During the translation process, it is not uncommon to come upon errors in the English/source content. These errors may include typos, missing content, duplicated content, missing footnotes, etc. One of the deliverables and delighters that we return to clients is the pdf of the source English content with these errors marked. Of course, we’re correcting them in the target language translation as well during the translation process.
Recently, when an English pdf was returned to the client with the errors marked and highlighted, the client exclaimed “You are kidding me? I am so embarrassed. We proofed and proofed here.” However, we explained that there is no need to be embarrassed because the translation process should improve the source content if the translator is being thorough and if project management is detailed and looks to add extra value to the client. There must be processes in place to achieve this though and it has to be part of the culture of the language service provider. Make sure your language service provider is a partner in your success.
Translation Process and steps in place to add value to the source content
- Project management works with regular teams of professional translators. You’d be surprised to read how many translation companies farm out their work to the lowest bidding translator. We see great value in working with regular teams because they get to know our expectations of them during the translation process and how we serve our clients best. We also have a commitment to our translators to help them succeed in business so it’s a win win for them if we invest in their training, support and desire to grow their business. Because of that value placed on the relationship, we are a true team committed to the success of the client and our translators are then more likely to come back to us and comment when an error is found in the source. Many translators may not do this because it takes additional time to do so. They may just choose to correct it in the translation and move on. The business model of the professional translator is usually based on a cost per word model so it’s in their interest to keep moving on and not increase the additional time in the overall translation process which leads us to the next important step.
- Pay translators an hourly rate and have them proof the typeset files. This QA step is an important one and should be a documented and regular step in the process. When we hand off the typeset files to the client and they are ready to go to print, we assume the liability of that project…not the client. We ensure that all QA processes have been completed and a translator should not be expected to do that for free. Some translation companies do expect translators to work for free but do you really think a translator would do a thorough job if they are not being paid for their time? In addition to the translator doing the proof of the typeset file (following a checklist of steps to standardize the proof), we also proof it in house (print and screen) for format and compare it against the English to ensure that all styles are the same (bold, italics, number of paragraphs, etc), punctuation is correct, no strange hyphenations, etc. Having these steps in place ensures that the final typeset files are ready to go to print without errors.
- Preflight process in place ensures that the source content is read before it goes to Translation. This is the value of good project management: the documentation of a process in which the source content is read when it is prepared for translation. The intent of the preflight process by project management at this early stage in preparation is to identify areas in the source that may need additional clarification from the client for context, explanation or to ask if there is a preferred term being used in in the industry. The preflight process, if done by project management in a detailed way also finds errors in the source and brings those to the attention of the client.
- Use of Translation Memory technology highlights differences in source content from previous writing. If a client has sent in content before for translation and a Translation Memory has been established, the use of this technology when preparing new content for translation, can be utilized to find differences in the source from the way it was previously written to the way it is currently written. Because we specialize in healthcare translations, we often find differences in legal lines, medical claims, brand sensitive claims, etc and this is always pointed out to the client and subsequently often changed to be consistent with past materials. Our goal is to protect the client’s brand and not to dilute the brand.
If you are deciding on a new language service provider, you may want to evaluate the value that you would get out of these processes. If you want to evaluate your current relationship with your language service provider, look at the deliverables you receive and evaluate whether you are truly working as a team and your provider is working with your success in mind.