Translation is a complex process that involves much more than simply replacing words between one language and another. It’s an activity that requires linguistic, cultural and technical skills. To make sure the translation is of the highest quality, there’s a structured process to be followed. In this post, we outline the steps involved in the professional translation process.
The first step in the professional translation process is the initial assessment. At this stage, the document to be translated is assessed to determine its complexity, size and format. In addition, the source and target languages are identified, and the deadline determined.
This stage is crucial as it allows translators and translation agencies to define the specific requirements of the project and adjust the process accordingly.
Selecting a suitable translator
Once the document has been assessed and the requirements established, the next step is to select a suitable translator. For this, it’s important to consider the translator’s specialisation, subject matter expertise and proficiency in the source and target language.
It’s also important to consider the translator’s academic background, linguistic and cultural skills, as well as their ability to work with different document formats.
To manage all requests for translation services, a project manager is designated as the Single Point of Contact (SPC). They handle all translation requests and deliveries, and relay any queries or concerns from the team.
If any of the selected translators are absent or unavailable, the SPC will select an alternative translator who has the same level of competence. If changes are made to the original team, the SPC will communicate full details to the client for approval.
The SPC also oversees the project timetable, ensuring the timely delivery of scheduled documents and managing any urgent requests.
This is the third step in the professional translation process. The translator starts working on the document, replacing the original text with its equivalent in the target language. At this stage, the translator must pay particular attention to the accuracy, consistency and fluency of the text.
At the same time, the translator should be mindful of the context and intent of the source text to ensure that the translation conveys the same message as the original.
Translation involves many other important aspects to think about. Check out our other blog posts for more information.
Once the translator has completed their work, the next step is to conduct a thorough review of the translated document to detect any errors or inaccuracies. This review should be carried out by a professional, experienced reviewer who has a thorough knowledge of the target language and culture. This task includes checking the accuracy of the translation, grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as the coherence of the text as a whole. It also involves automated and manual quality control checks.
If the document has been translated into multiple languages, the SPC will carry out checks between the different versions to ensure cross-language consistency.
As a rule, only one review round is required (according to ISO:17100). However, at the client’s request or for particularly sensitive documents, a second review can be carried out to check for potential remaining errors and to further optimise the linguistic quality of the translated material.
When the review has been completed and any necessary corrections have been made, the last step is the final delivery. At this stage, the document is delivered to the client in the required format, such as a Word document, PDF file or any other format requested. It’s essential that the client reviews the final document and approves it before final handover.
Once the client has signed off on the deliverables, the SPC uploads the translated text to the agency’s proprietary translation database and extracts all relevant terminology to create or update the client’s glossary.
The diagram below illustrates the translation workflow:
Quality control mechanisms
Quality control is carried out in several stages. The main contributors at these stages are the SPC, the translators, the reviewers and specialist software.
An initial check is carried out between the translation and review phase. Here the SPC checks:
- That the target text essentially corresponds to the source text
- The format
- If any elements are missing
After this first review, the SPC performs a cross-language consistency check. This consists of comparing all language versions against each other to ensure that all content is translated with the same meaning in all languages and that there are no discrepancies or inconsistencies.
This step usually involves frequent interaction and exchange of views between the SPC and the reviewers/translators to reach an agreement on standardised texts.
Now it’s the turn of the reviewer, who checks a range of key aspects of the text:
- Grammatical and syntactical accuracy
- Spelling accuracy
- Terminological accuracy specific to the sector
- Logical and consequential accuracy of the translation
- Stylistic accuracy and coherence of the translation
- Verification of the translator’s understanding of any deeper meanings, implicit messages, subtexts and linguistic particularities of the source language
After the review, it’s time for automated quality control checks using the CAT software’s built-in tools and other quality control applications (MS word, Xbench, etc.). This check focuses on:
- Incorrect or missing numbers
- Double spaces
- Missing spaces
- Dates and times
- Inconsistent capitalisation
- Missing special characters
- Localisation of measurement units
- Inconsistent translations
- Use of client-specific terminology
- Character limits (if any)
Finally, the SPC once again checks that there are no discrepancies between the language versions and verifies that the quality control recommendations have been correctly applied by the automated tools. If necessary, the SPC will consult the translator or reviewer.
The final quality control stage includes checking for:
- Formatting errors such as bolding/italics/basic editing
- Adherence to the style guide
- General readability
- Use of agreed terminology
The format check ensures that the appearance of the target document is, as far as reasonably possible, identical to that of the source document. This is possible for most document types, including MS Word and (to some extent) PDF files. In more complex cases, in consultation with the client, we can use our in-house graphic design and desktop publishing service.
Language and terminology resources and databases
Translation work is always undertaken using CAT software. This produces a translation database that serves as a reference to guarantee terminological and stylistic coherence across documents. In addition, Traducendo creates a separate glossary that incorporates any resources provided by the client. This produces a term base, or glossary, that can be used from the very first translation. This glossary, which will expand over time, is added to the CAT software to provide instant term recognition.
Last but not least, Traducendo sources a range of online and offline reference materials produced by industry bodies and by national and international organisations. These provide a robust reference base that can be used in the translation.
The professional translation process is no easy task. It requires a team of specialist translators who are committed to quality and to providing an excellent service. Every step in the translation process is essential, from initial assessment right through to final delivery. This is the only way to deliver a high-quality service that meets the client’s needs and requirements.
Here at Traducendo, not only do we guarantee the accuracy and quality of the final product, but we also help our clients save time and resources.
What’s more, we have the capacity to adapt to a wide range of projects, from general content to technical, legal, environmental and sports-related materials, not to mention more complex projects involving multiple languages and specialist areas. We always strive to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the translation industry. This means we can always offer innovative solutions adapted to the needs of each of our clients.