A top quality translation is not a matter of chance. Quality work requires know-how and experience. The following factors are vital in achieving top quality:
- Professional qualification of the translator
- Some preparatory work in the pre-stage of the translation project
- Close cooperation with the customer
- Careful terminology work, use of translation tools
- Quality assurance
- The time factor
The basis of all good translators are their qualified training, work experience and specialization in certain subjects.
Thanks to a university degree in English and two extended study periods abroad, I have acquired a sound proficiency in the English language. I qualified as a translator by taking the Bavarian state examination for translators. In 2000, I was sworn by the Nuremberg-Fuerth Regional Court and registered as a certified translator. Working as a technical translator in industry for several years has enabled me to sharpen my skills in practice and specialize in a variety of disciplines.
Every translation job requires careful preparation. The following questions should be addressed in advance to ensure a smooth workflow. For this purpose I drew up a checklist which might help not to forget anything important:
Text volume, price, deadline
A translation estimate is usually based on standard lines (a standard line is equivalent to 50 characters, which includes spaces) or, in particular when translation tools are involved, on a word count. If the original text is provided in electronic format, I will be able to calculate its volume, i.e. the time and cost involved, much more precisely than when dealing with a hardcopy. The tool automatically identifies repetitions and identical or similar text segments which I already translated. This has a direct cost benefit for the customer, since these “matches” from the translation memory system (TMS) result in a discount for the customer. But they also speed up the workflow, thus enabling me to respond more flexibly to the delivery date which my customer desires.
Target audience and language
Who will be the readers of this text? Is the text to be published, or is it for the customer’s internal use only? Is it confidential? Is the document intended for an American, British or international audience? I will have to adapt the spelling, lexical style and idioms accordingly.
Can your company provide reference texts, or do you use a corporate terminology? Your assistance in this respect is not only welcome but essential for quality assurance reasons. In many cases it may be useful to name an expert for content-related questions in addition to the business contact.
Close cooperation with customers
I consider close cooperation with my customers very important, not only in the pre-stage of a translation project, but also when work is in progress, because an exchange of information helps improve the workflow and avoids mistakes. Some questions can only be clarified after I have dived “deep enough” into the text, and sometimes a desired nuance of meaning or a subtle message, in particular of advertising texts, can only be conveyed when I get the chance to discuss it with the customer. This helps me work goal-oriented. But even when the job is done, your opinion still matters. I appreciate your comments and welcome any criticism or suggestion you may have, as this helps me further improve my service. Please give me your feedback!
A good translation is characterized by a consistent use of subject-specific terminology. Careful terminology research is one of my quality standards. I use SDL Trados Multiterm as a terminology management system. Wherever possible, I work with translation memory systems. These tools excel by the fact that previously translated texts can be accessed via a database independent of the former document type and format. The tool can also recognize text variations and suggests similar solutions. This ensures that translations are always consistent with regard to terminology and style.
Each translation will be carefully checked for its content, completeness, linguistic correctness, spelling, style, and formatting before it is sent to the customer. This quality check is performed in two runs. If necessary, a native English speaker is involved in the process. Thus each text gets the perfect finish, and you can always rely on its quality.
Always in time
It is one of my principles to meet deadlines at all times. I am fully aware that the time factor becomes more and more important in bringing new products to market and that most of the product-related documentation is compiled when product development is but close to the finishing line. I make every effort to respond flexibly to these time constraints. This is why I use translation memory tools wherever feasible. Preliminary work and maintenance of these tools, however, take some time in itself, so that a well-coordinated workflow is essential. For this reason, you should supply all documents and reference material in good time before translation actually starts. Here I need your cooperation to be able to work fast and smoothly.