The Need For Translation Service
- product manuals
- financial documents
- service offerings
- company policies
- clinical studies / medical reports
- technical specs
- annual reports
- intellectual property
- legal text
- religious text
As translation providers, we all know the importance of listening to our clients to make sure we are serving their best interests, but many companies leave out the vital step of educating clients about the translation industry and how our industry dynamics have an effect on their requests.
Clients often come to us with little or no information about the process involved in translating their projects. They may not understand the nuances of regional dialects, or the differences between a Spanish European and a Spanish Latin American translation. As the subject matter experts, we must bring these issues to the forefront to prevent problems or confusion after the project is completed. Not doing so, can result in the client realizing the particular translation they requested does not fit their needs.
Even though we ensure all clients that a translator and a separate editor have reviewed the project before delivery, many clients will still have an outside resource review the final project as well. Inevitably, the outside resource finds several “problems” with the translation, resulting in an unhappy client who assumes the project we delivered was full of mistakes.
In most cases, the changes found by an outside resource are strictly preferential changes. When someone is asked to review any written document for mistakes, there is an inherent, and often unconscious, need to find improvements. Native speakers are typically extremely prideful about the correctness of their language, but may not be trained linguists, or subject matter experts in the content translated.
It is very important to explain to all clients prior to beginning a project that translation is an art, as well as a skill, and there is a subjective element to every translation. Explaining this fact at the outset, gives clients a framework of understanding, and they are far less likely to assume preferential changes are mistakes.
Jacqueline Galofaro, Epic Translations Project Manager
The advent of technologies enabling the recording of translation patterns for later use (translation memories) can be a definite benefit for all parties involved. For the Client, future projects can be made less expensive while the translation company saves time on projects and can increase volume.
Without getting too technical, this specialized software targets “segments” of words or phrases or sentences and stores them for later use. It stores the source text and the target language in pairs that are known as “translation units” in our industry.
Yet not all types of translations can truly benefit from the use of memories. The software is most suited for translating technical documents. Industries needing translations of a technical sort inevitably come with their own specific terminologies and verbiage. Having memories ready ensures consistency between projects and within large projects. Essentially the translator only has to translate a term once.
This speeds up the process and reduces costs. Many manuals, for instance, have redundant “standard” text that appears throughout. This is translated once and added as the project moves along where it appears.
You the Client may not see these savings initially but will surely see them on subsequent projects involving the same subject matter.
As I mentioned before, Translation Memory is best suited for technical translation where the content is standardized and straightforward using industry-specific verbiage. In less technical translations, TM is less effective because our translation pros are working to get the context of the message correct, not the component sentences (translation units). Basically this boils down to it not being the most effective tool for localization of your material.
Present TM managers do not support ALL file types, creating delivery issues. TM software can also be expensive (up to $2500) and learning how to use them is time-consuming. For the Translation Company and translators, managing memory content is a manual task and upkeep can become hard to keep up with keeping the manager up to date during busy months. Also, quality control becomes even more of an issue and editing all-important. Why? If a TM gets through the editing process and it is incorrect or partial, then the error will be perpetuated in later projects.
While the benefits of using T Memories are very clear, they are not the end-all without limitations. Companies that are in need of translations that aren’t overly technical shouldn’t expect a huge savings over time…or at least not as much as their more technical counterparts. Whether memories play you’re your project or not, seeking long-term relationships with a translation company that matches your requirements is still the way to go. Even if you can’t make full use of translation memories, you will still benefit from familiarity, customized service and expedited project management.
Here at Epic Translations, we are compatible with several translation memory managers, including Trados. We invite you to try out our services as we continue to establish profitable long-term vendor/client relationships with forward-thinking companies.
One way to make the concept of quality easier to deal with for linguists, is to divide it up into four parts: administrative quality, linguistic quality, business quality and cultural quality. International quality standards focus mostly on administrative quality, since it is the easiest to measure. Linguistic quality is the most important for language professionals. Business quality is defined as the relation to the customer, and cultural quality is when a translation speaks to the end customer/reader. All four are important for linguists and warrant further investigation.
Routines for handling translation projects, inquiry, offer, order confirmation, translation, control/check, delivery, invoicing, follow up, archiving.
Linguistic quality can only be achieved if you:
– Only accept projects that are within your expertise
– Have access to suitable, current reference material
– Use relevant tools that increase quality, for example translation memory and spell checking
– Proofread the end result carefully
Business quality can only be achieved if you:
– In advance check with the customer what they want/what is needed
– Deliver a product that fulfill the terms agreed upon
Cultural quality can only be achieved if you:
– Are thoroughly familiar with the cultural context of the source text
– Translate the text based on the cultural environment of the target language so that the text will have the same meaning.
I found these definitions very useful. It is easier to work on quality assurance if you can break it up into these aspects and follow them. What do you think? Do you have a system for linguistic quality assurance?
Authored By: The Swedish Association for Professional Translators
By José Lázaro da Silva
I have worked as a professional translator for over twenty years in São Paulo, Brazil, and sometimes I feel that the translation work is not what it used to be.
