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The Good, the Bad and the Preferential

Posted 05 October 2016

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Understanding the difference between a quality translation and a poor translation

How can you tell a good quality translation from a bad one? This isn’t a trick question! All professional translation agencies have two-way relationships with their clients and work with feedback. ALM is no different. Many companies that need our services will find the whole translation process a bit daunting.

When using the services of a professional translation agency, you are buying trust, taking a leap of faith, more often than not, buying a language that you have no knowledge of. Your company may be pinning successful exporting and increased sales on the translations they are buying. You may need an important contract translating that will seal a deal with a new customer.  Whatever your need for translation services, it’ll be important to your company. To add to the confusion, there are different levels of service on offer.

A typical scenario

Here’s a typical scenario: you start looking for agencies to contact; either by searching on the web or via personal recommendations. You then go on to contact several companies and they will all submit their quotes. After consulting your shortlist, you choose a standard translation with no secondary review as Mr X in the X office, says, “I don’t have time to translate but happy to proof read” or simply that this is the cheapest options, so go with it.

You select an agency based on their experience, price, professionalism and cost savings and finally, your quality translation partner has been chosen. Phew! The translation is delivered on time, you really like the company, the Project Manager looking after you and confidently pass the translation on to Mr X for checking.

But then Mr X turns round and says that he doesn’t like the translation!

Then what? Of course, you have no knowledge of the language. Mr X has marked up the document with handwritten notes and changes. “This isn’t the term that WE would use for this item!”, “This must have been Google translated”, “terrible translation”. So, why wouldn’t you trust Mr X? He has been working with the company for many years and understands the company, the industry and the target market. He also speaks the language.

Is it time to don the cowboy hat, load the guns and head for the High Chaparral? Hold your horses, there’s something you should know…

Feedback is not the sign of a poor translation in every case. ALM loves working with feedback! It’s the key to a good business relationship, which in turn will develop and flourish! So how can you avoid “pistols at dawn” between you and your translation agency?

ALM Translations has a clear procedure when it comes to dealing with translation feedback

ALM’s strict procedure identifies whether feedback is of the sign of a poor translation or whether changes are simply a matter of preference. The first step is to send any commented and reviewed documents to another qualified professional for their opinion. This is the fairest way to deal with feedback. 99.9% of the time, the feedback is preferential and can be due to your company’s preferred terminology and Mr X’s preferred style.  Why shouldn’t you believe Mr X when he tells you that Item AA should be called Item ZZ? Of course you should. His feedback is essential as it will allow your translation agency to get to know how you like to say things in your company’s own unique way! Any agency worth its salt would ensure that Item AA, reads Item ZZ in any subsequent translations through the joint partnership and translation technology available. Preferred style can be learned, and the joint expertise of Mr X and a professional translator will help ensure that your company benefits from the investment in quality translation services.

ALM translates all types of documents for a whole range of industry sectors. We prefer to work with feedback from your colleagues where available. Amendments and changes should be seen as a positive part of the translation process that will help your agency to become a true translation partner.

If you don’t have a Mr X in your company, we can do the secondary checking for you. Take a look at our service levels and the variety of document translation services we offer to find the best solution for your company!


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