E.g., 04/05/2020
E.g., 04/05/2020

18 Questions All Good Translation Companies Will Ask Before Starting Work On Your Project

When searching for a translation company, you will probably face a difficult choice, as most of them provide exactly the same arguments. They boast about meeting deadlines, providing the highest quality possible, and satisfying their customers. Sometimes it is true, and sometimes it is not. It’s difficult to decide which translation company you should turn to. How do you know if a company hires professionals, or students earning minimum salary? Just like in other industries, a good translation bureau can be recognized based on the questions they ask before accepting a job. You can use this information to verify whether or not the company is interested in delivering translated content that satisfies your needs. After agreeing on two fundamental issues, namely the language pair and the deadline, you should move on to discuss these important details.

  1. Are the materials you want translated internal documents of a company that will be used by only a few people, in which case the deadline has higher priority than 100% linguistic correctness? Or maybe these are marketing materials for the latest release of your product, and the quality has to be verified by numerous independent proofreaders, as it is high visibility content that will represent the company’s brand.
  2. Does the client wish their content to be proofread and verified by native speakers, or is it not necessary?
  3. Is the client able to provide some earlier translation works or materials that the translated content needs to be consistent with?
  4. Does the client have their own glossary, containing a list of preferred terms? It’s quite common that clients choose one particular word out of a group of synonyms and want it to be used throughout their materials.
  5. Are there any terms that have to be avoided due to legal reasons, copyrights, etc.?
  6. Does the client have a translation memory (TM), used in previous translation jobs performed by some other translation companies?
  7. Do they use any computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools internally?
  8. Do they want to receive a translation memory file (i.e. a file that will allow ensuring compliance with previous translations in case the client decides to change their translation vendor) along with the translated materials?
  9. If the material is lengthy and the deadline is short, does the client allow the text to be translated by numerous translators? A good translation bureau should mention here the tools that allow them to make the entire text consistent, as well as about the time needed to do that.
  10. In what form does the client want to address the reader? Directly or indirectly? In a formal or informal style?
  11. Do they prefer simple phrases or sophisticated language? Is it acceptable to assume that the reader is male, or both sexes need to be treated equally?
  12. Does the client need a desktop publishing (DTP) job in addition to the translation job?
  13. What about the text in illustrations? Should it be replaced with translations using photo editing software, or is it enough to deliver the translations of the terms from the illustrations in a separate file?
  14. What file format does the client prefer? Do they have any special needs or remarks?
  15. What bothered them about the translation companies they had worked with earlier?
  16. Are the materials restricted and confidential? Is it necessary to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?
  17. Is the client able to provide reference materials, e.g. a demo version of the software the manual for which they want translated?
  18. In case of ambiguous forms or phrases, is it possible to call the client and consult them about the proper interpretation?

Only after gathering all this information, it is possible to realize a translation job properly. This information allows a translation company to identify the needs of the client, as well as to determine what has to be done for the client to feel satisfied. Knowing the answers to these questions, a translation vendor is able to estimate the timeline for the job, and prepare a quotation. Therefore, next time you ask a company about a translation job, and they immediately come up with a price and a term without asking any of the above mentioned questions, you have the right to feel concerned.

Michal Dadan leads a team of translators and proofreaders specializing in technical, marketing, and IT translations at DADAN Translations. He has translated 23 books himself and is always eager to help with linguistic issues. His hobbies are electronics, mountain hiking, and RC helicopters.