Some Thoughts About The Document Translation Process

A translation services company has to continuously improve its processes, generate translations with the correct meaning, terminology and composition. They must also assure that those processes are in sync with the client’s internal reviewers (when applicable).

The translated document must convey the original message in the target language and, at the same time, it has to be appropriate for the culture of the country in question. In order to do so correctly, the professional translators and editors must be fluent in both the target and source languages and have extensive expertise in the subject matter. It goes without saying that the reviewer must also preserve the subtleties and the context of the message of the source language in the translation process.

The professional translation must also be corrected for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Professional linguists who are native speakers of the target language, who are also proficient in the source language, are required for judging the correctness of the composition.

The terminology should be the one used by actual practitioners in the field. Only a specialist in the relevant discipline has the familiarity to know the contemporary terminology used by the particular industry. It takes a business insider to know the internal jargon in each language. As per professional translation services best practices, the professional translation service provider should, from time to time, ask them for clarification or assistance in order to develop a comprehensive glossary of terms to maintain the integrity of the terminology.

In relation to style, professional certified translators must capture the style of the author of the source material when expressing the message in the target language. To choose among numerous possibilities, the certified translator must safeguard the primary need of faithfulness to the accuracy of the message while rewriting the document for the level of education and technical expertise of the target audience.

Sad but true, oftentimes professional translation services companies have to deal with unfinished or draft source material. Unfortunately, certified translators are under narrow constraints regarding the liberties they may take to improve a document sent for translation. We know that a translation will only be as good as the source material. If the source material leaves much to be desired, the translation will definitely suffer.

It is important to keep in mind that while the above may true for the professional translation service company, client reviewers are not under the same constraints. Thus, it is expected that client internal reviewers will review the material for the sake of style or added clarity, aside from changes in content. It is the role of the reviewers of the professional translation service company, using their knowledge of the subject and the needs of the users of the translation, to make all appropriate changes.

It is important to take into account that, in general, a majority of the changes made by reviewers are stylistic preferences, not necessarily corrections of errors. Therefore, as the number of reviewers increases, so does the number of changes based upon personal preferences. Remember, just as “Too many cooks can spoil the broth,” too many reviewers can spoil a document’s translation.

Legal Translation Solutions and its parent company, ASTA-USA Translation Services, Inc., have worked diligently at refining the professional language translation process since 1991.