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How can I be sure of getting a good quality translation?

I need a translation for my company. It has to be high quality and accurate. How can I be sure that I’ll be getting something which is good enough for business use?

Hi Phillip,

What a great question, thank you. I’ve answered below.

It might sound obvious but to receive a great quality translation, the work must be undertaken by a translator who is up to the job.

So, how can you tell if your chosen translator is of a high enough standard? Luckily we’ve developed a set of criteria over the years which separates the wheat from the chaff.

What makes a great translator?

Here’s a check list which will help you. Look out for the following qualities.

Formal qualifications

Translators who hold a Diploma in Translation (DipTrans.) issued by the Institute of Linguists or a Translation Degree or Languages Degree with substantial translation components from a reputable establishment are likely to produce better results than those who do not.

Translation Experience

I can’t stress this enough. There really is no substitute for years of experience.

Each translation agency will have its own policy on translators’ experience and should be happy to explain it to you.  For example, we insist that translators producing our premium translations have at least 5 years relevant commercial experience (most have many more than this) as we find that anything less than this does not guarantee the highest quality.

Translator Association membership

There several well respected bodies which translators can join including:

  • Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)
  • Institute of Linguists (IoL)
  • Societe française des traducteurs (SFT)
  • Institute of Linguists American Translators Associations (ATA)
  • US National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators AIIC

These organisations vet candidates before allowing them to join. Whilst membership does not 100% guarantee quality, it does at least prove the individual is serious about what they do.

We receive dozens of applications every week from people claiming to be translators when what they really mean is that they can speak a foreign language and are looking to earn some spending money in their spare time.

We do not employ them but someone must. Would you let a plumber fix your gas pipes unless they were registered with the correct safety organisation (Currently called Gas Safe which replaced CORGI in the UK)? I know I wouldn’t.

Mother tongue translators

With very few exceptions, translators produce better work when translating into their mother tongue.

By simply insisting on your translation company using a mother tongue translator you can drastically increase the chances of receiving a good translation. There is no substitute to using experienced experts working into their mother tongue.

Here at London Translations we ONLY use mother tongue translators.

In-country translators

In some circumstances it’s very important to use a translator who lives and works in the country which you are targeting so they they are up to speed with all the latest colloquialisms and ‘in phrases’.

Using an in-country translator is particularly important if you are translating marketing and advertising text as literal translations of marketing material often does not travel well.

We take great care to place work with in-country translators were appropriate, for instance those who work as part of our Validata International Brand Checking team.

Translator references

Although past performance is not an absolute guarantee of future performance it’s one of the best indicators around. That’s why we suggest you do what we do with all our translators.

Seek references and check them out. Don’t simply take the translator’s word for it that they are genuine. Alas, not everybody in the translation world is honest.

Test translations

To further ensure that your chosen translator really has the skills you need, we suggest you set them a short test translation. Simply by asking candidates to take an exam you’ll frighten off many of the obvious charlatans. Like us, only consider the ones which do well in your test.

A final few words on translation quality

It’s important to understand that unlike, say, medicine and law, the translation industry is unregulated. This means that literally anyone can set up as a translator and claim to offer high quality translations.

It’s worth remembering this when you are comparing prices, despite the expansion of the translation industry due to the internet, you still tend to get what you pay for.

We offer three different classes of translation to suit different needs and budgets.

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