ULG's Language Services Blog

Better Relationships, Better Translations

If you’re like many of our clients, you spend a lot of time and money developing high-quality English content. A lot of thought goes into the strategy, research, writing, design and production. Then you realize you have to get it localized.

The challenge is, like writing, translation can be subjective. For instance, in Latin America there are at least 10 ways to translate the word “bean”. And words can have many different meanings. For example, many technology companies operate in the “cloud”. However, until recently, a cloud was just a thing in the sky that might block the sun.

So how do you ensure your translated content is the same caliber as the original? Especially when you don’t speak the language into which you’re having something translated!

Quality translation is achieved through a number of important steps: It starts with experienced and trained linguists, brings in sophisticated translation software, and always involves a rigorous QA check. There’s an additional secret weapon, though! And, it’s one that over time can be just as powerful as any other quality check depending on the volume and your review process. Building a strong relationship between the linguist and the in-house reviewer increases efficiency, consistency and quality.

According to Common Sense Advisory “Many translation quality disputes between enterprises and language service providers (LSPs) arise from the lack of communication and a mismatch of … expectations.”

Not everyone relies on an ‘in-house’ reviewer to approve translations, but a lot do. This person usually is a native speaker of the language, and they are asked for their input on the translation because they know your brand or end user. This stage of translation can be a pain point for some – it’s possible that the in house reviewer sends back a page filled with mark ups, and you might wonder what this gap is between the translation service provided, and your reviewer’s marks. Why is this so challenging?

Language is incredibly complex and versatile – which means it’s hard to agree on. It’s like putting three people in a room with a paint swatch, and asking them what color it is – one will say blue, one person will say green, and the third will say teal. No one is wrong – but everyone thinks they are right. To move forward, an agreement has to be made – make a decision that the paint swatch is blue once, note it, and you’re free to move on.

Between your in-house reviewers and your language services provider, this conversation should happen, and may be many conversations. While the back and forth might feel concerning, we’ve found that it’s an important place where understanding is built. Over time, the linguist will learn from the reviewers input, and vice versa, until eventually questions are answered and communication moves to a minimum. The relationship develops, review time diminishes, and – most importantly – trust is built.

We’ve seen it happen – after investing in direct linguist < > reviewer relationships we’ve seen total delivery time reduce, greater client satisfaction – and in some cases, the removal of in-house review entirely. They just didn’t feel like it was necessary anymore.

Opening this direct link allows the relationship to build and flourish. Email communication is great – regular calls to address open questions are even better. Style guides and glossaries can be great tools to facilitate these conversations initially.

When partnered with a quality minded process, the linguist < > reviewer relationship is a powerful tool. Language and translation are inherently human, after all, so it makes sense that better the relationship, the better the output.