“This translation was done by a machine! Everyone knows that ‘make up’ means ‘maquillaje’!”
True story: some years ago a client’s internal reviewer objected to the translation “the make-up of the committee included…”because he had never heard the term ‘make up’ used in this way before. One potential problem with corporate translation projects is that the “coordinator” — the person who places the order — is usually not the same as the “reviewer” — the person who will actually use the documentation. This is typical of large corporations with offices in more than one language region. The more languages that are coordinated centrally, the more relevant this issue becomes. So how should a coordinator effectively manage the internal review process?
Although there are exceptions, the “coordinator” typically does not speak the target languages of the project. This means that they cannot judge the quality of the translation (accuracy, tone, register, technical terminology, etc.). Therefore, the coordinator has no choice but to trust the supplier, and hope the translation generates no negative feedback. Problems occur when one or more colleagues/acquaintances/distributors send a (generally fairly aggressive) email insisting that the translation is terrible and that they can’t possibly approve it.
‘A’ does not always equal ‘B’
When it comes to translation, ‘A’ does not always equal ‘B’. Translation, even of technical documents, is very often a subjective matter; different people regularly insist on different solutions. Some people prioritise academic correctness over normal usage of the target language. Others overlook the fact that industry usage does not always coincide with official terminology or everyday speech (hence the importance of choosing a translator who is specialised in your field).
In order to achieve best results the first time around, one must establish a clear and defined line of communication with your language service provider, specifying what is expected in each circumstance. It’s important to consider your preferred tone, technical terminology, as well as personal preferences.
The importance of a good reviewer
The reviewer is often the key to this process, and thus the success of the project at hand. Because they are so important, coordinators should take note, and choose reviewers carefully, on the basis of their technical knowledge (the product, industry, market, etc.), their availability, and also their positive attitude.
However, depending on the type of documentation, the internal review process should be confined to reviewing technical terminology, or to assessing whether the result is appropriate for the target market. Although it is a huge temptation to do so, reviewers should not offer opinions on (or refuse to accept) other aspects of the translation.
The keys to a successful translation project are knowing how to fit together the puzzle: clear requirements, effective processes, a collaborative culture, and the best possible supplier. The reviewer does not always get to see all these elements, and this makes confidence-building and trust all-important. Translators are professionally trained linguists; they will repay your trust and confidence. At Quicksilver Translate we only work with professional, qualified translators, who are translating into their native language.