When you hire a translation agency, it’s normal to feel a bit dizzy from all the lingo. At some point, you might start to wonder what your language partner is talking about. Isn’t translation a simple transformation from one language to another?
In truth, the translation process is much more involved than you may have imagined. As you build your company’s localization program, it’s important to grasp how exactly a professional translation process works. And while it’s not rocket science – thank goodness! – the world of translation does have its complexities.
Let’s walk through a typical translation process, as well as myths and tips for you to boost your next language project.
Those who are new to the localization industry often think of translators as pasta makers. Simply put your dough through the translation machine and voilà! You get pasta in the shape of your choosing.
While translation would be simpler (and tastier) this way, it’s actually much more elaborate. A professional TEP translation process – which stands for Translation Editing Proofreading – involves several steps and team members to create the final product.
What the TEP Translation Process Actually Looks Like
To start, a professional TEP translation process like ours is designed to get the best possible final translation. Having multiple pairs of eyes check the document is essential to prevent errors and achieve a high-quality end product.
Key Points for Any Translation Process
Before you embark on your next project, keep in mind these pointers about the general translation process:
Localization is best done in teams.
Localization doesn’t usually involve only one translator. For best results, language companies will put together star teams of linguists, project managers, editors, marketing specialists and QA reviewers. When you choose a professional translation agency, you’re often paying for this robust service.
Translations are living documents that go through several rounds.
Translations aren’t a one-and-done deal. After a translator completes the first draft, the translation will then be updated and revised through several rounds.
Localization is unique to your target market.
Identifying market goals for your text are key. Language is subtle and changes from one region to another. For example, if you’re marketing your product to Spain, you’ll want a different language style than for Mexico (and therefore a different translator who’s more familiar with the local language and culture).
Technology is only as advanced as the linguists using it.
The best translation agencies will make use of technology to boost their human talent. However, be wary of technology as the end-all-be-all. CAT—Computer Assisted Translation—tools are exactly that: tools to assist human translators. And MT (machine translation) without human review can be a recipe for disaster. The best solution is often a combination of industry-specific technology and tech-savvy translators.
A typical TEP translation process
Depending on your text and goals, your project may use a slightly different translation process. It will also vary if you require transcreation, have multimedia materials, or would like to use machine translation post-editing.
However, these are the most typical steps in creating a high-quality TEP translation:
1. The client and language partner discuss the translation needs at length.
During this initial meeting, the project manager will glean all the details for a successful translation. As a general rule of thumb, the more details the client can provide, the better the translated outcome will be. At this stage, it’s essential to share any glossaries, visuals, marketing assets, etc. so that linguists fully grasp the client’s goals.
2. The client finalizes the original document before translation begins.
To avoid extra work, it’s important to have final files, so there’s no downstream editing of the original document.
3. The project manager puts together detailed instructions for the translator.
This should include a project brief about the text’s goals (such as target market, etc.), as well as a brand style guide and a glossary of industry terms.
4. The translator reads the project brief, studies the materials, and creates a working translation.
Sometimes the translator will need to ask follow-up questions or research terminology in order to follow the project instructions.
5. An editor looks over the translation draft and checks for accuracy.
If the editor notices any inconsistencies, the translation will be kicked back to the translator for rephrasing.
6. A QA reviewer will then check the final translation.
This is the final pair of eyes before the translation is sent to the client. If he/she spots any trouble, the translation will go back through the translator-editor cycle.
7. The TEP translation is submitted to the client and stakeholders for any feedback.
At this point, the client may have some questions or comments to resolve.
Optional: Depending on the scope of the translation project, language companies may also perform in-country reviews and testing. This will vary according to the client’s needs.
How to Maximize Results of the Professional Translation Process
As you can see, professional translation services are a bit more involved than many people initially expect. Yet this standard industry process will ensure that your translation is the best possible quality. To take advantage of this process, you can:
Plan for localization from Day 1.
Don’t wait to get your translation partnership up and running. You can work ahead by creating content with translation in mind and internationalizing your company’s tech stack whenever possible.
Embrace the process to get the best results.
While it’s true that translation can be messy, it’s also a wonderful way to reach new audiences. Try to embrace this process in order to make the most of it.
Choose a professional language company.
Your language partner makes a huge difference in the quality of your translated materials. Be sure to choose a trusted company that understands your needs and collaborates with you to help accomplish your business goals.
At Multilingual Connections, we use a proven human-powered translation process in order to get your company results. Learn more about our industry experience and get in touch to kick off your next language project.
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