The United States Census Bureau reports that 21.6% of the population, or 1 in 5 people, speak a language other than English at home.
There are few arenas of work where making sure language and text are understood accurately as important as in the government sector. Government departments and agencies of all levels have a duty to their citizens to ensure order, fairness, and equality are maintained regardless of the languages spoken by the people they govern. Now, more than ever, societies benefit from being multicultural and having the influences of other countries and other cultures.
If getting detailed government documentation correct in English is a painstaking task, making sure it’s authentically translated into other languages can be a difficult prospect. Whether it’s treaties and international agreements or immigration papers, sworn statements, and audio transcripts, the process and end result have to be totally accurate.
As a Language Services Provider (LSP), it’s our job to help our clients, which include areas of the government, through this process.
In this article, we’ll share the most important things we’ve learned while working with governments to ensure translations are successful.
Subject Matter Knowledge
Like all industries, government agencies and departments have their own specific needs. These nuances and idiosyncrasies are best learned by having direct involvement in public sector work.
When engaging with an LSP, make sure you ask them about the specific translators working on your documents.
Get an understanding of their subject matter knowledge, their experience dealing with official documents, and what departments they’ve supported in the past.
A good translation isn’t just changing words from one language to another. A good translation is done with an understanding of the context of the need the document is addressing. In government situations, they’ll often fall into subcategories such as legal, financial, non-profit, or other industries.
The linguist needs to know what kind of parties are involved in the document, how the translation will be used, and any other pertinent information. They can then use the best tone, formality, and choice of words to successfully translate the content.
Legalities Of Using External Suppliers And Onboarding
There may be certain documentation that a third party can't translate. It may be of a level that needs to have engagement directly with a government translation source.
It’s not common, but when translating a category of document for the first time, it’s worth making sure an external LSP can be engaged.
Security And Confidentiality
One of the processes you’ll need to understand from your LSP is how they deal with confidential, secure, or sensitive information.
You’ll probably have your own procedures, documentation, NDAs, contracts, and whatever else is needed to clear external partners.
The LSP will also have a way of working, which might vary from industry to industry, to protect information being translated.
Understand The Quality Assurance (QA) Process
Any good LSP will wear their QA process on their sleeve and be proud of it. Make sure you know what it is, how it works, and who is involved.
After all, you don’t speak the target language, so how do you know the translation is accurate? You really don’t want to find out when it’s pointed out to you at a later date, potentially putting you in a compromising or legally difficult situation.
This is one of the huge advantages of working with an LSP, who can bring a roster of linguists to the table, as opposed to just hiring a translator. This third-party checking flags areas of disagreement and has a process through to resolution, which ultimately verifies the translation as accurate.
Okay, it may not be a requirement, but prepping for future languages as you go through the process of translating from English into this first language is an important one. There is groundwork that you have to do for any translation, which requires time and investment. Done with a long-term view, a lot of this groundwork can be reused in future language considerations.
Starting a glossary or term base, which contextually stores translated words and terms for future use, or training Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled Machine Translation (MT) tools to help with the groundwork of further translations in that language are a couple of good ways to make the most of any investment in translation.
The number one thing you can do to improve your chance of a successful translation, regardless of the type of document (or any form of media for that matter), is to partner with a good LSP. They’ll provide the support and infrastructure. They’ll form and execute the plan. They’ll be there when any issue arises, and chances are they’ve seen it before.
A good relationship with your LSP means you’ll have linguistic experts with experience in government translation working for you, in a safe and confidential way, making sure target language material is accurate and guiding you to put the building blocks in place for your future needs.
Get A Quote For Your Government Document Translation Needs
Should you represent a governmental entity in need of translation services, we are eager to discuss your requirements.
We offer complimentary consultations, with zero commitment required.
With Lingualinx by your side, rest assured your message retains its essence during translation. Our credentials, including ISO 17100 and ISO 9001 compliance, combined with two decades of translation expertise, stand as a testament to our global reliability and proficiency.
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