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How Do I Know If A Language Translation Service Is Any Good?

Dec 17, 2007
To start with, the difficulty for you is that there is no easy way of knowing whether one translation service is better than another. They all promise accurate translations yet they are not all created equal. Some proclaim unending quality while others promise low prices. The latter is the first obvious danger signal. The simple truth is that good translators are not cheap, nor should they be. The translation service also needs to add on its cut, ranging from 10%-50% on top of the translator's price depending on whether they review the translations.

So, if the prices are too low, it is most likely the translator's cut that has suffered. This will undoubtedly mean that you'll only get inexperienced or poor translators. If all you want is to understand what a document is about, then you'd probably be better off saving your money and using one of the free online machine translation systems. If, on the other hand, the material is for your clients then it might be worth getting the job done properly. The bottom line is that in choosing a translation service, price should not be your ultimate deciding factor but rather one piece of the overall translation pie.

It is easy to calculate how much you spend on translations.
What's not so easy is determining how much poor translations will cost you!

So set price aside and consider these skill sets when evaluating a translation service. That way, you can be certain you're comparing good apples with good apples as opposed to bad apples with rotten apples. Ask yourself:

Q) How does the translation service select its translators?
A) Do the team members undergo a rigorous selection process? Are they required to prove native proficiency in THE language into which they translate? If not, you should seriously consider looking elsewhere. The money you save in affordable yet meaningless translations will more than be eaten up by the opportunities you lose because of them.

Q) Are you sure the translators only work into their native language?
A) That Spanish-born and -raised English to Spanish translator may be the perfect choice if the target market is Spain. But what if you want to target the UK? No matter how good her English may be, that Spanish professional no longer looks like the right person for the job, does she?

Q) Does the translation service specialise in the type of material you want to translate?
A) If you broke your leg, you'd want the best orthopaedic surgeon to set it - you wouldn't rely on a dermatologist to get the job done right, would you? Your translation needs shouldn't settle for anything less than the best and most suitable expert either. If you're a financial services provider, for example, look for a translation service that specialises in financial material.

Q) Does the translation service specialise in some languages, or does it offer every language under the sun?
A) You know the saying: "Jack of all trades, master of none." If a translation service claims to be an expert in all languages, scrutinise that claim.

Once again, it is easy to calculate how much you spend on translations. What's not so easy is determining how much poor translations will cost you. Why take your chances with a cheap translation service that produces lacklustre results when you could have a leading translation service with guaranteed results? When you think about it, the choice seems obvious.
About the Author
Stranslations offers professional language translation services in English, French, Spanish, German and other major European languages.
The original version of this article can found at www.stranslations.com.
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