The goal of translation is to produce written text in the target language which accurately conveys the details, tone and intention of the original without any hint of ‘foreignness’. A good translation seems to the readers as if it had originally been written in their own language.
In the UK, translation is generally charged per 1000 words. Prices will depend on subject area, language combination and on the purpose for which the translation will be used. In nearly all cases, translations should be proofread by a third party.
Where do I find a competent translator or agency?
For most purpuses we would recommend that commercial companies work through a translation agency. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting has a list of members who are all qualified translators or interpreters or who are reputable translation agencies. This list can be accessed free of charge by clicking here. http://www.iti.org.uk
Individuals or small businesses with one-off translation may be better off contacting a translator directly. For translations into Dutch you can contact Marjolein Turner-Prins by emailing email@example.com or by phoning 0845 163 7673. If you are an individual or small business looking to work directly with us, please read the rest of this page.
Things to remember when commissioning a translation
What will the translation be used for?
The style, word choice, phrasing and sentence length of any text will vary depending on where it will appear and what you want it to achieve. Telling the agency or the translator what the translation will be used for will therefore help to ensure that your translation will meet your requirements.
Translators distinguish between translations for information purposes and translations for publishing purposes. A translation for information purposes only is a translation that will be accurate, but have an unpolished style. You may be able to get a discount or a very fast turnaround for a translation for information purposes only. This is recommended only for translations that only you will be reading, for example when trying to understand articles or documents written in a foreign language.
Most translations will be for publishing purposes: the translation serves to communicate information to someone other than the commissioner of the translation. Again, this means you will need a style and tone that is appropriate. When commissioning a translation for publishing purposes, you will need to make clear whether you expect the translation you receive to be proofread, or whether you will arrange this separately. Proofread translations may need some editing before you publish them, in order to adapt the text to its intended audience.
Translations of official documents such as passports, diplomas and certificates, often have to be certified. If you need a certified translation, you will need to indicate this when commissioning the translation.
Queries from the translator
Translators are extremely careful readers, and in many translation assignments translators will identify typing errors or sentences that are unclear. Good translators will ask their clients for clarification of anything that is unclear in the text. The best way of solving these queries is by the translator contacting the client to ask for clarification before the translation is produced. When commissioning a translation, it is therefore advisable to have a contact person ready to answer any queries the translator comes up with.
Sometimes this is not possible, for example when working with extremely tight deadlines, and the translator will add footnotes pointing out any uncertainties or unsolved problems. Generally, later adjustment of translations in the light of these footnotes is not charged for above the agreed rate.
Many grateful clients have thanked their translators for pointing out errors and unclear language in their texts, and changed originals accordingly. We have even heard of international companies regularly printing documents in several languages, who will only go to press after a piece of writing has been translated into the appropriate languages and the translators have pointed out any errors and unclear phrases.
Why not not Do-It-Yourself translation?
All of us have wrestled at some point with poorly translated manuals while trying to put up a desk, tune a car radio or cook a microwave meal. Often comic, sometimes incomprehensible, these examples of poor translation always reflect appallingly on the company marketing the product. By failing to make a relatively small investment in good translation, these businesses undermine all the work they have done in research, design, production quality, printing and marketing.
But what about translation software and on-line translation?
These can be handy if you need a quick translation of a short piece for your information purposes only. They are however notoriously unreliable and not always intelligible. Especially difficult to tackle with translation software and on-line translation are long sentences, complicated grammar and all words that have more than one meaning…
But we have bilingual staff…
Bilingualism and the ability to translate do not go hand in hand. Translation is a professional skill which requires training, experience, daily practice and a high investment in reference materials and IT equipment. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting, for example, requires a minimum of three years full-time professional experience, plus an examination before translators can qualify as members. Bi-lingualism plus a relevant university degree is typically where would-be translators are starting form, at least five years before eventual admission to membership.
But supposing we have the translation proof-read by a professional?
Amateur translation followed by professinal checking is a false economy. Proof-reading is generally charged per hour. Experience has taught us that the correction of a poor translation by a professional can cost the client more than paying for an original translation. It also means that the document has effectively not been proofed, since the final text will be distant from the original ‘translation’.
More information about the commissioning of translations
More information and helpful tips can be found here http://www.iti.org.uk/pdfs/trans/GIR_english.pdf