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How can you be sure you find a good translation agency?

21 Jun 2017

In order to develop within foreign markets, it is crucial to perfectly translate the original sales discourse while integrating, when necessary, elements specific to the target country. Therefore, working with a good translations partner is essential in order to have a winning international strategy. To avoid the ‘faux-pas’, here are some pieces of advice for identifying a good and truly professional translation agency.

What is a good translation?

Just mastering the target language isn’t enough. Being born in the target country doesn’t make your French friend a professional translator, even if your translation is towards your friend’s native language. In fact, Paul Valéry once wrote, “Translating is producing the same analogues with different means.” That is the real complexity of translating a text!

Of course, for a good translation, spelling, grammar, and the syntax must be beyond reproach. However, the culture of the target and source languages’ people must also be perfectly integrated as well.

A good translation agency is also capable of handling requests whatever the domain of activity, whether for translations in technical, marketing, legal, financial, medical, etc.

Criteria for evaluating a translation

To avoid the ‘faux-pas’, here are some criteria for finding a good translation agency…

A good translation agency must comply with:

  • Objective criteria: spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation must be irreproachable and still follow the intent and the rhythm given to the source language.
  • The semantics of the source text: No misinterpretations, omissions, or additions. It requires staying true to the original ideas, in the order initially chosen.
  • The targeted culture: Adapt the source text for the target language so that it can be perfectly understood. For example, in France, chocolates are brought to children by “les cloches” (bells), whereas in the United States, that task is handled by the Easter Bunny. For a translation from a French document destined for Americans, translating “Easter Bells” wouldn’t carry the same meaning.

Finding and Choosing a good translation agency

Here are three important criteria for choosing a good translation agency.

  1. Does the translation agency have any experience?
    Consult its website or search social networks. Can it produce good references? Are they diverse and do they align with your requirements? Do they have any customer feedback? Does the website look professional to you? How long has the translation agency been around?
  2. Are the team of translators competent?
    For quality translations, the objective competencies of the translators are essential. Do they hold diplomas from academic careers in translation? Do the translators have significant experience? Do they have one or more specialized domains (translating technical, legal, medical, financial, etc.)?
  3. Are the translation prices fair?
    If the translation agency has particularly low prices, you can bet that they have very low salaries for their translators. This could mean one of two things:
    – Either the translators are not qualified and accept a low rate because they can’t get better offers,
    – or they aren’t motivated enough and will pass only a small amount of time on your project which will result in poor quality work.
    Aside from the translators, a good translation agency also has project managers who ensure the management of the missions and their quality control before delivering the translations to their clients.

In order to choose a good translation agency, don’t hesitate to ask questions or do your own research. If you still aren’t sure, some agencies also offer translation tests.