need to begin by obtaining samples from all of the language service providers under consideration. However, it’s not as simple as just asking the vendors to send in pre-prepared examples. Furthermore, the correct process needs to be established to check the results and ensure they conform to the brief.

For the greatest chance of attracting the quality of translation needed, businesses should provide the vendors with a brief, including what the translation is for, who the audience is, where the market is based, some background on the company, and a style guide. Simply asking for a translation and not providing any additional information means the results will be mixed, and does not give the vendors a fair opportunity as they have to translate content with no background knowledge. The more guidance they have, the better the translations will be and the closer they will come to matching the quality being sought.

Consider a timeframe for each translation. Although ultimately speed of turnaround may be a priority, it is worth giving translators a little longer to produce their first sample so they do not have to rush. Over time, as they become familiar with the work and the business they are supplying, they will become quicker.

Ms Chilson says the next step is to establish a suitable evaluation process. The samples should be read by native speakers of the language they are written in; who ideally have knowledge of the business and the industry. These markers should also be provided with all of the information the original translator had so they can ensure it conforms to the brief.

The priority when assessing the samples sent back is to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors. This is absolutely basic and if the returned samples contain these simple mistakes, the translator is likely to be unreliable as it suggests they have no quality control process in place. Next, markers should make sure the work conforms to the brief the translator was sent and matches the objective they were set. It’s also important to ascertain that it looks professional and reads fluently. Markers should ask themselves if they would be happy to publish the content immediately on their website.

“In general, translation samples can give you insight into really poor translation quality that has actual errors. Quality around style is much more subjective. Style and brand preferences can be addressed with linguists to give them the proper guidance to meet your expectations,” Ms Chilson explains.

However, the evaluation process does not end there. Once a shortlist of suitable translators has been compiled, the business should talk to them about their quality assurance. Ms Chilson suggests asking the vendor whether they track the quality of their translation process, and whether they have a system in place that allows them to continually improve these results.

There is so much to consider when looking for a translator and to get the best possible results, buyers need to do their research. In addition to the pointers given by Ms Chilson, buyers should consider what type of document they are having translated so they can look for a language services provider with experience in this area. They should also consider the subject matter, as it is important to have it translated by someone who is familiar with it so they can interpret technical information correctly. Other considerations include the region being targeted, the desired readership, the length of the document and, most importantly, the purpose of the translation. By considering these points and evaluating whether the various vendors can deliver on all of them, buyers have the best chance of selecting the right translator for the job.

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