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1. What makes a good translation?
2. Can I have an impact on the quality of the translation?
3. What is the daily output of a translator?
4. What can I expect from a good translator?
5. What should I look out for when choosing a translator?
6. How much will my translation cost?
7. How long will my translation take?
8. Why can't I just use a free machine translation tool such as GoogleTranslate?
9. One of our employees is bilingual. Surely, she can do the translation, can't she?
10. What does the translation process involve?
11. Why does my translation take so long to complete? Can't you just split it up between several translators?
12. What is the difference between computer-aided translation (CAT) and machine translation (MT)?
13. What quality control procedures do you have in place?
14. Can you provide me with a translated document that will look the same as the original?



1. What makes a good translation?


A good translation flows naturally and the text shows no signs of having been transferred into another language. It conveys the original message across the linguistic and cultural barriers separating writer and reader and evokes the same images and ideas as the source text. A good translation is the result of well-coordinated teamwork between translators and reviewers to ensure a high-quality product.

2. Can I as a buyer have an impact on the quality of the translation?


Yes, as the first step in the translation process always consists of interpreting the source text. You may be able to facilitate this process by checking your document for ambiguities and inconsistencies before submitting it for translation. This ensures you get the best possible product – and saves you time and money.

3. What is the daily output of a translator?


This depends on a variety of factors, such as the language combination, the level of difficulty, the target audience and the intention of the text. When dealing with straight forward English to German market research questionnaires the translator may well manage around 2,500 words per day. In contrast advertising texts that need adapting to fit the cultural context and require a much more creative approach, the daily output can easily drop below a 1,000 words.

4. What can I expect from a good translator?


Goods translators are highly skilled professionals who are deeply rooted in both source and target culture. They are familiar with the specific terminology used and aware of social, political and historic factors that render the use of certain terms inappropriate. In short: They fully understand the emotional context of a word. Above all, good translators ask questions!

5. What should I look out for when choosing a translator?


Unlike medicine or law, translation is not a regulated profession, but translators are hoping that this will change one day. Some people working as translators are neither suitably qualified nor sufficiently experienced, so here is a guide on what to look out for: Your translator should have a qualification in translation, e.g. Dip Trans IoL (UK) or Diplom-Übersetzer (Germany) or a degree in Translation Studies and several years’ experience in his or her field of specialisation. Some translators have a degree and practical experience in the field they specialise in, in addition to their translation qualification, giving them a deeper understanding of their subjects. Some translators specialise in engineering, others in medicine, some in marketing etc. Others may specialise in several fields, but you should be cautious if an individual translator claims they do “all subjects”.

6. How much will my translation cost?


The cost of a translation depends on the nature of the text, its length, subject matter and any additional services that may be required such as checking the typeset document. The standard is to charge per word or per line. Special formatting requirements and tight deadlines typically incur an extra charge.

7. How long will my translation take?


This depends on various factors: the length of the document, the content and complexity of the text and the formatting requirements. On average, a translator manages around 2,000 words per working day, including proofreading.

8. Why can't I just use a free machine translation tool such as GoogleTranslate?


Due to the inherent complexity of language and despite recent innovations, even the most sophisticated systems cannot produce flawless translations without – often extensive – editing by human experts. This Situation is unlikely to change in the near future. Automated translation tools may be useful in terms of conveying the gist of a text, i.e. if you want to read a review on Tripadvisor that was posted in a language you don’t speak, but if you need a flawless translation that needs to impress your customers or generate new ones – let the “real” language experts to the work!

9. One of our employees is bilingual. Surely, she can do the translation, can't she?


Translation is an acquired skill. It involves the expression of ideas, conceived within the framework of a distinct culture and a specific field, in another language so that a new audience receives exactly the same message. This skill can only be acquired through years of practice after an individual has acquired the respective qualifications.

10. What does the translation process involve?


The translation process involves the initial preparation – checking of formatting requirements, terms, glossaries, company policy etc. as well as the actual translation, including the researching of facts and terminology, and the elimination of ambiguous text by checking with the customer. The translation will then be revised by a second linguist and then goes back to the original translator for final proofreading.

11. Why does my translation take so long to complete? Can't you just divide it up between several translators?


When assigning individual portions of a translation project to different translators, careful coordination is required if inconsistency is to be avoided. Glossaries and style sheets must be prepared to make sure that what was called a "questionnaire" on page 2 is not called a "screener" on page 25, or that 4" are not converted to 102mm in section 1 and to 10.2cm in section 7. Upon completion, all project documentation must go through a final stage of proofreading to check for consistency of terminology, style, completeness and accuracy. Furthermore, the accurate placement and captioning of graphics needs to be verified. In short, it is a process that takes time.

12. What is the difference between computer-aided translation (CAT) and machine translation (MT)?


CAT tools are terminology management systems with a translation memory, i.e. a database of previous translations that help the translator to identify terms and phrases used in the past. Such tools help to improve consistency in translation projects and represent a true quality gain. Machine translation (MT) tools, on the other hand, are applications that analyse a source text, divide it up into its individual elements, translate these elements and put them back together in the target language. Whether MT technology will ever be able to compete with the adaptability and creativity of the human mind is questionable. While it may be useful for translating individual terms or simple sentences – to get a general idea about the content – it ignores the fact that language is dynamic, often ambiguous and does not always follow set rules. The results of MT use are thus often far from satisfactory.

13. What quality control procedures do you have in place?


All translations are checked and double-checked by the original translator. A second linguist revises the translation and raises any queries with the translator. The translation then goes back to the original translator for a final honing. Please see Quality Assurance for further details.

14. Can you provide me with a translated document that will look the same as the original?


Of course! In addition, we can supply translated documents in a variety of customised formats. If you have special typesetting requirements, just let us know.

For more information on how to get a high-quality translation please visit the following link, a very useful guide for translation buyers:
Translation – Getting it Right.