From incorrectly translated contracts to misconstrued marketing messages, the fallout from translation mistakes can be embarrassing, costly or downright catastrophic. Professional translation services can play an integral part in the global expansion of businesses and ensure accurate translation of official personal documents such as birth certificates and wills. With an intimate knowledge of local languages and cultures, such services enable governments, companies and individuals from around the world to communicate accurately and effectively.
Accredited translators and multi-level quality control allow professional translation companies to deliver unparalleled reliability and precision, no matter what the project. Unlike machine or computer-generated translations, human-powered translation services understand the subtle cultural nuances of local languages that can alter the meaning of your translation. Outsourcing translation projects is more cost-effective for businesses than hiring in-house translators because translation services typically charge a flat fee for each project. The best translation services, including our top-rated companies Net-Translators, inWhatLanguage and Dynamic Language, offer diverse services that range from basic document translation to software localization and desktop publishing. Learn more about these services in our reviews and articles about translation services.
No matter what type of translation project you have, finding a reputable and reliable translation company is pivotal – your business may depend on it. While the type of translation you need is a crucial factor, it isn't the only one to consider. Here are the four key factors to keep in mind when you seek out a translation agency.
The translation company you select will largely depend on whether it offers the type of translation you need. A translation agency should boast a range of services that go beyond basic document translation; the best companies provide language translation of web content, multimedia and standard documents. Most also offer certified translation of official documents such as birth certificates and adoption papers. This type of translation is accompanied by an official certification from the translator or translation company certifying that the translation is an accurate and precise translation of the original source document. Additionally, many services provide localization testing and cultural consulting to ensure that your translation makes sense both linguistically and contextually in your target country.
Any translation service you consider should be well versed in the industry your translation falls under. For example, if you need a translation of technical documents such as manuals or product specifications, the service should have experience translating these types of documents. Likewise, a service should have extensive experience in legal translation if you need legal or certified translation.
In addition to standard translation services, the best translation agencies also provide high-tech services such as desktop publishing, software localization and international search engine optimization (SEO). Desktop publishing refers to turnkey translation services for printed materials. In addition to actual text translation, the service handles all design elements, such as typesetting and formatting. With desktop publishing, the source files are sent to you 100-percent complete and print-ready. Software localization refers to adapting a software application into a different language for a different culture, and international SEO means that the service can help optimize webpages for your target international markets.
Another high-tech capability you should look for in a translation service is translation memory technology. Translation memory refers to a linguistic database that captures and saves repetitive phrases for future use. It enables translators to work faster and can lower the cost of your translation projects by eliminating the need to translate repetitive phrases. It is important to note that this technology does not replace human translators; it simply augments translators' skills to provide faster and more accurate translations.
Certifications & QA
There is no primary governing body over the translation and localization industry, but there are specific industry certifications and affiliations that are relevant to these services. Certifications that are indicative of top-notch translation services include the ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038 certifications. The ISO certification specifies requirements for quality management systems within an organization. The EN 15038 certification is also a quality standard, but it is specific to translation service providers and set forth by the European Committee for Standardization.
It is equally important to evaluate a translation service's internal quality assurance procedures and translator qualifications. The service should employ translators accredited by the American Translators Association or another professional association. The translators should be native speakers of their target language to ensure both technical and cultural competency. To ensure accurate translations, the service should have multi-level quality assurance procedures and be transparent about what their processes entail.
Many renowned translation services are also compliant with the open standards set by the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA). While LISA has officially ceased operations, the organization has released its portfolio of copyrighted standards for open use. These standards help promote consistency, interoperability and quality management within the translation industry.
All translation services provide contact information, but what support resources do they offer that will prove truly beneficial? A translation company should assign you a project manager to oversee the translation with you.
Look for services that also provide an online customer portal where you can track the progress of your translation project and contact your project manager. Other resources you should look for include free service quotes, customer references upon request, and informational articles or blog posts to help you become more familiar with a company's translation services.
From documents to business translation services, translation agencies provide a range of useful services. When you need to translate content as accurately as possible for business, legal or personal reasons, there is no substitute for human-powered translation services.