The Three Steps of Accurate Language Translation
Living in the 21st century, we are more connected than ever to the rest of the world. With the click of a button, we can access articles and videos from the other side of the world. And with the click of another button, we can copy and paste foreign text into an automated translation device — like Google Translate — and have the basic gist of what those words meant.
But these free tools, while tempting, are not historically the most reliable, leaving many companies asking the question: “How can I be assured that my translations will be accurate?”
This is one of the most common questions in the language translation industry, and it is a legitimate concern. So much more goes into the translation process than the lay person realizes. Fortunately, this three-step process is a great way to help you rest assured that your documents and other media will be translated accurately.
Steps to Translations
Step 1: Sound Beginnings – Avoid Pitfalls
While many people may believe you don’t need a professional translator, you can just use Google Translate. This misconception can easily start a project on the wrong foot. Online translation programs use simple algorithms to replace a word from one language with its literal translation in another. It has little to no ability to be nuanced or to translate complex phrasing or idioms.
Services like Google Translate will often get the key words right, but even that isn’t 100% accurate. Translation by computers — also known as machine translation — can produce the following concerns: Machines are built to translate language as a commodity. It is programmed to view word meaning on a limited basis which is, not conducive to the way the human mind operates. A machine’s translation of a phrase or sentence often produces incoherent and awkward text. Example: The traditional Chinese translation of “Caution! Wet Floor” would be “Slip and Fall Down Carefully.” In the medical industry, this could translate to “disaster.” However, human cognition can handle varied interpretations of words, phrases, and sentence structure. The mind considers the totality of a sentence, or the sum of its parts.
In contrast, machines often treat each word as an individual whole regardless of the words that surround it. That’s why if your translation project will be representing your brand to an audience of current or prospective customers it’s important to engage a human who is adept at reading and writing in the target language and the source language. An accurate language translation service offering quality assurance will pull from a deep pool of experts whose translate into their respective native languages. The human element is key to the process running smoothly.
Step 2: Translating Content – Choose Your Writer Carefully
Not everyone who is bilingual is qualified to be a translator, at least not without a great deal of specialized training. While being bilingual is a good start, being a translator requires a mastery as a writer, not only of one language, but two. A translator must be adept at shifting nuanced language, while preserving clarity and complexity. It requires an-in-depth understanding of style and tone, as well as grammatical precision.
Unfortunately, just being bilingual alone simply isn’t enough. It’s important that your translator, or translation service provider, to have a firm grasp not only of the languages in use but of your company’s marketing message, unique selling proposition (USP) and target demographic. This will help them achieve the right tone and maintain the nuances of the content that are vital to your overall brand voice.
Step 3: You Can’t Be Too Careful- The Final Review
While a translation by a native speaker is a good start for ensuring accuracy, an editing process is also necessary to catch problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. The last thing you’ll want printed on materials that represent your company is a flaw. That’s why the final step, quality assurance, is a must for achieving accurate language translation. Even with an expert translator, who is adept at reading and writing in the languages being used, every writer needs an editor, and that is doubly true for translation. You may think that it’s enough for the writer to go through and edit as they translate, but it’s very difficult for most writers to edit their own work.
When one is reading their own work, it’s easy to gloss over words and miss omissions and errors. For this reason, the use of an editor is vital when you want accurate language translation. An editor will be able to read for clarity of meaning, as well as for grammar and punctuation.
An accurate language translation editor should include:
A native speaking translator offering a “second opinion” of the translation draft, finding errors and other types of inaccuracies in an effort to further clarify the document.
Technical prowess: The document is combed through and searched for grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors, further solidifying the quality of the translation.
A project manager, who oversees the entire project, finalizes the language translation to deliver an error-free document.
To preserve continuity for additional translations in the future these additional steps may also be taken:
Glossaries: Standardized terms and definitions of a company’s approved translations.
Style Guides: Creation of a template that maintains the image and voice of a company.
In-Country/In-House Review: Having a speaker of the target language on the client side review the translation.
Accurate language translation cannot be simplified like products and services of commodity. With the concepts, language rules, basic linguistic units, and other nuances of language translation, you’ll want to be sure that you can trust your translation service.
The three-step process of translation, editing, and proofreading ensure that the message you want to convey is the one being conveyed. Having answered so many questions, here’s one for you. With your company’s image at stake, why would you trust anything else?