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If you’re new to requesting translations, you probably have a lot of questions. All you know for sure is that you have to get your company’s translations right from the start – otherwise you run the risk of high-cost, time-burdened and, sometimes most painstaking, poor quality multilingual content.

A few weeks ago we kicked off the blog series Questions posed by first-time translation buyers to address the not-so-obvious localization best practices you may have inquiries about when diving headfirst into the translation pool.

So if you care to join us, let’s take a peek this week at how you can avoid the murky waters of subpar translation providers by understanding how accuracy and high quality can be ensured within your translations.

Question: How do you guarantee translation accuracy?

As you may already assume, this is a very complex question – because the answer to accurate translations isn’t as easy as yes or no. Sure, there are words in some languages that fit better than others when it comes to translations, but linguists tend to agree that sometimes there is more than one appropriate way to translate something. While at other times there’s no word-for-word equivalent.

Yet you need to find a way to be sure your translations are accurate and reliable every time. Not to mention consistent with your brand’s messaging and inviting to your prospects and clients. Rather than blindly trusting just any translation provider to supply you with localized content, there are a few things you can ask a translation provider to help you ascertain whether their translations will speak the same language as your target audience.

Qualifying linguists
Knowing how a translation provider qualifies a linguist for your projects is important. Depending on the essence of your industry and content type, there are many linguist qualities that can help you determine whether they are a good fit for translating your content. For example, some content types may require a linguist with certain industry experience or certified training, while other content may require certain skill sets or practice within a particular application or content type. Ask a provider to elaborate on how they will find the right linguist for your company’s translations.

Monitoring linguists
Just as important as choosing the right linguist for your content is to make sure they continue to be the right linguist for your content. If a translation provider doesn’t monitor linguist performance over time, it could be a sign that they are not dedicated to the long-term assurance of your translation quality. Reliable translation providers will use a scoring model to ensure that a linguist’s translations are regularly evaluated. Find out how a translation provider will consistently address a linguist’s performance and your satisfaction with their work before you begin partnering with them – then you won’t have to worry about the missed accuracy of your translations in the future.

Creating style guides and glossaries
Since translations can be very subjective, sharing your company’s style guides and glossaries with a translation vendor from the start can really help them capture and adhere to your business messaging – even when you request multiple languages. This way you don’t have to worry about terminology and messaging inconsistencies across your multilingual content, since style guides and glossaries are made available to any linguist that translates your content. Talk to your translation provider about creating style guides and glossaries so you can preserve accuracy from the beginning.

Requesting samples
Many companies that are just starting the translation process tend to request translation samples from a set amount of providers and then decide on a provider based on its sample. This is very risky, however – especially if you don’t have certified reviewers judging the accuracy of each sample. To learn more about the proper way to address translation samples, see our blog Translation samples: Are they an accurate indicator of translation quality?

Adhering to standards
While not completely essential, certain translation providers do adhere to particular industry standards which help show their dedication to providing clients with high quality content. For example, being certified by The International Organization for Standardization (commonly referred to as ISO), illustrates a translation provider’s commitment to quality management procedures. If this sounds like something that may be valuable at your company, ask a provider about the industry standards they adhere to.

Our suggestions for you:
Translation accuracy is important to your company’s global success, so be sure to inquire about these quality influencers before partnering with a translation provider. While we didn’t address them all – including the use of translation memory, a translation management system, business metrics, etc. – we know that the aforementioned topics will help you weed out unreliable translation vendors. They will also help the provider you do choose understand the quality practices and deliverables that you expect.

A valuable lesson about translation quality is that you should expect it to become increasingly accurate as you continue to partner with a translation provider. Linguists become more familiar with your content, translation memories become more solidified with your messaging and your provider becomes more assured of what you expect in return. If this isn’t the case once you develop a relationship with your translation vendor, be leery.

Keep a lookout for our next post on Questions asked by first-time translation buyers so you can be sure of the best practices in translation when kicking off your translation programs.

Related posts:

Questions posed by first-time translation buyers: How much will translation cost?
Help! How can I express my needs for a better translation process?
Vendor or strategic partner? Creating a valuable relationship with your translation provider