Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in a freelance translator’s office?
There’s a lot more to running a freelance business than the translating itself, but in this post I’ll be focusing on the actual translation process, or what goes on between the project being accepted and delivered.
Whether you’re a client who’d like to know a little more about how your translator transforms the source text you send them into the finished product, or are curious about becoming a translator yourself and what to know what it would actually involve, read on to find out more about how it all works.
- Preparing the files
When those files first come through from the client, there is always some preparation that needs doing, although larger projects split up into multiple files will make this stage more time consuming.
All the relevant folders need to be created and, and then I’ll do an initial read through of the document before I begin translation.
- Initial queries
I do my best to cover all the bases with the brief I send to clients with my quotes asking for details about the project. But, inevitably, there will always a few more questions I need to ask once I’ve had a chance to read through the files.
Sometimes these are small details, meaning I can get started with the translation before answers come through from the client, but sometimes it makes more sense to wait for an answer before I get cracking.
- Translation tools
To do the actual translation, a professional translator will, in most cases, rely on some kind of translation tool. I upload the documents to be translated along with any translation memories and glossaries that are relevant to the project, and then get translating.
Translation software divide files up into translatable ‘segments’ and lets the translator know what percentage of the file is complete so they can track their progress.
- Research (terminology)
No matter how much of an expert a translator is on the topic, there are nearly always going to be new terms that come up, or things they’re slightly unsure of. Similarly, there might be existing, official translations out there for certain things, such as names of organizations.
Essentially, whenever a translator needs confirmation of something they turn to the internet and do a deep dive into the usage of the term. Depending on what they find and the nature of the translation, they might confirm this with the client before delivery.
Once a translation is completed, a translator normally runs a Quality Assurance (QA) tool to pick up any mistakes they might have missed.
When you’ve been focusing on a translation for hours, days or even weeks on end, you inevitably become blind to tiny but crucial details, like a missing number here or an extra space there.
Sometimes, if the translator works in tandem with a fellow freelancer, the file will be sent on to them so it has a fresh pair of eyes on it that can pick up any small mistakes and suggest any necessary changes.
If they’re working with a translation agency, the translator will normally run a QA check and then send it in, and it will be reviewed by the agency before delivery.
This often isn’t necessary, especially if a translation tool has been used that has been able to preserve the fomatting of the original document, or if it’s the content of the document that matters to the client rather that the asthetics.
In some cases, however, a translator will have to take the time to ensure that the formatting of the original has been preserved.
And that’s the end of that! Having taken all the steps above and made sure I’m happy with the standard of the finished product, I send it off to the client, and turn my attention to the next project.
Of course, all this will run smoothly when there are clearly set instructions and expectations. Find out how I create a translation brief before starting any project.