5 Biggest Mistakes in Placing Your Translation Tasks

Big Mistake Number One. Using someone who is not a translator.

It’s easy to think someone who speaks Chinese will be able to translate your document into Chinese. Unfortunately there are strong odds you’ll be wrong. Translation is actually a surprisingly difficult task and very few speakers of a foreign language have the required skills to do it well.
These are the skills a translator needs to have:

–    Full mastery of both source and target languages
–    Excellent writing ability in the target language across a range of styles – formal, casual, technical, etc.
–    A focus on accuracy and excellent attention to details
–    Sound research skills

Without these skills a translation is likely to be inaccurate and/or rather poorly worded in places. If good wording and an accurate translation are important, you need a trained and experienced translator, not an amateur.

Big Mistake Number Two. Using someone translating into their second language.

We’ve all experienced those ‘English’ product instructions we haven’t been able to follow or understand. You can bet the instructions were clear in the original language, but the ‘translator’ wasn’t a native speaker.

Good translation requires excellent writing ability, and you develop this by having your education in the language and then honing your skills over time. Without this, people will make grammatical errors and their wording will be somewhat unnatural or awkward. Again, if quality matters the translator must be translating into his/her native tongue.

Big Mistake Number Three. Using a translator lacking technical knowledge.

Certain technical texts are often beyond ‘general purpose’ translators. Whilst the terminology in some fields can be researched on the Internet, other more technical texts require a translator with expertise in that field. If they lack this knowledge the translation of some terms may be wrong, and in general the translation won’t have the correct style and/or phraseology.
Not only technical, scientific and engineering texts but also legal, accounting, financial and medical texts fall into this category. They need to be handled by translators experienced in those fields who command the specialist terminology. If not, experts in the field may distrust the translation.

Big Mistake Number Four. The translator has inadequate checking and review processes.

Translating is not an easy thing for the human brain to handle. For example, a Japanese translator has to read a sentence in English and express that accurately and naturally in Japanese. In practice the first attempt is often rather awkward sounding, and it’s not uncommon for words and even phrases to be missed, or some sections to be inadvertently misinterpreted. It is really only a draft translation needing systematic checking for accuracy and the wording refined to produce a natural sounding translation.

Inexperienced or overconfident translators may not have the required review disciplines and deliver draft quality translations. Professional translators are trained in the processes to follow, and because translators are human and sometimes make mistakes, best practice in our industry is for translations to also be peer reviewed by a colleague before finalisation.

Big Mistake Number Five. Insisting on a tight time frame.

If a translator has to rush and doesn’t have enough time to thoroughly check their work, the chances of the translation containing errors and being somewhat awkwardly worded are greatly increased.

This may be unavoidable in some circumstances, in which case you’d better be sure your translator is top notch! We find some clients want to impose a tight timeframe when this isn’t strictly necessary, without realising how this can affect quality. We recommend comfortable time frames wherever possible.

The Solution. Use a professional translation service!

Professional translation

A professional translation company such as YBD will provide these advantages:

–    we are constantly trialling translators, so use only those that have all the right skills and attributes
–    we monitor our translators on an on-going basis to ensure professional standards are maintained
–    we have technical experts to work on technical texts
–    we have thorough and proven QA and peer review processes

This all adds up to much greater assurance of quality. In fact, not using professionals for your translation needs is essentially gambling on quality. Fortunately there is no need to do that.