Why Communication is Key During the Translation Process

By United Language Group

When a document needs to be translated, it’s tempting to plug the words into Google Translate or log onto Upwork to find a freelancer who specializes in the language you need. While these methods might seem easier — submit one document and receive a different one in a new language — achieving the highest quality translation usually requires more interaction between the translator and client. This is one of the main benefits of working with a Language Solutions Partner (LSP).

LSPs will ask the right questions and have tried-and-true client communication practices in place to make the translation process seamless. As is the case with any effective projects or collaborations, transparency and communication are key components to success, and the translation process is no exception to the rule.

Here are some of the top reasons why communication between translators and clients is essential, and how it can improve the speed, quality, and cost of your translation project. Following these five steps will increase the likelihood that your end product will be a success.

Understanding goals at the outset

Kickoff meetings or introductory phone calls between the LSP and client will help establish goals, allow the LSP to understand the target audience, and gain a better idea of the resources required for the project—machine translation, subject matter experts, linguists, etc. This will also be the time to establish a timeline, projected cost, and milestones, especially for large-scale projects.

Asking questions about localization and the target audience

Translation involves much more than substituting a word in one language for a different word in another. Factors like localization also play an important role.

At the project’s outset, an LSP may ask questions such as:

  • What is the final form that the document will take—a technical manual, a website, safety instructions for a medical device?
  • Who will be reading the translated content, and what kind of cultural factors will need to be taken into consideration? For example, if a brochure needs to be translated from Spanish to English, will the translation be Standard American English, the Queen’s English, or another dialect entirely?
  • Should the tone be formal or colloquial?

Knowing the audience and its localization needs at the beginning of a project will avoid extensive revisions later on.

Understanding the company and project context

An LSP will want to know about a client’s background before starting translation work. This might include having the client provide previously translated content, the company’s history, branding and style guidelines, and preferred terminology when applicable.

The client may also wish to share how this piece of content fits into the broader company context. If the LSP is translating a white paper about artificial intelligence, what other white papers on this topic and in general has the client produced? Will the project be seen in isolation, like a contract, or is it part of a larger project, like a marketing strategy?

These questions will further help the LSP refine the individual piece of translated content to ensure it aligns with the company’s broader context and goals.

Scheduling periodic check-ins to review progress and questions

For long projects in particular, creating a set of milestones during which individual parts of the project will be due helps to keep work on track and address any additional questions or issues that arise.

For example, the LSP might have questions for a client regarding the use of a certain word or phrase. In cases where multiple words can be used, the LSP might wish to provide the client with a list of possible translations to choose from to best ascertain the desired meaning.

Finalizing the project through in-country reviews

Having ongoing conversations throughout the translation process will minimize the need for final edits. However, it is always a good idea for an in-country review to take place before the project is completely finished.

An in-house or in-country reviewer should work on the client side to make any final tweaks, such as swapping out a phrase to better match the company’s house style or reflect any recent changes within the organization. With this final feedback and approval, the project is complete.

An LSP That Earns Your Trust

When clients and translators work through the translation process together, there will be fewer revisions, which in turn minimizes the duration and cost of the entire project while increasing satisfaction. When researching a translator or LSP for your project, choose one that prioritizes client communication and transparency, and will therefore earn your trust.  

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