Choosing the Best Translation Agency – What You Need to Know - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Choosing the Best Translation Agency – What You Need to Know

When you need professional translations, you cannot leave the tasks to amateurs. You do not want a poor translation to result in misinterpretations, in injury to your reputation, and, worse, offending someone by ignorance of their culture.

And just knowing two languages does not make a translator.

What you need is a professional translation agency. But even these are not equal. Just as when you look for a home remodeling company, you must do your research and ask the right questions before making a selection.

Here’s what you need to know.

Will You Be in Communication with the Agency’s People?

There are some translation agencies that simply take your content and then deliver back to you your translated piece(s). This is always a bad sign. You need a contact person with the agency, and you need to be able to discuss everything with your assigned translator throughout the process. Agencies that don’t have a lot of human contact with their clients are usually those that rely solely on machine translations – not a good thing.

Can the Agency Handle Your Deadlines, Even When Urgent?

You may have a number of pieces for translation and you may have some urgent deadlines. Make sure the agency is large enough with enough staff to handle these needs. Ask about the numbers of professional translators they have for the languages you need.

What are the Credentials of the Translators?

Ask about the backgrounds, educations, and experience of the translators who will be assigned to your projects. It is best to have a native of your target language because he will be far more adept in language nuances and cultural concerns.

How Much Experience in Your Niche?

There is a huge difference between translating personal documents (e.g. letters), and translating documents for specific industries. You want to know how much experience the agency has had in your sector and if the assigned translators have a background in your niche as well. There is phrasing, terminology, and syntax that will be different by industry, and you need translators with knowledge and experience.

Will You Have a Human Translator?

Machine translation is getting much better of late, but it will still never completely take the place of a human. Good agencies do make use of machine translation but always in conjunction with a human.

How can they Prove quality?

There are a couple of consideration here.

First, a professional agency will ensure that there is quality control in place. This means that, especially with complex and lengthy pieces, there will be another qualified translator to review it.

Second, ask what associations and organization the agency belongs to. There are professional associations that have criteria for membership.

Third, the company should be willing to provide references, especially from businesses in your niche. Don’t rely on posted testimonials. Contact references directly.

Third, there are translation service review sites. Access a couple and read customer reviews.

What Security Measures are in Place?

This will be important when proprietary and confidential content is being translated. Any firm you use should have security certifications, such as ISO9001or ISO27001.

What are the Prices?

Beware of any agency that has an across-the-board price per word or type of document. Every project is unique and should be treated as such. There should be varied pricing based upon the type of document, the complexity of the content, and the deadlines. You should expect to pay a decent price for professional translation, one that is competitive for the market. Just like anything else, you will get what you pay for. Avoid the “low-ballers,” unless you are looking for just some personal pieces that will not have to be perfect. And for those, you could probably get a foreign college student or foreign language teacher to do that kind of work.

If you are just venturing into the translation world, you will need to ask all of these questions before you choose an agency. One of the things you can do, if there is no immediate urgency, is to order a shorter piece or a part of a longer one and have a “test run.”

If you are anticipating that translation will be an ongoing need, finding the right agency will mean you have your permanent solution over the long haul.











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