We all want to be impeccable in our professions and have our clients appreciate the services we offer them. It is one thing to want impeccable translations, and it is another thing to do nothing in ensuring that this is possible. What this means is that there is a difference between someone who wants top-notch translations while they don’t even try to offer great services and someone who offers fairly excellent services and still tries their level best to take that quality higher. It all depends on what kind of person you are.
In this article, we look at some things you can do as a translator, to improve your services, to make the translations you give your clients top-notch. I will outline a couple of pointers that will make this possible for you:
- Make sure you review the document(s) and files before starting a translation. Nothing shows how not serious someone is with their work, like not going through it first before you began working on it. Going through your work and reviewing it as the first thing will give you an idea of what exactly to expect. This helps in preparing you mentally and also making you aware of the route you will take in approaching the project. This will make the entire project a breeze for you. Approaching the unknown can be very daunting and stressful because you don’t know what you will meet and vice versa is very assuring and comforting because you are aware of how to handle everything prior.
- Make sure that you are comfortable with the subject and language style and confirm this with the Translation Project Manager. Different clients will come to you and want their files to be worked on in a certain way. The client knows what they want and you as the translator must be able to offer them this and take it further. Therefore, talk to the client or head of a project and let them make you aware of what they expect of you. Don’t jump into a project blindly and expect that it will be like the one you dealt with earlier on. You will be surprised by how different certain topics are approached, the different styles and formats clients might want, and so on and so forth. Make sure you are comfortable and that you can deliver before taking on a project.
- Make sure you are familiar with the file format. This is a very crucial tip that a lot of translators ignore. The same way there are different writing formats, is the same way translations have different written file formats. If a client approaches you with a particular file format and you are not familiar with it, let them know you are not familiar but you will look it up before you give your feedback. Translators will take on a job knowing very well the file format in question is a foreign concept because of greed they end up disappointing their clients. No one wants to go back and reformat a file that they paid someone to work on. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your client’s requests before you take on a Job.
- Use all reference materials, style guides, glossaries, and terminology databases. Imagine a client sending you defense materials that will actually make your work easier and you end up ignoring them because you feel you know better and that you are the professional. Always take advantage of any form of reference that your client has sent to you in order to make your work easier. The reason the glossary is sent to you is that you understand the terminologies your client is used to and wants you to be consistent with. Always make sure to not ignore this because if you ignore, chances are your translated texts won’t be at par with what your client wants and you will have to re-do the entire project.
- Contact your Translation Project Manager or client immediately if you encounter or foresee any problems with the document, format, word count or delivery time. Clients love working with translators who are efficient and dependable. If you are not aware, the translation industry is one that works around deadlines, and being able to deliver in time is such an outstanding trait. There are factors that might affect your delivery time and make sure to inform your client beforehand. You cannot be the person who informed their client that there is a problem with a script, or they won’t be able to meet a deadline one or two hours before the deadline. This is one way to annoy a client and get no work from them ever. Be sure to communicate anything that you deem important for your client to know.
- Identify relevant reference sources on the Internet for the subject you are going to translate. This falls much under research. Researching is very important for a translator. If you are not good at doing research, then you really have to work on it because how then will you be able to get more information on any technical topics that you might work on. This is how you are able to identify reference sources that will help you in translating on different technical topics. If you are translating medical devices, you will find some relevant material on related websites. Be sure that you know all these sources before you start your translation. Therefore, point number one is important, going through your documents before you begin with translation.
- When you have finished your translation, run your spell checker and correct any misspellings and typos. It is very important to go through your work and make sure it makes grammatical sense and that it doesn’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. Depending on whether your project will be forwarded to an editor before the client gets hold of it, be sure to go through your work early and edit where possible. This will also make your editor’s work really smooth because all they need to work on is changing the mistakes that you might have possibly missed and contextualizing the translated scripts compared to the original.
- Check your translation against the source for any missing text or formatting issues. This is more like proofreading scratch that it actually is proofreading. You need to get your original file and the translated file, compare them and try to see whether there is anything missing. Most CAT tools include QA features as the standard within their software. Each tool offers distinct features, but they all are good at detecting untranslated segments, source same as target, and even missing or wrong numbers. Be sure to use one that works well for you and ensure that your translated text and original text are at par in terms of content.
- Do not be literal. This should have been point number one because it is a really important point that all translators should know and get accustomed to. Never do a word-for-word translation for any document, this always takes away the context intended in the original document. As a translator, you should try your best to translate the meaning of the word into the other language and not the words into the other language. How a word is used in language A is the way of should be used in language B. Being literal in any form of translation can be noted by any individual who is a native in the language you are translating into. Avoid this as much as you can, actually avoid it completely.
- Be sure to run your spell checker again. It hurt no one to run a spell checker more than once. It takes time but it will save you if at all you had missed a spelling the first time. It will take a couple of minutes if everything is fine. A small typo may have been added during your revision stage and it would destroy all the quality steps you have carried out until now.
- Remember to include any notes or comments for your client or for the editors about your translation in your delivery file. Every time you send back your work to the client be sure to be a little conversational. Let them know how the project was, what was challenging, whether you enjoyed and what not. This showcases your character in such a great light and chances are the client would want to have you do another project when need be. This is how you make connections. It might be a first-time client, but that you seem nice and still professional and did a great translation on their files, will have you on their radar whenever they have more work.
All these points will definitely point you in the right direction. It gets really hard when you are starting out but when you get the feel of it and continue putting all these points into consideration, you will be surprised by how good your services become.