In the good old days, a translator would receive a full text of a report, article or communication and would try to produce an exact version of the piece in the other language. By having the entire original, the translator would be able to understand the matter very deeply.
In the case of a contract, he would know whether the translation requestor would be the seller or the buyer, and would know whether the contract was to be used in a single transaction or would be a template for all customers. The translator would be able not only to produce the most convenient translation considering those differences, but also to send useful suggestions to the requestor about changes to make the contract more advantageous, or at least less prone to misinterpretation.
This situation of having a full text to translate, fortunately, has not completely disappeared from our reality. I sometimes get a full text and have that satisfaction of being able to do a good, or even excellent, job.
But this ideal situation is becoming rare. What is happening now is that each translator usually gets only a fraction of the original.
Sometimes it is a matter of urgency, and the final customer cannot wait the time it takes a translator to produce 100 pages, and then 10 translators are called to do 10 pages each.
The result will come ten times sooner, but I hope the customer has been duly forewarned that the quality will be somewhat lower. Each translator may have translated in a different way that highly important document name, process name, or project name. The reader (if nobody has made nomenclature adjustments for the entire translation) will wonder whether chapter one and chapter two are talking about different matters or the same thing.
Splitting an original to various translators, in my opinion, is not the worst source of problems, however.
In this age of high-speed computers and cheap memories, agencies are storing huge numbers of words and expressions and their translations into several languages.
The result is that agencies feel that they no longer have to pay translators to translate full texts. They command computers to translate everything they can and send to human translators only what their systems cannot handle.
I have noticed this development occur with an agency for which I had worked for many years. They started sending me isolated paragraphs, sometimes loose sentences, instead of full documents.
Partial Translations of texts was more troublesome, due to the lack of sufficient context, but most importantly because the small pieces had a high rate of rare words and difficulties in general. The only thing I could do was to tell them that, to translate uncontextualized sentences and phrases, I would have to charge more. They offered to triple my per-word rate. With computers doing the bulk at virtually no cost, no wonder they could make me that offer.
Of course, I accepted the triple-play offer, but sometimes I wonder whether all the small translated pieces really match the texts they will be inserted into. I do my best to guess the contexts but, without reading the entire original, I can never be sure. Language is something unpredictably varied, and grammar, as well as meaning, are aspects that play important factors incorrectly matching loose bones to create a skeleton. If the matching of the little pieces is done by a clerk, not a skilled linguist, mismatches will occasionally be visible to the readers, and that can be sufficient reason for the final client to start looking for another translation agency.
Many translators, maybe most, are concerned that their profession will not last many years. They have been following the progress of machine translation and believe that sooner or later computers will translate with a quality comparable to that of a professional translator, and at lower costs, thus bringing unemployment to all human translators. Are they excessively pessimistic? Is there a limit to the quality that computers will be able to achieve?
Most translation programs are already able to translate texts where what is required are simple word replacements plus adherence to grammar rules for word positioning and verb endings.
Are those translations good enough? If you do not require a high-quality text and will be happy if you can understand the basic ideas of the text, the translation will be accepted, especially if you consider that you can get it at no cost through the internet.
If the original text is not so simple, and has some less common expressions, or uses words with their secondary meanings, then the translation may, at some points, provoke some laughs. (Maybe that is not a disadvantage at all but an advantage since most Hollywood comedies nowadays make us think about social problems rather than laugh about them!)
Machine translation designers have been expanding databases in the hope that the translations will near perfection if computers are fed with millions of expressions. However, that is only partly true.
A good translation does not depend only on recognizing expressions and translating them. The translator either the human translators or machine translation must understand the ideas behind the words. The reason for this necessity is that many words have more than one meaning, and, therefore, more than one translation in a foreign language. Thus, the only way to translate such words correctly is by understanding the context. (For example, the Brazilian word manga is either a sleeve or a mango, depending on whether we are talking about clothes or about fruits).
So far no one has tried to make computers really “understand” anything. When a computer reads “I have killed my mother” it has no idea whether that was a bad action or a praiseworthy action. There are ways to teach computers to understand and judge what they read, but as far as I know, nobody has started research on this. It would be a mighty task, since the computer’s vocabulary would have to be complete with definitions usable by the machine, including word ratings in terms of goodness, advantage, etc.
As a translator, I would be pleased to take part in that sort of project, even if its success can someday doom my profession!
Humans, please comment before machines start sending in their ideas!
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Software-developments as windows 7.0 places translators for an exciting challenge
About software localization
While working in the software localization field for a big IT company, I figured out how sometimes translators can’t avoid bad translation renderings. I found out that About software localization strings are translated out of context, the mainly visual context in this case. Once the translation was passed onto engineers, ‘words’ were assembled to the software itself and just a quality review used to follow this stage of the process. At this stage, translators were not allowed to correct so many things (as the main work was already done), while, instead, a lot of errors were spotted when words were finally associated to menus, windows, etc.
Someone said that the translator is a rational agent aware of and controlling his actions and that he/she surrenders to external coercion only if his/her reason decides that it is the wisest thing to do.
I don’t agree with such an out-of-date and topical thinking.