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Translation Quality and Subjectivity

businessman looking over his glasses with clipboard on hand - frAt Trusted Translations, we have many clients that consistently request translation services of large-text documents for distribution, such as handbooks, manuals, literature, research publications, or entire websites. Having serviced these clients with their multilingual translation needs of such large projects, we have experience in developing the optimal conditions for quality translations.

First-time clients, however, need more assurance about the quality of our service before accepting our quote for translating their sixty-thousand-word manual. Of course, it is important to establish confidence in the quality work of your translation provider before “rolling the dice” on such a large project. But what do we mean by “quality”? In the translation world, transferring meaning from one language into another requires a full comprehension of the document (including purpose, audience, and context), substantial research, experience or familiarity with the subject matter, and creativity on the part of the translators. Assessing translation quality, therefore, can be very subjective, so determining whether a translation is “good” or “bad” should be based on more important factors that preference over terms or style.

So, how do you reduce the amount of “subjectivity” that affects the quality of the translation?

Here are some tips and advice for all translation clients to achieve more reliability in assessing and guaranteeing quality:

  1. Check the source document before sending. Do you have references to specific products, processes, or terms that are only known internally to your company (not common knowledge)?  Are there acronyms stated within the document that are not defined? If so, you should send a glossary and reference materials along with the document, so that the translators can fully understand the context. Also, has your document been reviewed for grammar and punctuation? The translator needs to know whether they should “auto-correct” any grammar mistakes from the original text, so that the translation is not grammatically incorrect, or whether they should purposefully include grammatical mistakes from the source document.
  2. Consider your audience. Will you be using the Spanish translation for Spanish speakers located in the U.S. only, for Argentine businessmen, or for a general Latin American audience? Make sure that your translation provider sets the “dialect” of your language for translation accordingly.
  3. Ask your translation provider for a terminology management database.   Refer to a previous blog, Terminology Management: the Long-Term Solution to Quality and Consistent Translations.

If you consider our advice and take the necessary steps for quality control, you can avoid situations where differences in opinion or preferences regarding a translation could create frustration and further project delays. For more information, feel free to visit our website to review information about our quality guarantee, or contact us by requesting a free quote.

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