Finding the Perfect Translator

Finding the Perfect Translator

The world is full of translators; after all, translation and interpretation services is one of the fastest-growing industries across the globe. In an increasingly competitive economy, it’s tempting to go with the quickest and cheapest option for translation—but more often than not, cutting corners on translation causes more trouble down the road than it’s worth. However, how do you know if your translator is inexperienced and unqualified or if you’re genuinely getting a good deal? Below are a few characteristics of good translators that should help you narrow the field as you’re looking for a qualified linguist.

First, translators need to be native speakers of the target language. That means that if you’re translating a brochure from English to Spanish, don’t send it to a friend from your high school who lived in Mexico for a couple of years after college. “Native speaker” means they learned the language growing up and spoke it routinely—and still do. Even better, translators should still live or have recently lived in the target region for the translation, which helps them know the nuances of the language as well as current trends and terminology.

Second, a good translator is a good professional. Your translator should provide a clear and detailed price for the translation. He or she should quote you a deadline and should stick to it. If problems come up, a good translator will let you know right away so that adjustments can be made, if necessary. Your translator should respond to your comments or questions professionally and courteously—as well as in a timely manner.

Third, good translators use some kind of translation system that includes translation memory. This ensures that translations are consistent with one another. It also allows subsequent translations to be “autofilled” from previous translations—meaning that as your translator does more, similar translations for you, the price will likely decrease. A good translator will also work with you to create a glossary specifically for your translations, so that terms such as brand names, titles, or specified vocabulary is translated correctly across all files.

Finally, a good translator is a skilled and qualified linguist with the credentials to back it up. A bachelor’s degree is a good thing to look for, as well as evidence of education in writing or even degrees in translation specifically. A good translator should demonstrate work experience in translation and even provide references if desired. Additionally, good translators should have a specialization—some area of focus in which they are familiar with the language, terminology and style of writing (such as legal, medical, or literary translation).

These are only a few characteristics of good translators, but they’re a good start for consumers just starting the translation-buying process. Choosing a professional, qualified translator or a reputable translation agency can save both time and money in the long run. Don’t hesitate to ask your translator for their qualifications—a good translator will be happy to comply.

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