Quality translations: a tale of devils and details

Quality translations: a tale of devils and details

Delivering quality translations is a team effort. It is the result of a process that entails responsibilities for every party involved. This process is called the translation workflow, and we like to continuously finetune it to the advantage of our customers and translators. Some of these improvements have required sizeable investments in technology or other tools, while some others are very simple. Today we’re zooming in on the simplest of them all: the translation checklist.

Because let’s be honest, translating is not an easy feat. Many people still think that if you are fluent in two languages, juggling them “just cannot be that hard”…. especially in this day and age, what with translators having translation engines, CAT tools and multilingual online dictionaries at their disposal. It should not be too difficult then to deliver perfect translations in record turnaround times, right?

It can of course not be denied that the internet is a great source of background information and that online translator communities have fostered vocabulary consultation amongst peers. Moreover, translation memories have definitely contributed to greater consistency. Yet, the devil is in the detail, and however helpful all these tools are, we think that they cannot and should not diminish the dedication and accuracy of a translator’s work; not even if they know that it will be proofread after submission. That is why we ask that translators use a checklist to proofread their translation before submitting it to us. The following list covers the three fields that translators should be particularly mindful of. We hope that the pointers below prove useful in our colleagues’ daily practice and that they contribute to greater quality and even smoother translation workflows.

1. Terminology

If at all possible, client glossaries should be shared at the beginning of the project. That way translators are aware of customers’ specific lingo. A Translation Memory (TM), or existing texts are  also very useful in this respect. As more translating jobs are carried out, the TMs per sector and per customer will become more accurate. Even if this requires a bit more effort at the outset, it will definitely pay off in the long run. If some abbreviations, titles of documents or acts are to be maintained, this should be included in the briefing a translator gets beforehand. The briefing, the TM and the glossaries are essential for the translator(s) to check their translation before submission.

2. Spelling & completeness

You might think this is stating the obvious, but typos are sneaky little things that like to remain unexposed. We cannot stress this enough: translators should be extra vigilant when they proofread their translation. They should eliminate all distractions, and Focus. On. The. Translation. During the editing process, translators will verify that the ideas from the source text are fully and correctly reflected in the translation. Special attention is to be given to explicit (or implicit) quotes. If they have been translated in the past, they should not be re-translated unless the customer explicitly asks for a new translation.

3 . Formatting

When the translator is satisfied with spelling and contents, a final check should focus on formatting . If the translation was made using a CAT tool, it is useful to compare the source text to the translation and see whether everything has remained in place. The tags in the source segments should be maintained at all times. Last but not least, foot notes, enumerations and hyperlinks are to be checked to make sure that they correspond with those in the source text.

Even if deadlines are important, we urge our translators to set aside sufficient time to perform the checks above. If a deadline is too tight, it is better not to accept the job than to deliver a sloppy translation. Think of it this way: will a customer order another translation if they have to spend longer than expected on proofreading the first one? Or will the customer’s campaign still be successful with its target audience if it is mistranslated?

This very last critical scan of a translation is more than a quick read-through to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. It’s the final strike against the devilish mistakes that throw a spanner in the works and make communication grind to a halt.

Do you want to know more about seamless translation workflows?

Let us know at: contact@presencegroup.eu