High Volume Translations and Tight Deadlines

Posted on Posted in Interesting translaton topics, Translation quality

Let’s talk about high volume translations that are really big. Is it possible to translate 80,000 words (approx 260 pages) in a single day? In reality, anything is possible, but it would not be possible to do this with a single translator.

If we were to have 260 translators each translate a single page, we could probably get it done in a couple of hours (excluding communication time to schedule all of the translators’ availability and proofreading of course). This is known in the project world as “project crashing”, or adding enough resources to shorten the length of a project.

Generally, this is not very good for the quality of a translation, especially in the case of interrelated information within a single document. Imagine translating a contract with 260 pages and, on each page, the word for “contractor” has been translated differently. (e.g. buyer, contractor, remitter, sponsor, employer, constituent, contracting body, customer, contracting entity, or client). It would be a nightmare, but as they say in business, the show must go on and sometimes clients do have specific need to crash translation projects. Remember too, project crashing is always more expensive.

Although a certain lack of consistency can be expected to a certain extent, there are a few ways to minimize the risk of making a document incoherent and completely useless when crashing a translation project.

Here are a few ideas to minimize risk when crashing a translation project:

  1. Remember, the more translators working on the document, the more risk there will be. So keep the number of translators to a bare minimum.
  2. Try to use translators that work in a team or create a team of translators yourself. There are many project platforms and applications available to let translators interact with each other, share information and ask questions. By enabling a high level of communication, risk can be considerably reduced.
  3. Do an analysis of key words in the document. This is similar to a meta-tag analysis that is done on websites. It counts the number of times that key words are used. Have a list of select key words compiled as terminology and then translated by a single translator before the group translators begin working on the project. Simply said, if the word “contractor” is used in the document 100 times, make sure that all the translators know that. A terminology list comprising hundreds words could be made and given to the translators with the instructions to maintain the usage of the terminology.
  4. Try to group relevant topics within the document and give them to a single translator.
  5. Ensure throughout the project that each translator creates a terminology list for this to be shared by all the translators during the project. Partial deliveries of the translation should be made at various points delivered as unclean translation files so that each translator can update their translation memories with existing translations. There are many online translation platforms that offices use so that all the translators translate online with many of these functions available.
  6. A quality check of all the partial deliveries should be checked electronically for inconsistencies and these communicated to the translators.
  7. Depending on the size of the translation, there are a few models that can be used for proofreading. One entails a single proofreader checking through the consistency of all the translations. This person should also be provided with the terminology list and an electronic report of any inconsistencies. Depending on translator availability and the circumstances at hand, another option regarding proofreading would be to have the translators proofread the work of one another.

There are also circumstances where working with several translators is not an issue at all and doing so could in fact improve the quality of the translation.

If there are 260 pages of small articles that have little to do with each other, it might even better the quality of the articles to have several translators working on them, bringing the reader some variety. This is a particularly good idea if the articles have been written by several authors.

Risky business to crash a project, but if you have to do it, do it well.


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