FAQ #6: What can I (the client) do to facilitate the best translation outcome?

Note: This is an on-going series of Q&As I have compiled in order to introduce new and potential clients to my Arabic<>English translation services. Have a question of your own? Ask it here.

Question: What can I (the client) do to facilitate the best translation outcome?

Answer: In order to get the best translation possible, there are several things you can do as a translation buyer to facilitate the process.

1. If possible, have the source text thoroughly edited before you send it out for translation.

When a source text is riddled with typos, contains grammar errors, is poorly formatted, or doesn’t make logical sense for any reason, translators naturally become less efficient. Professional translators are highly adept at deciphering complicated texts (and will go the extra mile to offer both accuracy and elegance), but we are not mind-readers, and it’s not always possible to create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

2. Be generous with deadlines, and plan ahead so that translation jobs do not suddenly become “urgent.”

Since translation is a multi-layered process requiring meticulous attention to detail, quality may suffer if a translator becomes rushed and unable to perform the research needed to provide an accurate translation. Shorter deadlines also mean less time for editing and revision. Work with your chosen translator to determine a reasonable deadline, and be flexible if a trusted translator requests extra time to perform a translation task.

3. Provide access to a text’s author (or to someone else who can answer questions about the text).

4. Provide translators with as much information about a text as possible.

  • What is the purpose of the text?
  • Who wrote it, and why?
  • What is the country of origin?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Will the text be published?
  • How old is the text?
  • Why is the text being translated?

The answers to these and other questions help translators better understand what is required from a particular translation job.

5. Provide translators with a detailed style-guide.

If you have certain preferences (like using the serial comma, always capitalizing a particular word, using specific in-house terminology, etc.), the time to mention that is before a translator starts working, not after the work is already done.

Requests for stylistic changes after a translation is finished often take considerable time to implement and may result in extra charges.

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