The Language Room, Translation & Interpretation, Edinburgh, Scotland, London, UK

Small help guide to get the translation you need when you need it (when Google Translate is just not good enough).

When you need a document to be translated there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get what you need and all your requirements are covered.

We’ve all scrolled and used Google Translate or Word Ref at some point ; these are very handy, free and easy to access. However their use can only apply to a small number of words and can not extend to full sentences or paragraphs as wrong translations appear quickly creating mistakes and misinterpretations that can have very negative effects. One good way to check is to copy what you have just translated from English into the language you need and put that back to be translated into English; laughter guaranteed, proving that machine translation is not there yet. Which is great news for us, let’s be honest!

So, once the option of a free quick Google translation has been discarded, how to choose a reliable translation agency who will deliver what you need when you need it?

First of all, assess what you need: your whole document? part of it? your entire website or only a few pages, etc.?

Then what you are going to use it for.

Is it to get the gist of it or are you going to make a presentation to a prospective client, send it as a tender or print it in a brochure?

The two will require different services: if you just need to get a general understanding of a document, a simple translation by one translator is sufficient. It might still have a few mistakes and errors but the meaning will be conveyed.

However, if it is for anything else, you definitely need a two-step translation: translation by one qualified experienced native translator followed by a proofreading performed by a second qualified experienced native translator. If you think your agency is trying to catch you and get more money from you, think again: proofreading means that a second fully qualified translator compares the original document with the translated one, corrects anything, checks the spelling, meaning, punctuation, etc. guaranteeing a perfect finished product, pretty essential if you are going to use it in a presentation, brochures, official document, etc.

Translation is truly a worthwhile investment when you consider that 70 percent of Internet users aren’t native English speakers, and according to Common Sense Advisory  75 percent of Internet users do not make important purchasing decisions unless the product or service description is in a language they can speak, so make sure you get the right agency to help you so it pays back.

(Our next ‘Translation User Guide’ in this series will cover quality and deadline and have a look at formatting. All key parts to consider when ordering your work.)