Translators Form Their ideal Translation: What Does It Look Like?

March 5, 2015
Translators Form Their ideal Translation: What Does It Look Like?

proz.com is a great resource for freelance translators, and the website’s forums are always active with some great discussions and useful advice. In fact, one of the topics I read on the Proz forums a short while ago got me thinking: what makes an ideal translation? 

This Hub post will draw out some of the general points found throughout that discussion thread, with the hope that it’ll get you to consider what your concept of an ideal translation is too.

Without further ado, let’s examine the factors that contribute to an ideal translation:

Clients

The client has a clear understanding of the source text and the intended audience, which is laid out in a detailed project brief.  Moreover, the client is involved throughout the translation process and is readily available in case any queries arise.

Agencies

If an agency is used, then it acts as an effective mediator between client and translator, enhancing communication and handling both technical and formatting-related issues. This frees the translator to dedicate all of their time to the translation. (Tomedes is happy to do this!)

Dealing with additional translators 

Whilst not ideal, if more than one translator is required to work on a project then clear communication about the translators’ responsibilities and work loads are established. Moreover, stylistic choices should be agreed upon to ensure that the final product reads as if a single translator completed it.

Native-speaking ability

Anyone who works on a translation should have a native-speaking ability in the target language, and ideally the source language too. This allows translator to produce a natural reading translation, with the ideal being that the reader shouldn’t realize the material they’re reading is actually a translation.

Generous deadlines

Most clients who are new to the world of translation are unaware of how long it can take to produce a good translation. In general, most translators are expected to translate no more than 2000 words per day, and the deadline should take this into account. ‘Rush jobs’ are bad for both the translator and the client!

Remuneration

Making a professional translation is both difficult and time consuming. This should be reflected in the level of remuneration offered to the translator, who is treated as a professional at all times. 

Further, there should be no such thing as a set charge per word, but rather a translator’s rate should be adjusted depending on the density of the source material (do you need a specialized background to understand the text?) and the complexity source and target languages (are familiar concepts shared between the two languages, or will the translator have to work harder to convey the original intent?).

Helpful feedback

One of the most useful things a translator can receive is detailed feedback after a translation has been completed. This will allow translators to improve their service for future clients and take note of what they excel at. Additionally, good feedback can also be used in marketing material to attract new clients.

Final thoughts

Does your concept of an ideal translation include these elements? What factors would you add to the above list? Feel free to contribute to the discussion in the comments section below.