Top Tips for Improving a German Translation for the Best Results
1. Be sure to review the source document(s) and files well before you start a German translation. This means checking you have all the documents that the client said were to be sent. Normally, a translation project includes a set of instructions. These should be read in full so nothing is missed once the translation is underway.
2. Talk to the project manager in charge of the German translation before you begin. You need to assure the project manager that you feel happy working with the subject matter and the style required for the translation. It’s often preferable to take on translations in fields that you have built up considerable experience but there will be a time when you will want to branch out into some new areas. Even if it’s just for the sake of broadening the areas you feel confident to translate. Professional translators typically specialize in just a few subjects which, in the end, means a trail of satisfied clients and faster turnaround of projects resulting in better remuneration in a shorter time frame.
3. At the start of the German translation project ensure you know the file format. Any translation company you are likely to work will send you files in a format that’s translation-friendly and has a translation memory. Whatever you do don’t alter the CAT tool specified by the client. This will prove problematic when the project manager has to re-format it to the client’s requirements.
4. Use any reference materials, glossaries, style guides and terminology databases provided with the translation project. You should always use the glossary that has been sent with the German translation project. If a database has been created by the client it should be used. If it’s just an excel file, you will know that all tools are able to import this type of format to a CAT tool. The CSV in a matter of a few short seconds create a glossary. What’s of vital importance is that the style and terminology matches any previous jobs provided by the client. It’s not that often that a client needs to switch translators and you won’t want that to happen to you. To ensure you amass a regular German translator income you need to keep a regular client base.
5. Talk to the translation’s project manager at once if you are experiencing any issues with either the glossary or the translation memory. If you find any problems with the quality of the material in front of you and you don’t know whether you should stick to the glossary or the translation memory talk to the project manager before you begin. If contact can’t be made use the style and preferences used before even if they are not what you are used to. If you find any issues with the German terminology make a note and write comments while you are in the midst of the translation process. This gives you the good reputation for thoroughness which is a sought after quality of a German translator.
6. The project manager for the translation or the client should be informed immediately if you encounter any problems with the document, the format, the word count or the delivery time.
7. Locate any useful but relevant source references on the Internet related to the subject you will be translating. This is what’s referred to as background work. If you have been directed to translate key technical documents for motorbikes look for the specific brand’s website provided in your native language. Any competitors often offer relevant terminology and style that may be of assistance to you as well. If you have decided to specialise in a certain area building up background knowledge is an investment. You will understand text in your area of specialisation instantly saving you a lot of research time.
8. Once you have completed a translation the first thing you must do is run the translation through your most trusted spellchecker. This will correct any wrong spellings and typing errors. Once this formality has been completed you should read through the translation and edit out any redundancy or incorrectly used terminology. The audience who will read your translation will need to believe that it was originally written in their language. This means no clumsy expressions that don’t seem to fit in and certainly no errors at all. Any clumsiness in expressiveness may give the impression that the text has not been written by a native speaker. This as a quality translator is what you don’t want.
9. Check the new translation with the source material to ensure no text has been forgotten in your translation. CAT tools usually include QAs as standard with the provided software. Every tool provides different features. However, most are able to find segments that mistakenly haven’t been translated, can check if the source text is the same as the target text, and can even find wrong or absent numbers. If the CAT tool you use only provides basic checking or you wish to run some more checks, you could turn to XBench. With this tool you are able to load translation memories which can be checked for consistency, formatting issues, and whether there is consistency across files. Also missing translations and “suspect translations” can be detected when different sources have generated exactly the same translation and vice versa, when one source file has generated a lot of translations.
10. One thing you certainly must not do and that’s to provide a literal translation. That’s because translation purchasers and readers don’t appreciate translations that appear to be word-for-word translations of a foreign language. There are some translation situations when this method is quite acceptable where the terminology is more exact like in some technical material.
11. Don’t depend on editors or proofreaders, you should prepare your translation as well as you can and to put your mind at ease run it through a spellchecker as this at times may pick up a small typo or punctuation error you have simply overlooked.