Searching for a quality translation can be a “buyer beware” situation. Creating a professional-looking website is easier than ever, which makes it difficult to discern between a reputable language service provider (LSP) and some guy running Google Translate in his basement. And, even when you do find a bona fide translation agency, their quality assurance process can be shrouded in mystery or just plain nonexistent.
When choosing the right LSP, knowledge is power, so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Here are some sample questions that will help you make sure you receive a quality translation.
1) What is the LSP’s process?
First, choose a language service provider that follows a good quality assurance process. Many agencies claim to use some combination of translation, edit, and review/proofread, but the way they define those steps can vary. The editing step – where a second translator compares the translated text to the original text sentence by sentence, checking for accuracy and omissions – is crucial to the quality assurance process, but many LPS’s skip it entirely. Have your prospective LSP explain their process in explicit terms: how do they define “edit,” “review,” etc.? Also, beware of LSP’s that skip any of these steps or offer “translation only.”
2) Who is performing the translation?
It may seem obvious, but an LSP’s choice of translator or editor can make a big difference in the translation’s quality. A good LSP should use translators who translate into their native languages (i.e. a native speaker of French for an English-to-French translation) and is near-native in the original language. Using non-native speakers can result in translations that have errors or feel artificial in tone.
Being a native speaker doesn’t in and of itself qualify someone to be a translator, so it’s important to make sure the linguists are experienced with translation in general, and with the document’s subject matter in particular. Bonus points if the translator/editor has been certified by an association like the American Translators Association (ATA). Find out exactly how your LSP qualifies their translators.
3) How does the LSP measure productivity and assure quality?
Ask the LSP what processes they have in place to make sure that your translation is completed accurately and efficiently. Find out what software they use to assure consistency and manage terminology and what tools they use to manage the various steps involved in the management of your project. This brings us to…
4) Who will be managing your project?
Dealing with multiple steps across several languages involves a lot of moving parts. That’s why you need a project manager who can juggle every last step of the process, and who will make sure your translation is completed by its deadline. Make sure your LSP has an experienced project manager ready to handle your translation, who will select the right translators for the job, and who can answer your questions or address any mid-project changes.
5) Any questions?
A good LSP will also ask you plenty of questions, like: Who is the target audience for your translation? Where are they located? What’s their education level? Do you have a glossary or preferred way of translating key terms? Will you need desktop publishing? Do you have an in-house or in-country reviewer who will be checking the translation after it’s been completed? These are all important questions that can help tailor a translation to suit your specific needs, and if an LSP isn’t asking them, it may indeed be time for the buyer to beware.
Language Translation, Inc.
A leading language translation and interpretation service provider for more than 20 years.