Qualities to Look for in a Professional Translation Service

Professional Translation Service
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Translation is a complex task and involves far more than the ability to speak another language. The translator’s ability to understand nuance, interpret meaning, and provide translations that make sense for the reader are critical to your success.

For example, if your essential documents aren’t translated accurately, you could lose clients, cause health issues, and experience legal trouble down the line. Thus, any professional translation service you hire should provide your company with high-quality, accurate translations.

If you have customers, clients, patients, or employees that communicate in languages other than English, your business or organization needs interpreting and translation services. Of course, it’s not a good idea to simply hire the first professional translation service you come across. However, if you’ve never had to select a professional translator in the past, you may not know what qualities to look for.

5 Considerations for Hiring a Translation Service

Considerations for Hiring a Translation Service

Depending on the needs of your business or organization, the best professional translation service for you can vary. However, there are some major qualities that set a high-quality, reliable translator apart from those providing inadequate services.[1]Tenzer, H., Terjesen, S. & Harzing, AW. Language in International Business: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Manag Int Rev 57, 815–854 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11575-017-0319-x Here are important considerations regarding hiring a professional translation service:

1. If You’re Working on a Specialized Project, Consider Hiring a Specialized Provider

If you view translation solely as someone creating a word-for-word translation of a document without any nuance, you may not understand why a general translator isn’t sufficient for every project. If you’d like to get the most accurate translation of your document, it’s a good idea to seek a translation service that specializes in your industry.

This is especially true if you’re a part of a highly complex or technical field like healthcare, manufacturing, or legal services.[2]Zeifert, M., Tobor, Z. Legal Translation Versus Legal Interpretation. A Legal-Theoretical Perspective. Int J Semiot Law (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11196-021-09837-7 If the translator lacks a basic understanding of the skills and knowledge involved to review data from your industry, this could lead to inaccurate or hard-to-understand translations.

2. Always Pay Close Attention to a Translation Provider’s Certifications and Accreditations

Don’t assume that every translation service you find has received the training and education needed to become a great translator. Anyone can begin referring to themselves as a “translator,” but not every person has the ability or commitment needed to receive important certifications.

There are multiple types of translation certifications available. Look for certifications such as an ISO 171002 (to ensure high-quality translations), ISO 90013 (for superb quality management), or ISO 280014 (for information security).

Certifications are even more critical if you’re in a complex or specialized industry, where accurate and precise translations are essential. Some fields, such as finance or pharmaceuticals, are even subject to regulatory approval for translations.[3]Razmus, W., & Laguna, M. (2018). Dimensions of Entrepreneurial Success: A Multilevel Study on Stakeholders of Micro-Enterprises. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 791. … Continue reading Hiring a certified and accredited professional translation service can ensure that you’re working with someone that meets the standards set by your industry.

3. Consider Whether the Translation Service Uses Human or Machine Translation

Translation services can be performed by a human, a machine, or a combination of the two. However, when it comes to professional translation, computers can only do so much.[4]Brown PF, Cocke J, Della Pietra SA, Della Pietra VJ, Jelinek F, Lafferty JD, et al. A statistical approach to machine translation. Comput Linguist 1990;16(2):79–85. If you’d like to receive the most accurate and fluent translations possible, you should stick with human translators.[5]Chen, X., Acosta, S., & Barry, A. E. (2017). Machine or Human? Evaluating the Quality of a Language Translation Mobile App for Diabetes Education Material. JMIR diabetes, 2(1), e13. … Continue reading When you’re working with critical documents or any materials that will be presented to the public, it’s crucial that you use human translators.

When you partner with a qualified linguist, that individual will have an in-depth understanding of how both languages’ grammar and idioms function in written work. This also means that the translator can use discretion to determine the most effective and reliable translation. Written documents or materials that were translated by a human can also feel more authentic than those translated by a machine. The process of interpreting certain subject matter isn’t always straightforward, and a literal translation may sound stiff or unnatural in another language.

