Valid Question: Does your translator have a technical background?
Answer: The short answer is yes or more accurately, absolutely yes! See below for the detailed answer.
I received a question from a client today that I feel was very valid and I am glad she asked it. When responding to her, I thought that this information might help others with the same question.
We had provided a quote for some technical documents they need translated. This client has been with us for years and does a lot of projects with us. But they usually come to us for script translation, multilingual voiceover, and subtitling.
So, they don’t have a lot of experience with our document/content translation services and their work is rarely technical.
Client exchange about technical translation quality
Here’s her actual question.
Question, for this project there is a need for a technical person so they can understand some of the verbiage since there are words that can be used multiple ways, do you have, or is your translator someone that has a technical background?
I like any questions about our language services and I think people don’t ask enough questions. Language services are hard to buy sometimes because buyers can’t immediately evaluate what they are getting. We always recommend that clients send our translations to natives for feedback. We do this for a couple of reasons, but the biggest reason is so that they can be confident they have something good and they know we deliver high-quality translations.
Here’s the slightly edited response to her question that I think might help others, but doesn’t share anything confidential about the client or their business.
I double-checked the content. We do things like this all the time for manufacturers, and this is pretty simple compared to other technical content we work with.
It’s a good question because there are a lot of companies who just send any content to any translator. And today, you’ll see far more unqualified linguists who barely have a grasp of their own language than in the past. Think of how many native English people you wouldn’t trust to create technical content for your company. Many would just not do a great job, but they are still native English. Now imagine your content being sent to a company that doesn’t even verify the translator is native much less qualified.
Nevertheless, we are very different in this respect to other companies. Our processes, technology and people are more advanced because we have been doing this for so long and we invest significantly in each. We have teams of people in each language who specialize in different disciplines. Legal, technical, medical, marketing, etc. are always a factor based on what’s being translated. For English to German, we have teams in each of the disciplines and over 150 native German linguists to choose from, but a smaller set that specialize in technical manufacturing content. That’s on top of what native, professional, certified linguists are capable of doing within their language when it is truly their profession.
Having said all that, it’s important to note that companies might have word preferences for certain terms. We won’t know those unless they share them with us. So, if we translate “thumb screws” and German has two completely acceptable versions of that term and your client prefers one over the other, then we wouldn’t know. In that case, they let us know, we update the translation to their preferred term and then track it in a database for any future translation and remind our teams of their preferred terms. But a discussion of preferred terms usually only comes up with companies who have a lot of experience and content in the target language.
Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Sometimes it’s hard to know how much information a client wants or needs and sometimes I overshoot the need, but in this case, her response suggested that I covered what she was looking for.
Thank you, Daniel. This was extremely helpful.
Translation quality and accuracy are not found accidentally.
I am so glad she reached out instead of assuming we would do the right thing. A lot of people do unscrupulous things in our industry because the customers are buying something they can’t immediately validate, and not enough people ask questions like she did. No translation is perfect, but we work really hard to get as good as we can and if we make a mistake, it’s not because we have lousy people, tech, or processes. It’s just because it’s impossible to always get all the variables perfect.
I think this is why we have such a low client turnover. We really try to undersell and over-deliver, and it really seems to resonate with our clients. It’s because we know that you don’t accidentally find accuracy and quality in language services. You continually strive to find them.
Anyway, if you have read this, hopefully, it helps you and you’ll reach out if you need something we can help you with.