Who Determines the Quality of the Translation?

That is not a rhetorical question, but a very important one when you consider how vital translations are to your export business and your growth overseas. The quality of the translated documents and/or software you provide to your clients in their native language impacts your company’s image.

If the quality of the translation is poor, it reflects poorly on your company. However, if you can provide a high quality translation of your documents and software, it can help improve the satisfaction of customers who have purchased your brand.

None of this is news. If you have been doing translations for a long time, you know how important the overall quality of the final work is. What you may not know is how you can ensure the overall quality of the translation.

First, you should check out your agency before using them. Talk to their current customers. Ask to speak with someone whose project didn’t go exactly as planned and see why they stayed with the agency. If they say it is because they provide high-quality work and quickly correct any mistakes that are found, you can feel comfortable using the agency. (Remember, no one is perfect.)

Second, include editing or client review with your projects. If you don’t have anyone in the company that speaks the language, opt for editing. This gives you 2 sets of eyes on the document to ensure a significantly higher quality document.

Third, put together an English Glossary of Terms so that the agency will know what the key terms are and can translate those first and give them to the translators who are working on your document. Glossary creation provides consistent terminology use even if you are using multiple translators to get a project done quickly.

Finally, you determine the quality of the translation. You will never make everyone that reads your translated documents happy, but if you receive complaints, be sure you relay those to the agency immediately and ask them to review the text in question. If the agency shows concern and asks an independent translator (this is someone who has no financial stake in your project) to review the text, you should feel very comfortable with the agency you have chosen.

If the independent review feels the complaint is a style issue, then you can feel fairly safe in ignoring the complaint. There will always be issues with differing styles. However, you can ask that the person making the complaint discuss this issue further with the original translator.  This way both parties have a stake in the final translation of the document and most of the time everyone leaves happy.

Remember that just as in an English document, there will always be someone that is overly critical of the way something is written in their native language. People love to edit, and it is the same in any language.

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