Translating a text may seem like a piece of cake: file received, quoted, translated, delivered. Just simple as that, might as well be a version of a Daft Punk song. A professional translation service is a whole different story and involves several steps to make sure the final result meets the expectations or even exceeds them. In this article, I am going to talk about the 4 translation steps a professional translator should follow to have smooth project management and bring the best out of your multilingual communication strategy.
STEP 1: ANALYSIS
To give a proper quote and an estimate of the time needed to complete the job, the first thing to do is to analyze the file (s). A text can be quite short and drawn up in a plain Word document, so giving a quote is something very easy and fast to do. But files can of course be longer, formatted, and can contain other file types as well (for example, images with captions). Not to mention that there are several file types out there that need specific software just to be opened.
This is when a CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) tool comes to the rescue. A CAT tool is an important part of a translator’s toolkit and is helpful in the entire process of translation. CATs can open almost all existing file types and give you back data on the files, such as the number of words, segments, and repetitions. Also, CAT tools support translation memories (or TMs) and termbases (or TBs), which can both help to maintain consistency and reduce turnaround times. A new client probably doesn’t have them, so you can set them up together to get excellent results in the long term.
STEP 2: TRANSLATION
A professional translator would not simply dive right into translation: there is so much to ask before actually starting the job. What is the purpose of the message? It aims to inform, attract, or nurture its target audience? Which tone of voice we should use? Does it have to be formal or informal? What about the target audience? (if applicable). How about their age, habits, jobs, hobbies, place they live?
Once a translator gets all these answers from the client, the next thing to do is drafting a style guide, which includes this information and other data on cultural preferences, formatting, dos and don’ts, and so on. With all this in mind, a translator can finally start their job.
STEP 3: EDITING
La revisione è una fase importantissima perché permette di raggiungere il massimo da una traduzione. Anche il traduttore più esperto può avere qualche svista, soprattutto quando deve lavorare in urgenza o quando il testo è piuttosto lungo e complesso. Ecco perché è importantissimo revisionare attentamente il testo qualche ora dopo avere completato la traduzione. Gli errori più comuni riguardano l’ortografia, la grammatica, l’incoerenza terminologica, l’accuratezza e la fluidità del testo. A volte è necessario sistemare la formattazione dopo avere esportato il documento per riportarlo al suo aspetto originale.
STEP 4: FEEDBACK
The last step is talking with the client after some time about the project. Receiving feedback is important both look at what could have gone better and to consider what worked out well. Also, it’s useful to discuss potential new strategies.
I told you; it is not as simple as it seems. Performing an outstanding job takes time, multiple resources, and skills, but hard work pays off. Or, quote: harder, better, faster, stronger. By the way, being a translator means that “our work is never over”, as our entire life is in the name of continuous development, and we should be prepared to learn new things every day.