A guide to buying translation

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For non-linguists, buying translations can be frustrating. The suggestions in this blog are aimed at reducing stress and helping you get the most out of your translation budget.

  • Rather than blindly translate documents in full— hundreds of pages—decide with your client (or sales team) which information is actually required.

Translate only relevant sections of existing documents, or produce shorter texts and have these translated.

  • Judicious use of maps, pictograms and diagrams can be far more effective with international readers than literary ramblings and hyper-technical descriptions

Only use text when you have to, or when it is the most effective means of getting your message across

  • Avoid culture-bound clichés. References to your national sport may well fall flat. Ditto literary/cultural metaphors.

Keep some local flavor if you like, but check with your foreign-text team to make sure that adaptation is possible.

  • Sometimes translations are technically accurate, yet the sentences do not flow as smoothly as they might; word order or choice of vocabulary may be unduly influenced by the original language. They are not particularly effective for selling, but may be good enough for readers who know the subject and can—or have time to—read between the lines.

Many suppliers routinely provide “forinformation” translation as standard work, as opposed to a “rewrite” or “adaptation.” To avoid misunderstanding, clarify this up front. Get it in writing

  • Tempting as it may be to get your translation project rolling as quickly as possible, having translators work from a draft-in-progress will almost always be more time-consuming—hence more expensive (and probably more frustrating)—than waiting for the final text to be ready. Worse yet: the more versions you have, the more likely it is that errors will creep into the final version.

Deadlines and drafts

Sometimes you have no choice. Sometimes deadlines are so tight that work on the translation must begin before you’ve finalized the original text. If so, be sure to clearly time- and date-stamp each version and mark changes from one version to the next for your translators.

A speech is not a web site. A sales brochure is not a catalog entry. A graph heading is not a directional sign. An article in The National Enquirer is not a prospectus for an Initial Public Offering. Style, pronounceability, word choice, phrasing and sentence length—all will vary, depending on where your text will appear and what you want it to achieve. An experienced translator will probably ask you for this information; make sure you know yourself.

 Be sure to tell your translators what your text is for, so that they can prepare a foreign-language version with maximum impact for that particular audience and medium.

Whenever possible, know your translators—not just the project managers, but the translators themselves, the people who actually produce your texts. And make sure they know you.

Talk to your translators. They should be at home with the subjects they translate; if not, it’s time to change suppliers. Translators should not be learning the subject at your expense, unless you have expressly agreed to this.

At ieb Translation Services, more than 12 million words are translated annually. English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Portuguese and Asian and Arabic languages; all of them in all their combinations.

We specialize in legal and medical translations
Request a quote on-line or ask HERE

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