Professional translation is an often used term. So what do we mean when we say that we offer a professional translation service?

Many people claim to be able to translate.

However, our translators all hold appropriate professional qualifications. Not only that, but they always work into their native language. They also only translate in areas where they have relevant expertise. All good translators specialise.

Should I contract a freelancer, or work with a translation company?

Okay, I hear you say, so I’ll go and contract a good freelancer. Well you could, but how do you check the work? Even the best translators can have a bad day. Our translations should be well written, and typo free, even at first draft, but translations should always be checked. What if your Chinese translator sends you the wrong file by mistake? Would you know?

What if your Welsh translator has their out of office message on e-mail? Read this hilarious story from the BBC, about the possible consequences.

Types of professional translation

Different types of translation also require different skills. So yes, they need different translators. We wouldn’t use a technical translator who specialises in mechanical engineering to write your email marketing campaign in Norwegian.

Different types of text also require different strategies by the translator. The style and tone of the text will also be different depending on the intended audience. Writing for an academic audience is very different to writing for the general public for instance.

A good translator is a good terminologist

All translation requires specialist knowledge as well as vocabulary. The translator needs to understand what they are working with. A good translator is a good terminologist, they understand the technical terms of a given specialism in both languages. New terms may need research. For example, is it a new to world term? What do you do when there isn’t a target language equivalent.

Type of translation

The translator’s task is very different with different types of text as well. For example, legal translation is all about reflecting the source text. The original probably wasn’t very readable, and so the translation won’t be either. Why is this? Legal translation is all about extracting meaning, and fidelity to the original. You should judge its quality by how well it reflects the original text.

Marketing translation by contrast, is very different. The flow and feel of the text in the target language is all important here. The translator often needs to be more lateral therefore. They need to have the freedom to make changes relative to the original. Is the translation very different to the original? Do I care, providing it achieves its purpose without misrepresenting the product? The test here is really one of equivalence. If the aim of your product packaging is that your customer buys the product, you also want your Spanish or French customer to do the same. Your translation won’t achieve this by slavishly following the English text. This is because it needs to read naturally to your French or Spanish audience.

Next steps

If you are looking for professional translation, send us an email via our contact page. Alternatively you are welcome to call us on +44 (0)115 9788980.