The work of translation is highly skilled and requires a lot of training and knowledge to do well. The world is full of translations that are just OK, some that are great and a whole bunch that are bad. The last category tends to be the product of unscrutinised machine translations that haven’t seen the eyes of a living, breathing translation professional but can sometimes also be the result of amateur work. Clients want the best bang for their buck and for the last couple decades, I have been dedicated to providing it at ACR Spanish Translations. There are, in my experience, several things which set great translations apart and both client and professional should be able to spot them!
- Accurate meaning: Of course, what would a translation be if it didn’t accurately convey information from the source language to the target language? Translation mistakes happen and no professional is immune to them but if you are finding incorrect words or grammatical errors in your translation, it could be a sign of inexperience or sloppiness when it comes to translating your project. Accurate terms that are specialized for your topic are essential and a translator should have the experience to know those terms or the wherewithal to look them up!
- Localization: Are you dealing with a particular dialect or region that requires that you tailor key information in a translation to that locale? A clear sign of a good translation is one which understands the intended audience for the document or project and works to convey the necessary information in a way that is specific and meaningful to that audience. In other words, as per one of my latest articles, localization matters!
- Quality proofreading: You may have accurate meaning in a translation and it may be tailored to its destined audience, but if the translation is riddled with spelling and punctuation errors, no one is going to pay attention to how well the meaning is conveyed. Realistically, if you are using a translator who is certified and registered with a professional association, you should ideally not be receiving translations full of mistakes. If you’re a client, be sure to include proofreading as part of the translation deal and if you are the translator, make sure you spruce up your proofreading skills through practice and professional development.
- Appropriate Formatting: You might have a flawless translation but if it comes back to you in a format that you cannot use or didn’t request, what good is it to anyone? Quality translators should be adept at finding out the formatting needs of their clients and fulfilling them within reason. I say within reason because translators are also not graphic designers and cannot be responsible for the layout of an eBook or technical manual they translate, unless that is a service they also offer. At the same time, if a client asks for something in PDF format, it doesn’t help anyone to send items over in Word documents, as an example.
- Professionalism: With regards to working with translators, the last thing which sets quality translations apart is the professionalism by which they are delivered. Great translators follow email etiquette, respect deadlines and are punctual for phone calls, consultations and meetings.