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  • Writer's pictureHernán J. Droguett

The translation process explained

What happens to your copy when it's sent to translation? Does a person manually handle it or is it run through a machine somewhere? What are the steps in the translation process?

After a client and translator agree on the terms of the project (mainly costs and completion times), the text goes to a linguist. The copy could be in pdf, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or another format. In some cases, the text may need to be extracted from its original design and processed separately. Some clients may wish to provide the original text in a simple Word or Excel bilingual table, while others may grant the translator access to their HTML files or content management system.


The translation process begins with the analysis of the text as produced by translation software. The text is uploaded and run through a computer program designed to aid a human translator. The analysis report will include a list of figures: total number of words, number of repeated words, and any matches found in an existing translation memory. These numbers will significantly help determine how long it will take to complete the translation.


Now all pieces are in place for the actual translation to begin. If this is not the first time your business has had content translated, there may be a bilingual glossary and a style guide saved somewhere. If this is the case, said glossary must be utilized during the translation to ensure that the text maintains consistency and the brand's voice and tone.


During the translation stage, a translator will use all resources available at their disposal - bilingual dictionaries, past translations, approved glossaries, subject matter experts, etc. Typically this stage is carried out by one person. Once the translation phase is complete, the text is ready for editing. A second linguist typically is in charge of this step. Both linguists will likely consult with one another during and after the editing phase to improve the final text's overall quality.


The next phase includes both formatting/layout and linguistic checks. Errors may occur after the translated text is imported into its final format. Often this import is done by someone other than a trained linguist. Common defects include space limitations, truncated text, missing foreign-language characters, broken links, etc. The QC process should include a verification list that ensures the translated copy is as functional as the original.


Now the translated copy is ready for final delivery. Should you as a client have any questions, the translation team should avail itself to you and address them promptly.


Are you ready to tackle your next (or first!) translation project? We are here to help!

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