At MTM LinguaSoft, we know that our strongest professional asset is our trusted network of linguists. In this update, we’d like to share some of our strategies for ensuring that our clients’ projects are handled by professionals who are not only fluent in two languages and two cultures, but who are also experts in our clients’ industries. This is not easy, and we are very careful about screening translators and assigning work.
Translators are writers
Think about all the native speakers of English you meet in a day—then consider how many of these might be professional-grade writers. A translator is first and foremost a writer, and must have excellent writing skills to be able to make the source material readable. We make sure that unless the client requests otherwise, we assign linguists to translate only into their native language. Quality translation that reads naturally is best done by native speakers; some translators might be perfectly bilingual, but not necessarily trained to write professionally in both languages.
In addition, major languages like English, Spanish, and Portuguese—and rarer languages such as Hmong—are spoken in many countries across the globe. We need to select a translator from the correct culture. Spanish for Madrid might be very different from Spanish for Mexico City. Furthermore, if the material is intended to reach an immigrant group in the United States, their country of origin does not necessarily dictate their native language. For example, Philadelphia is home to a large community of Bhutanese, but their native language is not Bhutanese; it is Nepali. Finding a translator who can communicate in the correct regional dialect is key.
Specialized translations need specialized knowledge
If a translator is working with any specialized text—think legal documents, instructions for medical devices, clinical trials, or manufacturing specifications—he or she must have expert-level knowledge of that field. In specialty fields, translators must be trained in the terminology, either through graduate programs in translation that offer certifications in particular subject areas, or through training or experience working in the field itself. Translators in the information technology field must be familiar with a variety of types of software applications and must be intellectually flexible to quickly understand the new applications for which they are providing localization.
Translators are professionals
Beyond talent and training, we look for translators who are professionals with good communication and research skills, excellent time management skills, attention to detail, and facility with computer aided translation tools used to streamline work and maintain quality control.
How do we insure that we are assigning our projects to the correct people? Our translators come to us from many sources. The American Translators Association provides certification testing in a number of popular language pairs, and a translator who has been tested and certified has been vouched for by an organization we trust. A number of excellent graduate-level translation programs provide credentials; although we expect at least five years of professional experience in addition to a degree, we can be sure that these programs are training translators well. We always ask prospective translators for at least three professional references from other language service providers like ourselves in order to verify not only their skills, but their professionalism as well. Finally, for certain specialized projects, we might request test translations of similar source materials to verify that a translator is familiar with the terminology and, in some cases, the technology we are using to facilitate information transfer.
Selecting the right team of translators is essential to our business success, and to the success of our clients. Be assured that we work hard to establish strong connections with the professionals who partner with us to extend your business across languages and cultures.