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getting translation right

Technical translations must be clear and accurate. Providing existing translations of similar materials and preferred terminology to your translator will make the process smoother and more effective. Consult with your translator on developing a company glossary if one is not available. Glossaries and translation memories are business assets!

Advertising and promotional materials may need rewriting so that the context is appropriate for the intended audience. Good quality translations require research, and texts intended for publication usually require copy editing and careful proofreading. Lead time is very important, and feedback from the user is the best criterion for judging the quality of the translation.

The American Translators Association's publications Translation: Getting it right and Translation Buying Guide offer practical guidelines for ensuring accuracy, timeliness, cost effectiveness, and most of all, the success of your translation projects. Let's summarize the key specifications your translators will need to deliver the results you want:

Audience: Is the translation directed to consumers, employees, specialists, technicians, legal or government entities?

Purpose: Will the translation be used as reference material, a user manual, published marketing material, legal documentation, or an internal memo?

Language of your original document (source text) and the language into which it is to be translated (target text): Consider the regional variations of the language in your new market. Translators build effective bridges between the languages of your customers.

Subject area and type of text: Provide glossaries for technical terms to improve consistency and avoid misunderstanding.

Formatting and volume of project: Type of files—word processing, XML, PDF, DTP—number of pages, and word/character count. How should the files be delivered and to whom?

Deadline and price: Getting a great return on your investment depends on giving your translation team time to do thorough, creative work. Expertise is worth the price. Why risk failure, liability, or losing credibility and clients?

Identify those responsible for each step of the production phase (translation, bilingual checking, monolingual checking, formatting) by defining the specialized know-how of each person on the project. Assign a contact within your organization to answer questions.