The Translation Process in a Nutshell

Posted on Posted in Interesting translaton topics, Translation quality, Translation Technology

The translation process can be very complex.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your text once you have submitted it to a translation office? Where do my documents end up?

This might be important to you regarding the confidentiality of your documents.

How does the translator translate my documents? Is there a process involved?

If you are dealing with a  good translator, yes there are many processes involved. We will discuss them in detail in the following.

What happens after translation? How are my documents checked?

In order for any text to be delivered without flaws and errors, it must be checked to a great extent to ensure that the customer receives what he/she deserves, namely a text free from error.

When a client sends a document to a translation office or agency, he/she can expect the document to travel a great deal. How the documents travel has a lot to do with the technological ability and resources available to the office at hand. There are agencies that have in-house translators and proofreaders working with them on-site, but this is not the generally the case. Translators are located all across the world. With the Internet of today, there are absolutely no boundaries to communication. Yet, the Internet can also be a very unsafe place, especially if your documents are confidential in nature. It is for this reason that agencies and clients alike should ensure that their documents are being sent over secure and encrypted networks and portals. It is also important that proper supplier selection measures, contracts, and nondisclosure agreements are in place to protect the confidentiality of your documents. It is a given that customers do not want their company information sent to just anyone.

Once a translator has received your document, after proper analysis, research and study of requirements, he/she normally imports the document into a CAT tool (Computer-Aided Translation). This is not used for machine translation, but used as a translator interface enabling much more precision during the translation process. Think of this as placing a magnifying glass over your document. Using a translation interface view, the translator has a constant view of both the source and target texts at the same time. Even if the source document uses 5 different fonts and sizes within the text, the translator sees the entirety displayed in a single standard font. This is in order to avoid confusion. The CAT tools are normally saved as bilingual files that include both the source and target text within a single document. This makes it easier to proofread and correct the text. There are numerous quality control programs to aid in finding translation inconsistencies and ensure that proper terminology is used. Although these are considered to be invaluable, there is no replacement for a set of human eyes looking over the documents. Please note by the way that these checks are very comprehensive and include capabilities far beyond just checking the spelling of a document. If this topic interests you, please make sure to read my post on quality assurance programs. After the translator has performed the translation and the document has undergone a final proofreading and electronic checks, only then does the document get exported to its original format, thus retaining every detail of the original document.

After sending the documents back to the translation office, these documents get checked again electronically and well as with regard to formatting. This is in order to make sure that the translations are complete. It is very similar to receiving a shipped order of goods and checking to make that everything has been received and is in good condition. After this, the document gets sent to a final proofreader(s) and in some cases field specialists to ensure the quality of the translated text. The best way to proofread a translated text would be to have the text corrected once by a native of the source text and again by a native of the target text. In most cases, this actually occurs at most offices depending on where the translation company is located and the resources at hand. Yet, if you are dealing with a Chinese to Italian translation done by an office in the Netherlands for example, it is unlikely that you will find a specialist available in both languages. For cases like this, translation offices choose to cooperate with each other to share their strengths and resources.

Proofreaders not only look at the quality of text, but also the requirements the customer has specified. This includes requirements that have been specified indirectly by the LSP for the customer based on the feedback given on previous translations.

After corrections have been made, depending on the type of errors found, the final document is subsequently sent back to the translator for checking in addition to receiving feedback on the work of the proofreader has performed. Only then, after every detail has been checked out can the final document get sent to the project manager for final release and delivery to the customer.

Let me impress upon you that there are many offices in the world and many have different processes, sometimes less and sometimes much more complex. Some offices have entire quality teams that examine translations for instance. This blog posting is meant to give you general and comprehensible insight into the translation process. Hopefully, this information helps you find the language service provider that offers services which suit your needs.

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