As the world grows smaller; people travel across the globe more frequently and more business is done internationally, translation services are increasingly in demand. A translation service can now be needed for anything from the translation of an education certificate to translating a website. Due to the demand there are now hundreds of translation agencies across the globe.
Finding a translation service can be daunting. Where does one start to look for a translation service and when they find one, how do they know if they will be able to do the job well? What questions should one ask? This article will offer some useful tips on how to find a translation service to meet your needs.
Where to find a translation service?
There are three main ways of finding a translation service.
The first port of call should be your local directory such as the Yellow Pages. If you have a specific business directory for your area then even better. Simply look up “translation” or it may sometimes be under “translators & interpreters”. Have thumb through the listings and earmark some to contact.
The second, and easiest, means of finding a translation service is through the internet. Using the main search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN can bring up hundreds of listings. One added advantage of using a search engine is that you can be more specific with your searches. For example, if you are looking for a translation service local to you type “translation service London” or “translation service Oxford”. Similarly if you are in need of a specific language try something like “German translation service”.
With search engine results you will be presented with two types of listings, paid listings (advertisements) and organic listings (non-advertised results). It is good to bear in mind that those with organic listings are there for a reason, i.e. the search engine naturally sees them as important sites for translation services. On the other hand paid listings will be from companies that need the business. This is not necessarily a negative thing but good to consider when making a choice.
The last means of finding a translation service is to ask colleagues, friends or family. A personal recommendation is always best.
Contacting the translation service
Once you have a list of the translation service providers you want to contact, it is then key that you are prepared with information necessary to get an accurate quote.
Any decent translation service will want to know what languages they are translating from and into, the length of the document (especially the number of source words), the nature of the text (is it business or technical?), the format of the document (is it a paper document, an email or brochure?), when you need the translation delivered by and if necessary what format it should be delivered in. These details will help the translation service price your piece of work. However, remember that many translation service providers may not give you a concrete quote until they see the document. This is because once they see it they may realise they under-quoted you due to unforeseen elements such as the format, poor image quality or technicality of the document. It is always a good idea to have your translation in a format that can be emailed or faxed.
When speaking to the customer service agent make sure you thoroughly explain your needs. A good translation service however will always ask the right questions so they get a decent grasp of what you will need.
Questions to ask the translation service
Once you have established the cost of your translation it is always a good idea to probe the translation service with a few more questions to gain a better understanding of their capabilities.
For example here are 10 basic questions:
1. If they gave you on price, ask what their charge is per 1000 words?
2. Will they charge you per source word or per target word? For example, if you are having a document translated from Italian to English, Italian will be the source language.
3. Is the quote they gave you fixed? i.e. they can not charge you more afterwards.
4. Are all their translators qualified? What is their procedure for hiring translators?
5. Do their translators work solely into their native languages?
6. If your deadline is missed how will you still have to pay?
7. Does the price include proof-reading by another translator?
8. If your translation is specific or technical, do the translators have experience in the subject matter?
9. What format will they return your translation in?
10. If it is a large or important job it is possible to ask for a trial translation – however, this may not always be free.
These questions for your translation service should give you some insight into their understanding of the industry and their capabilities.
Which translation service?
Ultimately for many people, when it comes to the crunch they choose a translation service based on cost, location and speed of service. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to choose a translation service and it is really up to the individual to go with what they feel it best for them.
In the general scheme of things most translation service providers are bona fide and professional outfits. If when asking the questions above to a translation service you sense a level of uncertainty then it may be best to go with the service that seems to know what you want and how to give it to you.