Translation Services: a Plethora of Options

What translation services should a client pay for? Which are the most effective or suitable? The truth is that when it comes to requesting a translation order and providing a quote thereof, there’s a plethora of options and needs that enter into play which may vary from client to client. Every case is unique and customized. Nonetheless, there are general guidelines that will be helpful to clients when choosing their priorities and hiring a particular service. First of all, it is essential for the client to know what goes on in each step of the translation process. The main such steps are:

  • Translation: This is the first step in the process of translating from a source language to a target language, performed by a human resource without the involvement of any machine.
  • Post-editing: This is an intermediate step between machine translation and editing. Firstly, the source language is pre-translated using machine translation (MT), and then a linguist reviews said MT and changes it as needed. These changes are referred to as post-editing, as it is not a translation performed directly by a human, but rather a human translator “corrects” the pre-translated content.
  • Editing: This step follows translation or post-editing. A linguist other than the resource who carried out the previous step edits their work, i.e., they review it and apply changes to the previous step. In cases where more than one resource was used to carry out the translation or post-editing, the editor’s job becomes crucial because they unify terminology and style.
  • Proofreading: This is the step that follows editing. Once the terminology and style have been unified by the editor, the proofreader ensures that the text is properly localized according to the dialect requested by the client, e.g., translations from English to U.S. Spanish, neutral Spanish, LATAM Spanish, and so on.

These four steps can be combined according to the client’s needs and the volume and complexity of the documents to be worked on. Below are a few of the most common combinations.

  • TEP: This lineup is chosen when the client’s bottom line is quality. This is because the documents go through a strictly human translation process, and are later reviewed during edition and localized according to the required dialect during proofreading. Regardless of the dialect chosen by the client, the proofreading step is always recommended in cases of high-volume texts where more than one editor is involved in the translation process.
  • PE+E+P: This is the alternative to TEP in cases where the client’s choice is conditioned by the deadline for the deliverables. Jobs where the post-editing step is employed can be turned around faster, as the number of words to be post-edited per day (up to 5,000) is greater than the number of words that can be translated per day (between 2,000 and 2,500). Of course the volume to be translated per day will depend on the complexity of the texts and the volume to be post-edited per day will depend on the quality of the MT. Machine translation is particularly useful in jobs involving technical texts, though not so for literary content, where no machine currently can nor will ever be able to overcome a human being’s linguistic capacity and quality.
  • E+P: Editing and proofreading are chosen when the client has a previously completed translation that needs review. In such cases it is essential to ensure that the client does not have a machine translation on their hands, as this would entail first sending it through the post-editing step. Editing a human translation and post-editing a machine translation are not the same thing, both due to the quality of the terminology and the semantic and grammatical quality.

Lastly, let us reiterate that these combinations can be adapted to the client’s needs. In cases where the word count is relatively low the lineup might be translation + editing, translation + proofreading, etc. If there is a very urgent and impending deadline to work with and the word count is astronomical, in certain cases it might be more convenient to perform post-editing + editing or, in extreme cases, post-editing + proofreading, in which the review and unification process is more streamlined than in an edition, though the quality may very well suffer as a result, given the number of resources involved and the use of machine translation.