If your company relies on a language service provider (LSP) to translate your documents, you probably don’t have an in-house linguist to check the translations for accuracy. So how do you know if the translation reads well in the target language?
Your instinct might be to use Google to translate the document into its original language and compare that output with the original document. As you may already know, though, Google Translate is far less accurate than a human translator, so hopefully, the output will be very different from the original.
Your next approach might be to hire another LSP to assess the quality of the translations. This is often a good idea—especially if you are testing the waters with a new translation provider. Over time, though, the cost of language assessments will be exorbitant, so it is important that you find a reliable partner that you trust to do the job right the first time.
Your provider should have the appropriate certifications, references, and positive reviews from past clients. Also, your assigned Project Manager should be professional and readily available to answer your questions and listen to your feedback.
Read on to learn a few tips to ensure that your translations are accurate:
- Use Google Translate to Ensure the General Message Is Correct
Although you shouldn’t invest too much stock into the output of Google Translate, you can use it to confirm that the basic gist of the translation is correct. Also, Google Translate has a “detect the language” setting that will tell you if the target language is in fact the one that you requested.
Pro Tip: Your computer or other device that you are using to view the translation might not have the required font. This is common when translating into Asian and Arabic languages. Make sure your LSP sends you PDF files that display the fonts properly. You can input the content of those PDF files into Google Translate.
- Make Sure Your LSP Is Meeting Contractual Obligations
“Professionalism is a key to Perfectionism.”
― Yogesh Chauhan
Founder, Cyanider Group
If your translation provider is routinely not meeting deadlines or forgetting to supply a translation certification or regular reports, it may be a sign of internal weaknesses that are affecting the translation quality. While occasional slips happen, regular missteps and disorganization often coincide with translation errors.
- Be Proactive about Preventing Errors from Happening in the First Place
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your translations are more likely to contain errors and inconsistencies if you are not proactive about preventing them.
The following four tips will help you improve the quality of your translations before the translation process even begins:
- Find a Reputable Language Service Provider: Translation is a highly specialized area. Just because a person is bilingual does not necessarily mean that he or she has the skills or experience to deliver accurate translations.
Pro Tip: For your most important content, such as marketing material or Web content, nominate a person to review your translation; however, do not ask too many people for their input—even if multiple people within your company are fluent in the target language. After 24 years of experience, we have found that the more people who modify translated text, the higher the chance of errors and the lower the overall quality will be.
- Make Sure Your Expectations Are Clear: Do not assume that your translation partner is on the same page as you are regarding the goals of a specific project. Do you need a basic text translation? Or are you creating a translated flyer that needs to be ready to print? Setting clear goals will prevent mistakes, speed up the processing time, and improve the overall quality of the translations.
- Get to Know Your Project Manager: Who is managing your translations? Can you contact him or her easily? Is he or she transparent about the unique challenges of translating certain languages? Your Project Manager is responsible for making sure your translations are handled by the most appropriate translators. It is important that you give your PM as much information about the project or program as possible, and that you provide regular feedback so the quality of the translations will improve over time.
- Request Detailed Reporting: Your translation provider must have in-house systems to maintain quality and consistency. For example, your provider should have a language quality specialist who evaluates your translations, identifies errors, and fixes them before sending you the final output.
You can ensure that these quality audits are taking place by requesting quarterly reports. These reports should detail specific actions taken by the language quality specialist, when they were taken, and how your provider has improved its service quality for your company. These reports should also contain information about processing times and deadlines.