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There are several false beliefs on the market about professional translations made by translation agencies. What is the truth behind these allegations and how can deficient processes be corrected by professional organizations?
1. Prompt delivery of translations is insufficient
No matter whether you work with a provider who uses cloud-systems or with an agency who selects translators manually, the delivery speed of the translation remains approximately the same. The first and most important criterion for a naturally sounding, finished text is for it to be translated by a real person and not by software. In order for the translation to have a uniform style, it is ideal if one individual expert translates the entire text. Only in emergency cases should you have more persons working on a single document. This given, it is irrelevant if the translator downloads the texts from a cloud, an internal server or receives them via e-mail, the speed of human work is always the same.
2. It is extremely time-consuming to alter translations if changes are made subsequently in the source texts
Well, this allegation might have been true in the 90s or early 2000s, but today professional translators normally have access to several CAT-tools, i.e. Computer Aided Translation tools. These are programs that help translators to work directly with the texts, sentence by sentence, and store the bilingual pairs of translated sentences, or segments in a database. Most of these programs even highlight the text parts that were altered, so that subsequent changes can be executed within a matter of minutes. Most freelance translators work with one of these CAT-tools and these programs are basic assets in every translation agency’s arsenal.
3. Website internationalization is extremely time consuming and can take several weeks or even months
As previously mentioned, there are several CAT-Tools that enable translators to edit source texts and even program codes in a fast and effective way. With these, accessing the texts in HTML-files or in XML-formats can take place within a matter of seconds and the translator can edit the texts directly, without “messing up” the source code. What is more, CAT-tools even enable access to name, title and meta tags, which means you receive the translated web content ready for use.
4. Lack of context results in incorrect translations
Actually, there is always an obvious context when translating a text. The key element is to choose a professional who has the experience and know-how in the corresponding field. Translators always have access to the whole text and its pictures, whether via CAT-tools, which all have preview functions, or via the original file (e.g. PDF) you provided. The main criterion is, of course, that the client provides these documents.
5. Translation reviews are often omitted because there are no tools to facilitate it
Well, if a translation agency operates according to best business practices and beliefs, it would not deliver a translation without reviewing it. In case of many agencies, the review is an automatic process and is included in the price. In some other cases, you have to pay extra for the review by a second native translator. In terms of good business practices, however, all agencies should review the results of a translation in some way before delivery to the client.
6. Missing centralization results that the translated content is not repurposed
This might have been true until the early 2000s, but the modern software arsenal of a translator, like the CAT-tools already mentioned, actually results in so-called translation memories being set up on a regular basis, and with these old translations can be reused automatically. This does not only mean consistent use of terminology, but also shorter delivery times and more optimized costs, as many agencies provide discounts for so called fuzzy and context matches. These terms mean that there are text parts that are the same in different documents. The software identifies these and automatically suggests the correct, already completed translations.
7. Most providers require you to use their own translation resources
Most translation agencies in the mid-2010s work with freelancers and a few of them additionally have in-house translators. It is obvious that everybody uses their own resources, whether you use cloud-systems, online translator databases or contact a traditional translation agency directly. Some translation agencies give you the option of choosing the translator you wish to work with, in some other cases you can trust their experience and rely on the best business practices they use. As every translation agency works for profit, it is in their own interest that they choose the right person for the job, because most translation agencies are interested in long-term business relationships and want to keep you as a long-term client.