There’s no room for error or unclear translations when you’re working with documents from specialized industries. The only way to ensure accuracy and readability in your translations, specialized or otherwise, is to hire a service provider that uses exclusively human translation.

4. Consider Researching the Translation Company’s References

If a professional translation service provider is experienced and reputable, they should have a list of client references they can show to you. This list of references should demonstrate the quality of the translator’s past work and show that they have considerable experience in the field.[6]Morgado, A. V. (2018). The Value of Customer References to Potential Customers in Business Markets. Journal of Creating Value, 4(1), 132–154. https://doi.org/10.1177/2394964318771799 It’s always wise to take it a step further by reaching out to the translator’s past clients whenever possible. While looking over an extensive reference list can be reassuring, it won’t provide you with the full picture.

Instead, speak directly with the past clients to gauge whether they were satisfied with the translation services they received. Start by contacting clients in your industry or clients who have requirements similar to your own. The objective should be to identify translators who have built experience with companies in your industry or companies who have a similar globalization maturity, company size, and language needs.

5. Make Sure You’ll Be Receiving Efficient and Timely Translation Services

When you’re in need of professional translation services, chances are, you can’t wait months for the job to be completed. For that reason, before you start working with a particular translation service, you should be confident that they can provide timely and efficient translations.

With human translation services, it’s important to note that the standard delivery time for a project can vary. Acceptable delivery times depend largely on the scope of the project, including content, size, and formatting requirements. However, this should be clear when you discuss the project with your translation service.

Most notably, you should never use machine translation when you’re working with medical, legal, or other highly technical documents.[7]Randhawa, G., Ferreyra, M., Ahmed, R., Ezzat, O., & Pottie, K. (2013). Using machine translation in clinical practice. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 59(4), 382–383. Fortunately, as a professional translation service, Telelanguage offers emergency and rush services to our clients.

Professional Translation Services by Telelanguage

Professional Translation Services

Telelanguage only works with professional translators who have native fluency in English, as well as fluency in the target language. We require our translators to have a minimum of two years’ experience dealing with written translation. They must also prove their expertise in one of our specialized subjects or industries like medicine, pharmaceuticals, law, social services, education, and more.

When you work with Telelanguage, you never need to worry that your translator won’t have a strong grasp of the context or terminology specific to your field. We also believe in the importance of digital literacy and the tools that can boost translation work.

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published May, 2017 and has been updated Feb, 2022.

References

References
1 Tenzer, H., Terjesen, S. & Harzing, AW. Language in International Business: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Manag Int Rev 57, 815–854 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11575-017-0319-x
2 Zeifert, M., Tobor, Z. Legal Translation Versus Legal Interpretation. A Legal-Theoretical Perspective. Int J Semiot Law (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11196-021-09837-7
3 Razmus, W., & Laguna, M. (2018). Dimensions of Entrepreneurial Success: A Multilevel Study on Stakeholders of Micro-Enterprises. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 791. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00791
4 Brown PF, Cocke J, Della Pietra SA, Della Pietra VJ, Jelinek F, Lafferty JD, et al. A statistical approach to machine translation. Comput Linguist 1990;16(2):79–85.
5 Chen, X., Acosta, S., & Barry, A. E. (2017). Machine or Human? Evaluating the Quality of a Language Translation Mobile App for Diabetes Education Material. JMIR diabetes, 2(1), e13. https://doi.org/10.2196/diabetes.7446
6 Morgado, A. V. (2018). The Value of Customer References to Potential Customers in Business Markets. Journal of Creating Value, 4(1), 132–154. https://doi.org/10.1177/2394964318771799
7 Randhawa, G., Ferreyra, M., Ahmed, R., Ezzat, O., & Pottie, K. (2013). Using machine translation in clinical practice. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 59(4), 382–383.

About Hayley Emmons

Director of Contracting Hayley has been with Telelanguage since 2016. She implements language services from contract negotiations through account set-up. Hayley oversees proposal development, business development, and contract management. In addition, Hayley develops content and graphics for Telelanguage's various web and marketing platforms.