If you Google “translator”, you’ll get about 150,000,000 results. If you can get past the first ones, which mainly list “automatic translation” tools, you’ll start getting numerous options for translation service providers. This is where you start to have doubts: with so many available options, which criteria should you consider to choose the right solution? You can always use the old method of contacting a bunch of them and choosing the cheapest one. Or the one that offers the earliest delivery date. But then again, “haste makes waste”.
Then, you’ll see that there are companies and freelancers. You start wondering what the differences between them are. Hiring a company may seem more reliable. On the other hand, you suspect the prices will be much higher. Let’s say your train of thought leads you to decide that it is best to work with a freelancer. There are still too many options and, without references, there is no way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The needle in the haystack: we’ve seen that a search engine will be far too generic. Websites like Zaask or Upwork will give you a list of professionals with reviews from their former clients and you can usually filter by service type, location, etc. Then, you’ll receive bids from the professionals that are interested in providing you with the service and you can review them and choose the best one. In the more specific case of translation, you can search for professionals with the skills you require or publish job offers on websites like ProZ.com or TranslatorsCafé.com. ProZ.com, for instance, features the Certified PRO Network, a group of professionals whose academic background and credentials have been verified, as well as their linguistic, technical and research skills. It also confirms their reliability and what ProZ calls “good citizenship”. Professional associations are also a reliable source. In Portugal, you can search among the members of APTRAD or APT for professionals with the required skills. In both cases, you can filter the members by service type (translation, interpreting) and specialization field. Ideally, a translator will have an academic background in Languages or in Translation and additional training or solid experience in a specific field, like medical sciences, engineering, marketing, etc. There are also several cases of translators with an academic background in other fields and additional training in translations and/or proven experience.
The job offer: now that you’ve narrowed down the list of options, you have a group of duly qualified professionals that you can contact in order to receive offers for the job you need. When contacting the selected translator(s), there are several things you should tell them if you want to receive an accurate and satisfactory reply:
- The document type or format: ideally, you should send the file or a sample so that the translator can have a look. If that’s not possible, it’s important that you mention the subject field or scope of the document (a contract, a CV, web content) and the format you will be providing the document in (Word, Excel, PDF).
- The required language: it may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the amount of translation requests that don’t mention the target language. And also, keep in mind the target country and specify the language variant, such as Brazilian Portuguese, Latin American Spanish or American English.
- Delivery date: specify the date you need to receive the translated document. Keep in mind that a professional translator will translate 2000-3000 words per day but this daily throughput can be influenced by several factors, such as the technical difficulty of the document or the translator’s availability.
- The purpose of the translated document: finally, it’s important to specify the goal of the translated document. With this information, the translator can advise on the most adequate type of service. For instance, if the translation is to be printed or published, a proofreading step may be added after the design stage and before the printing itself, to eliminate possible typos or formatting issues. When translating software, it may be useful to have a testing phase to check if any buttons or hyperlinks are working. With legal documents, it may be necessary to get the translation certified by a notary public or the country’s consulate.
The order: I’d say that you now have all the tools you need to find your ideal translator. You just have to make a formal request, after agreeing on the price and payment terms, get the translation done, be extremely pleased with it and… write up a good review of the professional that helped you.