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Top 5 Factors Affecting Translation Quality

How do you please everyone?

American writer William S. Burroughs once said: “You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 factors that directly contribute to translation quality.

1. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Remember: a translation will only be as good as the original, i.e., the source text. An “okay” press release will result in no more than an “okay” translation.

If the text has to be improved in any way, this should be agreed upon in advance when placing the order.

 2. You can’t rush quality

No matter what your circumstances are, work takes time. A translator can do only work as quickly as they can, regardless of extra pay, pleas, or arguments that the work is urgent and was due yesterday.

Let’s look at it like this: a regular person reads at a speed of about 200 words per minute and writes at an average of 38 words per minute. However, translating is much more than reading or writing. It involves the process of choosing the best translation of a word, sentence or phrase while considering things such as grammar, terminology and style at the same time. Often translating involves research or cross-checking with a dictionary; and any translation needs rereading and proofreading as well.

Generally, it is estimated that a translator produces approximately 250 words per hour. However, an agency will have to prepare the source text for the translator, and once the translation is complete, it is forwarded for proofreading and formatting before it can be delivered to the client.

In cases of extreme urgency, machine translation may be the best option. By no means can it be compared to the work of an expert who will pay heed to your requests, but, with appropriate post-editing, it can prove to be a very useful tool nonetheless.

3. A master of one

Choose a translator who specialises in the field of the source text. Make sure that the translator is familiar with the specific terms and context – when it comes to language, the devil really is in the detail. Terms which may seem obvious to an expert of the industry may leave an outsider clueless and guessing.

4. Everything is subjective

This also applies to translation quality – two people may have completely different opinions on the quality of a translation. To ensure the best possible quality for a translation, it is important for all involved parties to work together: first, in determining the task and the desired result as precisely as possible, and second, in answering any questions that the translator may have during the process. In this sense, translating is a team effort.

5. Good work ain’t cheap, cheap work ain’t good

They say that “he who pays cheap pays twice” – the bitterness of a poor translation will certainly last much longer than the joy of a low price. It’s the same with food – you wouldn’t eat garbage just because the price is low.

The question of why does translation cost so much comes up often. Translation is usually a linguist’s main occupation, so their income must correspond to a general level of living standards. For example, if the national minimum wage is raised, the translator’s salary should rise accordingly. Good translators know their value, and they know that their services would be in demand even if they increase their rates.

The cost of translation also includes additional costs, such as the work of project managers, office rent, translation software, etc. Each translation also needs to be proofread, therefore translation includes paying wages to at least two linguists.

A professional translation of high quality is an asset that should be paid for accordingly. It is, after all, no exaggeration that communication is the basis for our success – in everyday life, business, and otherwise.