Fears and Challenges of Working with Several Translators on a Single Translation

Posted on Posted in Things you never think of

One of the most difficult things to deal with in the translation industry has to be dealing with tight deadlines and several translators at once. Within the scope of larger projects, quite often, not enough time is planned for the translation of documents. There are many who believe that incredible volumes can be translated flawlessly practically overnight.  Similar to many services, things take time.

Requests are often made to have entire 100-page contracts delivered by the next day, or thick technical manuals to be translated within two or three days. Just think about a book with 100 pages. How long would it take to type that book out on paper? Now, how long would it take to sit at each and every sentence, think about it and then write down a translation, research terms, and edit the final text a couple of times? Then, have a second person do the same? I can image that would be more than a day’s work, more like a month.

Unfortunately, despite these explanations, when business is at hand and money is to be made, there is the possibility of using more than one translator for a single text. This is generally taboo, seeing that a translation’s consistency is paramount, but if this absolutely has to be done and the customer agrees to do so, the possibility exists of splitting the translation between translators. Please note that I do not recommend doing this. I am simply stating that in a case of need, it can be done and there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of having a completely worthless translation.

Here is some advice when doing so:

  1. Keep the number of translators to an absolute minimum. When splitting a large translation between translators, there will be inconsistency to a certain degree, so it is impossible to expect a perfect translation.
  2. Try to establish a line of contact between the translators. Some project social media platforms that can be established only for certain groups are an excellent tool for this. It is better to have translators working on a single project as a team rather than as single translators.
  3. Do an analysis of key terminology that has to remain consistent throughout the entire document. The word “contractor” in a supply contract should not be translated differently throughout the entire document for instance.
  4. Make sure that all translators are using a translation memory so all of the translations can be checked for consistency electronically using QA programs.  (For more information on QA programs and translation memory, please see my posts on this subject.)
  5. Make sure deliveries are given on a rolling basis and these deliveries are shared will all of the translators involved in doing the work.
  6. It is very important for the consistency of the document to have one person, ideally the proofreader to be responsible for reading the document and ensuring its continuity. If time prevails, good advice would be to have one proofreader checking all of the deliveries and communicating with the translators about inconsistencies.

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