Over the last couple of decades, the translation industry has experienced an exponential growth, one that will almost certainly continue into the future. Among the reasons for such high interest in translation services are the access that the Internet has provided to businesses big and small in their attempt to enter the globalized marketplace, and the high levels of movement of people from one region to another of the last few decades—the highest ever witnessed.
The Internet has also given a platform to media-service providers, production companies and online streaming services offering a vast quantity of video content, all of which needs to be translated and subtitled if it’s going to reach people all over the world. In the future, social media channels, as open platforms available to anyone, will become an alternative path more and more for independent authors, influencers and artists in search of a wider global audience.
When choosing a translation service provider, there are some key factors that are useful to take into consideration to make sure that your needs are successfully met by the translation company.
Although the Internet allows us to hire anyone in the world from the comfort of our offices, when it comes to translation and localization, a broad knowledge of the target language and cultural knowhow can make a huge difference to the coherence, appropriate adaptation and usability of the translation. The process of translating involves much more than rewriting each word into a different language: it involves knowing the specifics of the target language in terms of grammar and syntax, according to the context; it requires a deep understanding of the culture and way of life of the people who will be the end users of the translation; it involves localizing what makes sense in one part of the world so that it can make the same sense in another part of the world, without the risk of offending or creating suspicion or doubt in the recipient of the message. There are plenty of examples in translation where the original message either got lost or became unacceptable for the foreign market, creating a big flop and—even worse—attracting the wrong type of attention to the product or campaign in question.
That is why the skills and command of the language of a native translator plays a crucial role in guaranteeing a high level of quality and a correct rendition of your message.
Qualified and experienced translators
Machine translation is getting better and better all the time, and has a great number of advantages. But machine translation must be used judiciously and only in certain cases and even then with a layer of human post-editing to make the translation readable and accurate. Because of the many factors involved in what makes a high-quality translation, machine translation cannot be regarded as a true replacement for human translation—at least not yet. The promises of a quick turn-around and the cost savings associated with machine translation can easily distract from the quality of the translation, which may result in a false economy. A bad translation might not only bring the wrong message to the target audience, but it may make a company look cheap and not up to the standard expected by customers. And in the end the project may need to be sent for translation again, resulting in delays and a bigger cost than what was originally budgeted. In the case of big projects, when there are many languages involved, the damage could be quite extensive and create a massive headache.
When choosing a translation service provider it is important to make sure that the language company has at the core of its business a network of qualified and experienced human translators and reviewers, with the right expertise in the particular field in question.
Quality management process
To ensure a smooth and successful result, along with a network of linguists, a good translation agency should also provide a team of intuitive project managers, capable of understanding your needs and of seeing your project through the various steps of the translation process with precision and attention to detail. Quality assurance is paramount in most cases, but it is crucially important for larger translation projects that require multiple languages and are split among multiple translators per language. Always look for a translation company that offers an in-house team of professional QA specialists and testers who conduct a thorough quality assurance process that includes editing and proofreading: a second set of eyes is indispensable to guarantee an accurate and coherent result.
Experience with glossaries and translation tools
In the case of large or complex projects, it is always better to turn to a translation service provider that deals with the major languages of the world, and has experience working with glossaries, Translation Management Systems (TMSs) and translation memories (TMs). These tools help the linguists to make sure that certain frequently-used words and sentences will be translated consistently throughout the project, and that your company’s core message is maintained across regions. Both glossaries and translation memories represent great language supports not only for the linguists, but also during other steps of the localization process: for example in the recording studio, to make sure that the script-writer and voice-over actor use the terminology originally chosen for that particular project or business. Once a glossary is established, it accompanies the project and guides the linguists along all the different stages, and ensures coherence and correctness in the use of terminology from beginning to end.
Additional services provided
The majority of projects these days require more than simple translation, and that is why the best translation companies tend to offer additional related services like transcription from audio or video, subtitling of videos, voice-over recording, desktop publishing, graphic editing and many others. Finding a translation service provider that is able to offer all these services in one place means that you can avoid having too many vendors to deal with and to coordinate, and consequently this will make the completion of the project much more manageable, as well as cost-effective. It also ensures consistency of results, as your project will be translated and localized according to one set of rules established at the start, without the potential errors introduced by sharing glossaries and style sheets
across different organisations.
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