Rule 1

Provide sufficient information to enable selection of the most appropriate translator

Your point of contact with a translation company is usually a person known as a project manager (a translation coordinator or sales representative in other cases). Keep in mind that they do not do the actual translation. One of their important roles is to assign a translator who is most appropriate for the project at hand; important because this is one of the major elements that decide the quality of a translation.

Project managers are well-acquainted with the realms of expertise and defining characteristics of hundreds of translators. Therefore, it is important that you communicate sufficient information to enable the project manager to make the right decision regarding the assignment of a translator. The information that a translation company wants to receive from you are primarily the following (we will touch upon other beneficial information that can be provided later in this section).

  • Content of the document
  • Target readers
  • Purpose of the document
  • Desired image of the finished translation

Communicate the General Content of the Document

No project manager would be so foolish to ask a translator whose forte is pharmaceuticals to translate something in the IT field. However, it will be highly effective if you can provide the project manager with some information describing the essence of the document to be translated.

For example, “The topic is telecommunications, but to be more specific, it is about mobile telephony,” or, “It is an installation manual for a business package, but it is primarily about networks.”

Be sure to provide as much information as you can to help the project manager make the decision about which translator - one whose strength is in a certain field, one who has experienced certain translations, and so on - to assign.

Communicate Who the Target Readers Are

A translation related to pharmaceuticals will differ in style, according to whether it is directed towards medical professionals or general consumers. There are translators who are skilled in writing translations geared toward specialists, and others who are good at explaining things in a way that is easy for even beginners to understand. Translation styles will also differ according to whether the target is adults or children. Be sure to clearly communicate to the project manager who your target readers are.

Communicate the Purpose of the Document

Sometimes, the assignment of translators differs depending on the purpose of a document. For example, in a translation in the field of IT, a translator with a very good writing style would be assigned to a press release while a translator with expert technical knowledge would be assigned to a manual. Meanwhile, if a translation is to be used as recorded narration, as opposed to print, a translator with strengths in colloquial styles would be assigned. Be sure to clearly communicate how the translation will be used.

Such information will also be useful to a project manager when tradeoff has to be considered for reasons of budget or delivery schedules.

For example, in the case of a project with a tight budget, the project manager may decide to use a less expensive translator depending on the purpose of the document. In other cases, the project manager may assess that it is not possible to divide work up among several translators even if the schedule is tight.

Share Your Image of the Finished Translation

Sometimes, we cannot help but think (or comment), “Oh, is that what you really wanted?” after delivering a translation. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes there is a difference between what the translation company thought and what the client expected. Sharing your image of the finished product in advance with project managers and translators will help prevent such surprises from occurring. How, then, can you go about sharing your image of the finished translation?

The most certain way is to give samples. If you are asking for the translation of a pamphlet, you could provide a pamphlet of an in-house product that can be used as reference or find the pamphlet of another company that you want yours to be like.

If you do not have any samples to provide, then at least communicate your image verbally. For example, “We want it to reach readers, but at the same time, we want it to be straightforward.”

Back to Top