Translators and interpreters
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Commissioning a translation
Commissioning a translation is a more complex process than is often understood. When you contact a translator directly, the work will be easier to discuss if you can provide the following initial information:
- What is the language of your original document, and into what language does it need to be translated?
Bear in mind that professional translators overwhelmingly work into their mother tongue only, so a translator offering Spanish-English translation will not necessarily provide English-Spanish translation.
- What is the rough subject area of the document?
Documents containing technical terms - law, medicine, architecture, etc. - often require a translator that specialises in the relevant field.
- Who is the translation for?
A marketing text on a public website, for example, is likely to require more honing to ensure customer appeal than a company-internal document.
- Is the document on paper, or a pdf file, or a Microsoft Word file, or a spreadsheet, or other format such as Powerpoint, and how long is it - how many words in total?
If the document is in an electronic format such as Microsoft Word, then the software for it should be able to provide a word count.
- What is the deadline for the work?
Depending on workload, a translator may not be able to accept an urgent commission.
A translator will usually be able to judge whether the commission could be accepted based on the above information (though you may be asked to send the original document to assess its technical field, and so on), and will be able to discuss pricing. This is generally calculated from a 'per 1000 words' or 'per line' rate, but may be 'per hour' for certain kinds of work. Factors affecting pricing include:
If an urgent commission requires evening or weekend work, this is likely to raise the cost.
- Format of original and layout work required
If the original document features extensive tables or charts, and is available only on paper or as a read-only file such as PDF, reproducing these features in the translation if they are required is likely to raise cost.
If you are able to agree pricing, timescale and payment terms, and the translator accepts the commission, some further points to consider during and after the work include:
- Existing materials
If you have similar documents for the translator to follow as 'models', or an in-house 'style guide', or bilingual glossary, or other reference materials, you should make these available to the translator to maximise consistency.
Any document may contain material that requires clarification before it can be translated. You should provide the translator with contact details for anyone available to answer these kinds of questions.
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