Are you looking to hire a translator? The truth is that not all translators will give you the best service or deliver the best product. To avoid disappointment, hefty fees, and potential embarrassment in front of your target audience, it’s important to take your time when choosing a translator.
Before we leap into what to look for when choosing a translator to work with your documents, it’s important to note the difference between a translator and an interpreter. The two are often confused. Interpretation is spoken and carried out in real time while translation is written, requiring the transfer of a written text from one language into another.
With that cleared up, here are 3 key questions to help you choose the right translator for your project:
1. Are they accredited?
Being able to use a dictionary or even speak and/or read a different language does not make you a translator. Translation requires more than just the technical replacement of words in one language with those in another language. Anyone who has tried to use an online translation engine will quickly realise this. Accreditation will attest to the translator’s education and training. At IEBE, we ensure that all our contracted translators operate according to AIIC and SATI’s code of ethics.
2. Are they a native speaker?
While not always necessary, it is preferable for your translator to be a native speaker. It is extremely challenging to achieve complete fluency in a language that is not your mother tongue. So, for the most part, the best translators are native speakers. Also, remember that if you are working with a language that has variations across different countries (for example, Spanish in Mexico versus Spanish in Spain), your translator should have country-specific expertise.
3. What is their area of subject expertise?
If you are working with technical, legal, or particularly high level documents, it is best to work with a translator with experience in that field. While you might have to explain certain concepts or ideas to them (to ensure that the meaning is carried across as intended), if the translator has experience in the area you work in, this process will be a lot simpler and faster. Evaluate the translator’s level of expertise by asking for references as well as some sample pieces, and give these to a suitably qualified native speaker to read. They will be able to tell you the level and skill of the translation. Smooth, clear writing is a skill in itself and it is made doubly difficult by having to do so in a different language from the source language.
Translation is a specialised skill that requires training and experience, rather than just the trading of one set of words for another. Make sure that if you have gone to the effort to get your documents translated the job is professionally done.
Worried that you won’t find the right match for your project?