Translation Styles: The Importance of Communication

Translation Styles Contents

Welcome to the sixth article in our eight-part series on how to get the most out of your translation. This series of articles is intended for readers who need to get their message across clearly, in a foreign language. Specifically, it deals with issues related to Japanese to English and English to Japanese translation.
This table of contents will be updated with links as I publish each new article.

  1. How Important is Translation Quality, Anyway?
  2. Translation Sin 1: Automated Translation
  3. Translation Sin 2: Non-native Translation
  4. Translation Sin 3: Direct Translation
  5. Translation Necessity 1: Consultation
  6. Translation Necessity 2: Communication
  7. Translation Necessity 3: Trust
  8. The Final Product

Recap: The First Communication

Our last article discussed your pre-translation consultation, which is an essential step towards producing a translated work that conveys your desired meaning and impact to your target audience. Sure, it takes a little extra time, since some work has to wait until after you can schedule a meeting with your translator, but in nearly all cases, the time spent in that meeting will equate to superior quality of the final product.

Continue the Communication

Consulting with your translator and project manager in advance also helps ease your communication as the project goes on, since everyone has had the opportunity to get to know one another. The chances are good that the consultation got a lot of the big picture questions out of the way, but your translator is still going to be dealing with a series of smaller issues that pop up through the project. Everything from formatting questions, to the intent of certain ambiguous sentences, to spelling mistakes/ kanji errors will emerge during the translation process. Your translator or project manager should communicate these issues to you on a regular basis to seek clarification or warn you that the original text needs editing.

Necessity or Nuisance

For most in-depth projects, mid-progress feedback is going to be necessary. So, even if it gets frustrating dealing with a series of questions from the translator, it’s never a good idea to blow off a response. Communication indicates that the person on the other end is putting all of their effort into making sure the translated product meets your precise needs. If you know you’re not going to be able to respond quickly to individual questions, ask your translator to send questions in a digest format, to reduce the quantity of emails or calls. Even in this case, though, it behooves you to give full consideration to each question in order to get the best quality product.

Of course, I’ve had experiences where a client has told me, “Just figure it out.” Either they have lost patience with the process, because they did not anticipate having to give any input besides the source material, or they are in the situation we discussed several articles ago: they simply don’t care enough about the translation to get it right. Now, that second situation cannot be avoided. There are times when you need something translated for the sake of having a translated version available. (This is something, however, that should be made clear up front, to save everyone some heartache.)

I can sympathize with customers who have lost patience with the process. Unless a customer has translation experience, or has at least tried to get a business message across in a foreign language, he or she probably does not quite comprehend what goes into it. Maybe he or she hasn’t done research on translation before selecting a company. Clearly, he or she hasn’t read this outstanding series of articles on the translation process. Hopefully, you’re reading this series before ordering a translation, so you’ll understand what goes in to the process, and you’ll have the patience to deal with a constant communication stream with your translator. Ultimately, the person who profits the most from this communication will be you. Not only will your final translation be of a higher quality, but chances are good that you’ll get to improve your source text as well.

Another Benefit of Communication

Maintaining a communication channel with your translator will also help you build trust, the subject of our next article. Building a relationship with your translator, as your project progresses, will make your next translation go more smoothly. Once you have found a translation company you can trust, and perhaps an individual translator who knows your philosophy and needs, stick with them. There may be a financial incentive to open an account, but even if there is not, there is no way to understate the benefit of a working relationship based on trust.

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