Re: How to find good translators / translation agency

Subject: Re: How to find good translators / translation agency
From: "Simon North" <Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com>
To: "Christine Leisgen" <Christine -dot- Leisgen -at- gmgcolor -dot- com>, <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 16:04:36 +0200


I've been a freelance translator since 1976. I still have a 'day job'
so I work mostly through agencies as they then take care of a
lot of the overhead. I also work on the 'other side of the fence'
so, though other will no doubt send you much longer reports,
I will try to give you what short tips spring to mind:

1. Make sure they guarantee either a native speaking translator,
or at the very least quality control by a native speaker.

2. Aim to set up a long-term relationship. Some of the recent
translations I have done include French documentation for
access control systems (airport ticket gates), Belgian reports
on the underground disposal on nuclear waste, German reports
on exploding solar heat collector systems, Dutch employment
contracts, Belgian pigeon feed instructions, and statements
by German government departments. Sometimes the vocabulary
can be really, really obscure and occasionally particular to a
single company (or they have a really dumb preferred translation
that they will cling to like death rather than admit that it's silly).

A good translator WILL come back with questions (it's a good
sign when an agency passes on a translator's questions). In
particular, unless you are really lucky (I consider the fact that
I am a technical writer and an electronics engineer a real bonus to
my work as a translator) even the best translator will get it wrong
occasionally. So, teach him/her. Give feedback (bad and good ...
nearly everyone forgets to say when I've done a good job, but one
typo in a 15,000 word document and they'll come hammering at
your inbox like it was the screwup of the century). Ideally, you
should be looking to work with a single agency (and hopefully
the same translator) and over a few months you will come to
know each other and work together well.

Your Excel sheet is an excellent idea. When I get sheets like that
I convert them into translation memory entries. I may not be
able to use them directly but I can call them up for concordance.
XML is a given, I'd be surprised to meet a competent translator who
can't handle XML and HTML.

I hope this is of some use.

Regards, Simon.

Simon North, Technical Writer.
Quintiq Application Software BV
's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

"Computer interfaces and user interfaces are as different as night and

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How to find good translators / translation agency: From: Christine Leisgen

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