Let’s be honest – when you set out to choose a translator, you’ll probably find so many of us that it’s overwhelming. Here are some things to consider:
There’s always an element of risk when you hire someone for the first time. So before you choose a translator, ask your colleagues or network for recommendations. A translator’s previous clients will be able to tell you whether they are reliable and open to feedback, stick to their deadlines and do what they say they’ll do.
Language skills and cultural knowledge
That’s probably the most obvious one. Of course your translator will need to have a deep knowledge of the languages they are translating out of and into. Ideally they’ll spend time in countries where their working languages are spoken, in order to stay up to date with current usage and cultural issues.
Formal qualifications aren’t everything. However, they can indicate whether the translator has specific translation expertise rather than just being good at languages. However tempting it might be to ask your colleague who once spent a semester in the UK to help you out, remember that translation is a skill in itself, and bear that in mind when you choose a translator.
Unless your text is a very general one, it’s a good idea to choose a translator with experience in your sector. They’ll be able to work more quickly and accurately if they’re already familiar with any specialist terminology. They may have experience of translating in your area or even have worked in it in other roles. And a good translator will stay informed about developments in their area of specialisation.
Translators may be able to show you work they’ve done previously, assuming it’s not under NDA. You could ask someone who’s familiar with both languages to tell you whether the translation sounds good. If the translator doesn’t have any work that they’re allowed to share, they may be willing to do a short (paid) translation to give you an idea of their style and so you can find out whether you’re a good fit for each other.
Does the translator’s quote include a proofreading step by a second person? When you’ve been focusing on a text for a long time, it can be hard to notice the little things that could be improved. So choose a translator who works with a proofreader, because that second pair of eyes is invaluable.
When selecting a translator, see if they’re a member of a professional body. Unlike many professions, translation is not regulated. But there are various translation organisations (mine is here), and membership indicates a commitment to the profession and to certain standards. Members can often access training, advice, networking opportunities and mentoring schemes, which will also benefit clients in the long term.
Still finding it hard to choose a translator?
Once you’ve considered all those things, it comes down to chemistry – whether you feel like the translator would be a good fit for you. After all, when you’ve put your heart and soul into your content, it’s important to know that your words will be in safe hands.
Here are some reasons why, when you come to choose a translator, I think you should pick me 🙂 In German with English subtitles.
And if you want to find out what I can do for you, have a look at my Services page.