So… what does a translation REALLY involve?

In today’s globalized world, there is no way around translations. You need quality translations because to translate is to communicate and to communicate badly is to perish. The way you handle your communications is your window to the world, and a pretty reliable gauge of future profits. How accurate your legal contracts are, how clear your technical documentation, how professional your public presence, how many customers it can impress and motivate, how it reflects on your brand, how it affects perception of your products and services – these are all essential aspects of your business and of the professional translator’s job.

For a professional translator, quality assurance comes first. The European quality standard for translations, SR EN 15038, gives a pretty clear picture of all the valuable work a professional translator will put into your project, and why our work is worth a chunk of your communication budget.

Upon receiving your files, the professional translator will scan and skim the text to determine the area of specialization, level of difficulty, style, terminology and grammar issues. Depending on your specifications and time constraints, the translator might work on a glossary of terms to be checked back with the customer, or a first set of queries on terminology, desired style, editing and formatting issues, and so on.

Then, he or she will most likely use one of the many CAT tools appropriate for your file format – a specialized translation software, a complex technological instrument that enables us to break the text up in sentences and units, memorize translations and terms, find concordances, check the quality, and ensure faster turnaround times with improved consistency. The actual translation work then starts. We read the content, analyze, look at syntax, vocabulary, target group, local language variants, spelling, specific terminology. We make sure we understand every word and that we translate it appropriately from all these different points of view. A new phrase in the target language thus comes to life. For the sake of fluency and comprehension, we may put words in a different order, so that your translation sounds “natural” and perfectly fluent in the target language, and we use our cross-cultural knowledge to adjust your style to what is expected and successful locally. We do this sentence by sentence, line by line, page by page, all the while keeping your interest in mind, and maintaining your desired formatting (fonts, layout, etc.) If necessary, we spend valuable time doing drudging troubleshooting in the software to deliver the bilingual or clean files to your satisfaction.

Once the translation is finished, we double-check. We do what is called self-revision. We re-read the end result, both with and without the source language to check if everything is accurate, clear, fluent and complete. We check once more against your initial specifications to make sure that we have followed every step you indicated to us. Down to the last nitty-gritty detail. But we’re only human. So if possible, we’ll ask another specialist to have a look at our finished text (under strict confidentiality rules, of course), to make sure all the terminology (legal, technical, etc.) is correct.  Only then do we send the file back  where an external proofreader can make the last necessary corrections before the materials go to print or online.

For this, we need linguistic competencies, translation competencies, research, intercultural, stylistic and technical competencies, yes, even flair. We need a well-rounded education and a knowledge of the world. We stay abreast of the latest socio-economic, political, technical and marketing developments. And we hone our skills every day, so that we can turn your text into a successful attention-grabber, a safe manual, or an accurate and rigorously researched legal document. We invest money, effort and energy. We fully understand that time is of the essence – and we definitely respect that –  but so is quality.  Because that quality is our window to the world. That quality is what keeps us – and you! – happy.

Andreea Sepi, BBA –  Professional Translator and Interpreter, andreeasepi@yahoo.com, +49-(0)163-2627019.

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