Here’s a little list for those translation buyers out there.
1. It takes more than a translator.
Great quality translations are the output of a team and really never from just one person. There are proofreaders and reviewers – a team that is used to working together using established quality controls and procedures.
2. Google Translate is dangerous.
Google Translate is fine if you want to get an idea of what a word means, of if you need help figuring out a letter or an email in another language. But be careful if you are trying to produce something in a language that is not your own – you cannot see when context is lost.
3. Bilingual colleagues or acquaintances can be more harmful than good.
Bilingual colleagues make great reviewers – especially when they have specific guidelines and they understand their role in the development process. But translators are not just bilingual people – they are specialized linguists. It’s kind of like going to a dentist for a broken leg. Sure, he might be able to help you. But you really need an orthopedist.
4. Backtranslations are not to be heavily relied upon.
If your backtranslation matches your English source, be worried. Backtranslations are useful for checking content – but not for checking the quality of a translation.
5. Shopping for the lowest bidder.
Just as with many things in life, you get what you pay for. Professional translators have a well-established market value. Low balling your projects will only ensure that quality is what gets sacrificed.
6. Switching translators.
When you switch translators, try to do this in a meaningful way. Try to pass on previous value created to the new translation team. Just as all people write differently, all translators translate differently.