6 steps to an efficient translation flow
Professional translation is a complex process involving information management, research, customer interaction and meticulous attention to detail. It also includes planning the tasks to be completed and ensuring there are systems in place to help translators manage the difficulties of a project and of delivery deadline expectations. So, here is our suggested effective translation workflow:
The first step is to carefully read the original texts/documents and consult all the support materials the customer may have provided. It is important to highlight the more problematic terms, expressions and passages as you prepare and plan the task.
The next step is to research the terms and concepts in anticipation of any problems that might arise with the original text. The internet is one of the professional translator’s best “friends”, offering access to many online dictionaries and glossaries and the ability to quickly gather information about the subject of the text. However, it is important only to use reliable sources. The translator should also not be afraid to seek clarification from the customer, particularly in respect of documents covering highly technical or specialised topics.
3. First Draft
The next step is the first translation. In most cases, this process involves the use of CAT tools (machine translation), which the translator will treat suspiciously because they know it can result in mistakes or mistranslations – particularly when the specific glossary for the text in question is not yet complete. The process of preparing this first draft and its revision for errors of grammar and spelling may result in more queries being raised, which should be resolved by repeating the second step (research).
4. Second Draft and Comparison
The fourth step is the creation of a second draft that is based on all the collected information. This must be compared line-by-line with the original document to ensure its integrity, accuracy and consistency in both format and content. This second draft must be carefully reviewed using all the word processing and CAT tools at the translator’s disposal, which should also include the text-specific glossary (which in this phase should be more effective) while recording all changes made.
As the old saying goes: more haste, less speed. After finalising the second draft, it is always a good idea to walk away for a few hours (overnight, if possible).
Unfortunately, short deadlines often make it difficult (or even impossible) to do this. However, it is essential to take a break to create some distance from the work, to clear your head and return with new eyes that will spot “hidden” typos, mistakes and inconsistencies.
The last step involves a final read through of the text without referring to the original document. This will uncover the “hidden” errors and typos and ensure the quality and consistency of the content. In other words, it will produce a final text that is a faithful reflection of the original while also standing out in its own right, without the need for external references or further clarification. Once finalised, and if it has been requested, the text can also be prepared using a desktop publishing program that will ensure the translation has the same graphic quality and appearance as the original. The translation is now ready to be returned to the customer!