Buying Translation Services. What you need to know.

Buying Translation Services. What you need to know.
Have you ever wondered what makes a translation good? Have you ever received your documents back and have been disappointed with the quality?
Whether you need certified translation services, legal translation services, medical translations or technical translations consider these steps when choosing accredited translation services:
1. Are the translators native or at least bilingual?
Most of translation agencies hire translators who are certified, native and experienced in the field the translation is needed.
2. What is your language pair?
Your translation company will ask you to define the language pair, meaning English to Spanish translation services, French translation services, German translation services, etc.
3. Where will the translated documents be used?
If your document will be used in Mexico, you should be looking for Mexican Spanish translation services, meaning that a native or bilingual translator should be working on your files. This is often referred to as “locale” or “localization”.
4. What is the intended use of the translation?
Understanding whether your translation will be used for personal use or for official use will lead to different decisions. If you need USCIS approved translation services (USCIS certified translation, as referred to on their official website) then you should be asking for Certification. If you are looking for medical translation services, technical translation services, legal translation services or website translation services, then you should be looking for a linguist or a professional translation agency capable to produce specialized translations.
5. Do I need a proofreader?
If your translation is used for personal purposes you can save on proofreading costs. However, if you are looking to publish your material or to use the translations for professional use, then a proofreader is recommended and necessary as this way possible errors and/or omissions are caught.  Technical translations, medical translations, legal translations or any other types of specialized translations require high level of expertise and research and a second opinion and internal QA are always necessary.
6. Do I need certified translations?
You only need cerfied translation if you have official documents that must be presented to US institutions or abroad. A Certification is a written statement issued by the linguist or the translation agency which states that the translation is true, accurate and complete against the original documents.
Bear in mind that there are four levels of translation quality::
  • Machine translation - it will provide the lowest quality of all. Some words are not translated at all or mistranslated.
  • Literal translation- these are translations done by a bilingual individual who is not trained with translations standards and provides translations outside his area of expertise or competence.
  • Professional translation services- are completed by highly experienced and trained linguists or professional translation agencies. They are easily readable and understandable while being adapted to specific markets, dialects and jargons.
  • Transcreation- this is what is needed when the message is more important than the words themselves. Transcreation is particularly used in marketing translations for marketing slogans and product descriptions.  When you translate a document for use in a specific location (localize), such as Portuguese language for use in Brazil, you want a professional translation that will adapt the document for easy use, taking into consideration the nuances of the language in that location.
The processes and workflow structures of most translation agencies or professional translators that offer professional technical translations are set up to provide the “professional translation” level of quality. But if you just need a quick, rough translation, let your account manager know that you are only looking for a draft and you should be offered a lower quotation. 

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