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November 14, 2016
We’re all living and working in an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing world and year on year the business world becomes more demanding and competitive. The need for speed is now more important than ever to a company’s growth and survival especially when time is perceived to be money. Within the translation industry, a greater emphasis is being placed on producing translations quickly regardless of the project’s size, related industry, language pair or style and without sacrificing the quality of the end result. This is also due to the rise in prominence of machine translations which provide instant yet more often than not, inaccurate translations. Translators are therefore faced with a number of competing issues, the main one being balancing time, quality, and cost of a translation project.
Translation is not one size fits all
There is no simple, quick, one size fits all when it comes to translation which is why machine translations are still falling well short of the quality standards set by professional human translators. While machine translation services can translate a document in seconds, it can take translators one working day (eight hours) to complete just 2,000-2,500 words. With the average person being able to type around 40 words per minute and a professional at 65 to 75 words per minute, at first sight it is easy to see why clients may be wondering why translators are falling well short with just 4 to 5 words per minute. However, the art of translation is worlds apart from that of a professional typist or from a person simply typing out a document. It is important to remember that translation speed does not equal typing speed. The work of a translator is not just down to the amount of words that they can type in a minute. Instead it is based on the specialist translator; researching, translating, revising and editing the overall project. A translator’s creative spark is also somewhat restricted to the source text and is therefore guided by the source language, context and specialist area to recreate the work in another language.
Balancing time and quality
Each and every translation project varies in difficulty not only down to the specialist area, industry specific terminology, style and cultural references but the source text can also be written clearly or concisely, to the point or ambiguously and can include tables, graphs, images and pictures. A professional human translator having industry knowledge and expertise is extremely important to be able to adapt to different styles, industry specific terminology, and company-specific culture in order to reduce the learning curve on each project. Translators do not simply read and write but in order to produce a high quality of translation, they need to understand the source text at its deepest semantic as well as its intentional and communicative level. When completing a translation project, the translator has to produce a translation free of errors, neither a grammatical mistake nor sentence framing error and this can only be done if the translator has a good command over the source language and the target language as well as industry-specific expertise. For example, within the medical industry a minor mistake in translating medical terms, instructions, specifications or failing to be sensitive to localization requirements could make that product or service harmful to patients. Quality is therefore extremely important in translation and as such the time necessary to efficiently and carefully complete a translation should not be rushed.
Bridging the gap between languages and cultures
Performing a translation requires skill, analysis, and a thorough understanding of the languages, cultures and subject area. This can only be achieved with sufficient time allowing the translator to ensure a quality and reliable translation that meets the desired results. Haste makes waste in translation and therefore it is important to respect the time required by a translator to efficiently complete a high quality and cost-effective translation project. Doing this will leave the client reaping the benefits in the short- and long-term as a high quality translation will help bridge the gap between their company and their new target language audience.