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The translation process: 5 common misconceptions

To make your translation order run smoothly, it’s always beneficial to be informed of the process and understand the steps involved.

To make your translation order run smoothly, it’s always beneficial to understand the various steps involved. There are several misconceptions about the translation process, so we've listed some of the most common. The better informed you are about the process, the less likely you are to experience issues down the line.

A perfect translation should be done quickly

The world is getting busier and the duration in which we expect results is getting shorter. And translation is no different. An agency normally expects a translator to translate approximately 2,500 words in a normal 8-hour working day, not including the additional proofreading by a different translator.

Although professional translators and agencies are aware of the demand for fast results, if you want the best quality, then giving the translator as much time as possible to work on the texts is preferable.


Cheaper is better

We all like to feel that we're getting a bargain, but that in itself can come at a price. The best agencies will be working with the best translators and they have their own tariff. These are individuals who have specific translation qualifications (usually in addition to their degrees), several years experience, specialisms in certain sectors (such as legal, medical or marketing), are technology-trained in translation tools and have spent time living in the country of the language that they translating from.

Translation agencies can offer excellent price deals depending on certain factors, such as the word count and regularity of work. Just bear in mind that spending a bit more on quality in the first place is preferable to spending more money fixing and re-translating poor quality work that was offered to you at a ludicrously cheap price from unqualified ‘professionals’.


Machine translation is enough

This is a growing business and it is the quicker and cheaper option. Yet it will never be able to replace the ‘real deal’ of an actual translator or human intelligence. Machines can’t understand context, idioms, puns, jokes, or subtle hints. Can you imagine the great works of literary fiction being machine translated? That’s why it’s always best to have a qualified proofreader check these translations.

Proofreading isn't essential

If it’s translated by a professional it should already be perfect, right? So why bother having a proofreader? Having your translations reviewed by another translator isn't a way for an agency to wangle more money out of you. For quality reasons, everything should be double-checked - or even triple-checked. Because no matter how good and thorough the translator, they are always prone to making the occasional grammatical mistake. Having a 'fresh pair of eyes' check over the work can make a big difference and potentially save you a lot of embarrassment down the line.


It’s just translating words

Sentences and words can be understood differently in certain contexts so it’s recommended that you discuss with the agency all your expectations and objectives. This can be particularly true with marketing campaigns: is it translation you need, or transcreation? If you want a document to be translated into Portuguese, the translation will be different depending on whether it’s for a Brazilian audience or an Angolan one. Sending reference files and glossaries can make a huge difference if you want certain words to be translated in a specific way. Also, the types of files you send to the agency can make a difference to the price and deadline. For example, Microsoft Word documents are easier to use than scanned PDF files with pictures and diagrams. With the latter, DTP work would need to be carried out by the agency as well as translation. All this would need to be discussed in depth with your Account Manager at the agency. A lot of skill and effort goes into creating and delivering the perfect translation and it’s not a simple step-by-step process. Are there any other misconceptions that you know of?

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Document translation services, Localisation services, Transcreation services, Multilingual SEO services, Proofreading, Voiceover services, Interpreting services, Multimedia services, Legal translation services, Other types of translation

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