The ABC of ordering a translation

After deciding it is worthwhile to translate your contents (see why here or here or here), how to go about it?

Let’s break down the process in a few simple steps.

1) How to find a translator

– Browsing the websites of translators and interpreters associations is a good way to find professionals who have already been vetted and work according to national/international standards: for instance, the directories of the two professional bodies I am a full member of – AITI, Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters and the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists – are an excellent starting point.

– But I also find words of mouth is always a good way of finding professional translators, and in general freelancers: if someone (a colleague, a friend, a work partner, a supplier) is willing to pass you the name of a translator, it means they were satisfied with the job done, and this is already a key point to take into consideration.

– Another way is browsing the websites dedicated to translation/language services and including translator profiles, such as ProZ. Or do a search on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter: for instance “Italian translator”, English Italian translator” “EN_IT translator” etc.

2) Which language services to choose

– Choose translation if you want to transfer a text from one language (known as original or source language) into another (known as target language) while preserving as much as possible the sense, style and register of the original.

– Choose transcreation for advertising or highly creative contents, or simply to create headlines which can capture the attention of your audience. Transcreation involves localised re-writing of texts, generally of a promotional nature, with the aim to create the same impact on the intended target as that of the message in the original language, adapting it to the tastes, culture and customs of the target audience and market. The result of transcreation work may differ considerably from the terminology and format of the original text, while adhering faithfully to its content, style and register.

– Choose revision if you want to check your already translated contents or your texts originated in the local language: a specialized look at your texts, involving style, register, grammar, typos and concordance will give you peace of mind. And it is also the last chance to avoid mistakes that can cost dearly.

3) How to get a quote

– Technical translations are usually quoted based on the number of words of the source text (the text to be translated), while revision is based on the number of words of the target or original text.

– Alternatively quotes can be based on an hourly rate or on a project rate, which is often the case with transcreation or complex projects involving various steps or different kinds of materials or requirements.

– To get a detailed quote, you need to send the translator the texts you want them to work on. Without seeing the text, it it impossible to get a precise cost estimate, as the translator need to evaluate volume, degree of complexity, urgency and first of all, if the texts fall within their expertise. Maximum confidentiality is of course guaranteed.

4) What to send the translator BEFORE starting the confirmed job

Now that you found your translator, got a quote and confirmed the job, besides the texts to work on, maybe you can send them further reference material. Why? To be able to get a general idea of what and who the texts are meant for, to be coherent with previously translated texts, to use approved terminology. A text is never a standalone piece of communication: it has a background, a target audience, a goal, and often it needs to match other similar texts in tone, terminology and register.

Any of the following documents would be helpful:

– a brief on the project: for instance, in case of promotional materials, the scope of the campaign, the target audience (gender, age group, country etc.), the response you want to solicit, the media you will use, the tone of voice you want to adopt (formal/informal, degree of informality etc.);

– use of the text: countries where it will be distributed, offline/online (the more specifics, the better);

– approved terminology (sector, company-specific), including frequently used technical terms, acronyms, preferences (e.g. company names are/are not translated in your company, or specific terms which need to be left in English);

– if available, brand standards, tone of voice guidelines, communication guidelines or similar documents;

– any other info you may think of that the translator should know or get to make a good job.

Translation is a specialized service and to get a professional result you require a specialized professional. By working with language and communication professionals such as translators, transcreators, revisers and terminologists, your brand/company/product language will be standardized, curated and applied coherently. A translator is a precious resource for your communication. Translators are language experts, but they are also much more than that today: they are terminologists, problem solvers, cultural and in-country advisers, communication enhancers and brand consultants – all rolled into one.

In a nutshell, a translator makes your life easier, while opening up new worlds of opportunities to your business.

About the author
laura-cattaneoI am an Italian specialist in marketing, creative and legal translation and editing. I put my many years of experience to the advantage of my clients by creating texts resonating with the Italian-speaking audience and making brands locally relevant. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or visit my website.