With translation, as with most things in life, value for money is hard to find. The lowest bidders are not necessarily the best choice: make sure that price isn't the only criteria you use for your valuable project. The written materials you distribute--books, mailings and pamphlets, but also websites--reflect your company. An inept translation will a) quadruple your in-house work or b) cost a substantial amount to have corrected. Yet, in my experience, most companies assign translation jobs without having done their homework. Spending a little time in the beginning can save you a massive headache and expensive reconstruction later.
· All texts need talented writers
· NOT all bilingual people can write well!
Writing is something that people tend to take for granted. Think, however, how many people in your “circle” can write texts that grab and hold your attention? Only a small percentage of “native speakers” can write well. So why do most companies assume that translators have that skill? The original text may read well, but that is easily lost in translation.
Ask a translator to:
· provide a link for a site or article that represents their work.
· provide references.
· translate a small test piece. Include idioms that cannot be literally translated.
Examine these materials carefully or have a native speaker do so (I will assess such texts for a nominal fee). Do they read as fluent language? Consider also the speed with which your “test” is returned. If it takes too long, then question whether the candidate can meet critical deadlines.
Some last tips:
Before assigning the task you should also make sure that the price includes copy editing and that you have set a firm (but reasonable) deadline, perhaps with some financial penalty if the date is not met.
Proper editing is essential for any text, even written in one’s native language. A freshly translated text rarely reads well: some word choices are not optimal, the sentence structure often still retains too much of the original language. It needs to sit some time and then the translator can read it with a clear head and focus on making it read naturally.
Most experienced business people can give at least one example of a “translation hell” experience. You can avoid that by looking carefully at your candidates. Translation is serious business: it provides the international "voice" of your company and access to the world. Is that really where you should be counting pennies?