What is the process of language translation? – Verity Roat Language Solutions

Following on from last week’s article about copywriting, I thought it was high time that I address what the language translation process is! You may wonder what the steps of the language translation process are, so let’s dive in!

Background for language translation
Of course, before you start the language translation process, you need to have the language skills necessary for this job. This usually involves picking one or two languages and studying them at a reputable university, though there are the lucky few who were brought up fully bilingual. Once you have completed university, you may choose to do a Master’s in translation. I did and, while I don’t think it’s 100% necessary, it was definitely useful.

Step one of the language translation process – Initial contact
The first step is for the client and translator to have initial contact. This may be through a third party, like an agency, the client may contact the translator directly or the client may receive a warm marketing email from the translator.

Step two – Client agreement
Once contact has been made, the second step in the language translation process is for the client and translator to agree on the task. This involves agreeing:

  • the fee for the translation
  • the deadline
  • the subject matter of the text.

Step three – Read through

The next step is to get a sense of the text by reading it through. If it’s relatively short, the translator will be able to read the entire text. In most cases, however, this is not feasible, so the translator reads a small section to get a feel for the style, subject and tone of the text. This is also a great opportunity for the translator to ask any initial questions they have, such as preferred transliterations of names (e.g. from Arabic or Chinese).

Step four – First draft of the translation

The fourth step of the language translation process is to make a first draft. For me, this is relatively rough and I highlight areas that I want to particularly focus on when I review the target text. This draft is often quite literal and just gives me an idea of the meaning of the text.

Step five – First review
At this stage, I read through the translation to look for any grammatical, spelling and typing errors. I also assess the readability of my translation and reword anything that doesn’t work in the source language. Where possible, I like to leave a gap of at least a couple of hours between step four and five so I can look at the translation with new eyes.

Step six – Grammar and spelling final checks
For the sixth step in the translation process, I run the spelling and grammar check in the programme that I’m using. If I’m working in a Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tool, then I run the internal Quality Assurance (QA) checks to make sure that it is properly translated and formatted. If I’m working on Word, then there is no QA tool, so I run Grammarly to make sure that the translation runs as well as possible.

Step seven – Final read through and delivery
If I’m working on a CAT tool, then this is the stage that I would deliver the text to the client. If I’m working on Word, then I give the text a final read through using the Read Aloud function to make sure it sounds fluent. This also helps me to pick up any spelling and grammar mistakes that might have been missed at previous steps. Before delivery, I decide what format to deliver the translation in. If the translation required text boxes and tables, then I will often deliver a PDF as well as a Word document, as different versions of Word can move these text books around and make it illegible..

Step eight – Client review and comments
The final step in the language translation process is checking that the client is happy with the translation. If the client used an agency, the agency will perform their own internal checks and may come back to the translator with further comments or queries. If it was a direct client, they may also have their own comments or queries. I always make time to check these queries thoroughly and adjust the translation if needed.

So that’s how the language translation process works! If you have any more questions or would like to engage me for Arabic and French to English translation, please contact me on verity.roat@cantab.net!

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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