What are the 10 most common mistakes when requesting a translation service?
Cheaper translation solutions are an easy source of errors, from minor details to irremediable flaws, including errors that render contracts unenforceable.
You have certainly needed access to a text written in a foreign language: movie subtitles, a song, a news on the Internet, a post on Twitter or a meme your friends are sharing – and you may have been embarrassed because you were not able to understand what the text meant.
In the cases mentioned above, translation problems – including lack of translation or translation inaccuracy – would not lead to major consequences. In the worst-case scenario, you would not fully understand the context, but this would not be a major problem. However, in some cases, a translation error can have catastrophic consequences as in the translation of scientific papers, instructions manuals or official documents.
A translation error in a scientific paper about the efficacy of a drug, for example, can lead a researcher to use incorrect doses of the substance, causing a sequence of errors in his/her research. In addition, translation inaccuracy in an instructions manual for a complex machine could lead to equipment malfunctioning, with substantial losses and risk to the operator’s life.
Translation errors in official documents can cause serious problems, such as denial of a dual citizenship application process, rejection of a job application abroad, a missed deadline for a Master’s Degree application abroad or an inconsistency in a legal document, in addition to other examples.
To avoid these situations, check out the most common mistakes you can make when requesting a translation service. Stay tuned:
Check out the most common mistakes in document translation:
1. Not seeking professional help
Many of us take foreign language courses at school or in language schools.
The skills acquired in these courses are certainly important and useful, but they are different from the skills of a professional translator.
If you need to translate a simple text, like a piece of news you read on the Internet out of curiosity, you can translate it yourself or ask a friend to do it. However, when your text needs quality assurance, as in the case of official documents, you must look for the services of a specialized translator.
2. Using machine translation tools
Despite great technological advances nowadays, machine translation tools are still very ineffective. They can be quite useful to translate words individually, but are really ineffective to translate whole sentences – let alone whole texts.
Machine translation tools are not able to understand contexts and, for this reason, suggest translations that could be correct depending on the context, but usually make no sense in the text they are inserted.
3. People who lived abroad can translate
A person who lives abroad acquires language fluency, but this is not enough to ensure this person is a good translation professional. Translation is a profession and, as such, implies in innumerous techniques for the achievement of adequate results.
In addition to mastering the vocabulary and grammar of a foreign language, professional translators study translation theory and the best translation methods for each text.
4. Grammar and spelling mistakes in the target language
The context of a sentence can be right, but if the translation has grammar or spelling mistakes, such as agreement, punctuation or misspelling, it will certainly be considered unreliable.
5. Not using dictionaries and translators
Despite the fact machine translation tools make several mistakes, they are quite useful to check vocabulary. No matter how fully a translator masters a language, dictionaries and tools are important for the selection of the most suitable word in each situation, including usage and recommendation.
6. Not consulting with experts
Language skills are, most of the times, not enough for a good translation. In financial texts, for example, it can be difficult to understand the difference between operations and this will certainly impair the result of the translation. In these cases, seek the advice of an expert to understand a little more about the subject. This will help the translator deliver a more accurate and complete text.
7. Proofread your own translation
A translator is very close to his/her own translation and this makes it difficult to spot translation, grammar or spelling mistakes. The best solution in this case is to ask another person to proofread the text. This person will have a more distant and a clearer view of the document.
8. Request a translation service to be delivered in a very short period of time
The higher the pressure, the greater the chance of error. Translation is a multiple-step process, including subject research, the translation itself, editing and text proof-reading. When translating official documents, every piece of information needs to be checked, including names, numbers and dates, to ensure there are no mistakes.
This takes time. In case of urgency, some translation steps will have to be skipped or at least less attention will be dedicated to them.
9. Seeking a multilingual translator
It may seem easier to hire one single translator who can translate into several languages, but, in fact, it is difficult for someone to fully master different languages to the point of being able to translate them effectively. In this case, seek one translator for each language or seek a translation agency with large teams.
10. Seeking a common translator for a sworn translation
Official documents must follow certain rules to be accepted in the agencies or institutions where they are submitted. Sometimes, a document is only valid in another language after a sworn translation, i.e. you need a translator that has passed a public entrance examination and that is registered with the Commercial Registry of his/her State of residence.
Delivering an ordinary translation for a document that otherwise requires a sworn translation is a severe problem. The document will not be accepted and you can miss deadlines, have your application denied or entirely lost.