Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between translation and interpreting?
Translation usually refers to written texts and interpreting to spoken language. More information about both modes can be found in the section Services.
What do you need to issue a quote?
In order to be able to issue a quote for translation services, I need information about the length of the text to translate (number of words), the type of text (is it a manual, a marketing document or something else?), the desired delivery date and ideally the text itself or at least representative excerpts. For interpreting quotes I need to know about the type of event and the mode of interpreting (for interpreting types please see Services), the date, length and place of the event at which I am to interpret, for how long I will be needed and what the topic will be. There might be extra charges for travel and accommodation.
How do I need to prepare my documents for translation?
Please send only texts to your translator that have been fully edited and are ready for publishing—changes to the original produce additional work for the translator and incur extra charges. If possible, provide the original text in an editable format, e.g. as MS Word file. There might be surcharges for non-editable formats like PDFs which require a lot of formatting. Furthermore please provide as many reference materials as possible, e.g. glossaries, texts and bilingual documents that were translated in the past, background information on products and similar documents. If you make sure to follow this short guide, you will save a lot of money on translations.
Do you use machine translation, e.g. Google Translate?
No, I do not work with Google Translate or similar machine translation engines, although their quality is improving on a daily basis. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, machine translation does not guarantee a usable, correct and accurate end product. On the other hand, these engines compromise confidentiality: every text that is copied into them will be processed by the provider and is therefore no longer confidential. What I do use is state-of-the-art translation software, which is installed locally on my computer. It saves manually translated sentences so I can re-use them for later projects of the same client and manage terminology and glossaries. Every single one of my client receives their own “translation memory” to ensure that data is used strictly confidentially and not for other clients’ projects.
Why would I use a translator if Google Translate can do it for free? What additional value do human translators and interpreters provide?
As mentioned above, machine translation is still far from perfect. And nobody reads your text as closely as your translator: they will often notice mistakes and ambiguities that have so far slipped through the reviewing process. This way, you can be sure to avoid costly mistakes in the original text and have the opportunity to have your text reviewed again by an independent party. Another shortcoming of machine translation is context: a machine will always translate texts the same way, no matter whether it is a technical manual or a client-facing marketing document they are processing.
In interpreting, technological aids are as of yet still few and far between and the common misconception is that everyone can communicate in English as the lingua franca. However it is always easier to express yourself and convince others in your native tongue. Relax and let your professional interpreter take care of how to render your speech eloquently in the foreign language.
Are my documents treated confidentially?
Of course! My services are completely GDPR compliant and my terms and conditions contain corresponding clauses which also apply to colleagues that I work with.
Do you do any quality assurance?
Yes! Why? Because humans make mistakes and even the best translator is no different to anyone else in this regard. For this very reason, I have all my translations (for direct clients) proofread by a trusted and competent colleague or expert in the field. This service is of course already covered by the original project quote.
The translator is asking questions about the text. Is that a good sign?
If a translator sends you questions about your text, it is definitely a good sign: it means that they are having a very close look at the material they are working with and want to make sure that the readers of the translation receive information that is as accurate—and correct—as possible. After all, there are very few texts that contain no ambiguities if you scrutinise them.
Do interpreters or translators need any qualifications?
Translators and interpreters are not legally protected terms: not everyone who speaks or understands a foreign language is automatically a good translator or interpreter. Many translators and interpreters study the subject, however others join the profession later on after a career in a different sector. The second type of translators and interpreters usually go through a course as well, which teaches them special skills and techniques as well as the use of modern technological aids. These courses or degrees usually take about three years to complete but are an indispensable investment.
How do I find good translators or interpreters?
Qualified translators or interpreters have either a degree or many years of experience in the industry—which is also one of the requirements according to the industry standard ISO 17100. A good way of finding such qualified individuals are professional associations which check their members‘ qualifications or even test them before they get their own profile on the association’s website. These member directories are usually searchable by language combinations and subject areas. In the UK, the ITI (www.iti.org.uk) offers such a directory, in Germany it is the BDÜ (bdue.de).
If you are interested in further tips and advice for translation buyers, please have a look at the brochure “Translation: getting it right” (available in Downloads).