One of the most relevant questions regarding translation quality that our clients sometimes ask us is:
How would you know whether there is some sub-standard work happening if we don’t tell you?
This is a valid question.
Since the translation project managers don’t usually speak the languages that you want your content translated into, and you need to be sure that the content translation is as perfect as you expect, proper verifications are necessary. This is where in-country reviewers come into play.
Experience shows that these reviews are usually conducted by a company employee based in the target market/country or elsewhere, who fluently speak the target language as well as the source language.
They usually know the industry and company-specific terminology and jargon. The job positions they occupy vary from technical writers to engineers, as well as sales and marketing people.
That's all great, and it’s all clear and useful. But only up to the point where it turns out that being a sales/marketing person, an engineer, or any other employee that speaks the required languages is simply not enough.
During our work with numerous international companies, we've seen many times how incorrectly conducted translation review delays the product rollouts or website launches. This article will list the six main reasons why using your engineers or sales and marketing team to review your content translation may not be a good idea.
In translation, there are two equally important languages: Source language and target language. In the translation process, you have two equally important files: The source file and the target file.
When a professional translation reviewer checks the translated content’s quality, they know that the key to a perfect review is to always check the target text against the source text.
This is the way to do it by the book, and to confirm the quality level of the translation, as well as consistency. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it needs to be 1:1 and mechanically done, because in that case it’s not a good translation, and a mere Machine Translation engine would suffice.
The flow, the style and many other elements are important. But still, the foundations need to be respected. It’s like with a great cake. The recipe, the ingredients and the chef – all of those things have an impact, including the customer’s taste.
Don't believe all those stories that there are translation providers who know what you want without asking and working together on the actual output. When receiving in-country reviewers’ comments and changes brought to the translation that we provided, a translation agency worth their salt will always ask:
Did your reviewers consult the source text while reviewing the translation?
And they don't take No, why? – for an answer.
The point is, if you want your employees to check translations properly, and avoid adding more workload, tension, and stress to your team (or delays in the content delivery), make sure they know and remember to always check the translated text against the source text.
Otherwise, it means that they may be rewriting everything from scratch, which usually ends up with the target text saying anything and everything but the source text.
When you delegate your salespeople or marketing team to conduct marketing translation review, it’s probably because:
• They speak both languages fluently,
• They know the content,
• They seem to be good with language (grammar, spelling and all that jazz),
• They know what needs to be conveyed in the marketing message.
But even though they know the content, have they taken an active part in the style guide and glossary creation for the translation team? If not, there is a risk that the changes they will propose in their comments will be preferential, not based on value.
Related content: Marketing Translation Playbook
To avoid such risks, there are certain methods that have proved their worth in the process, like mutually agreed-to Quality Assurance frameworks (DQF, for example). It enables both parties to use a common foundation and compare apples to apples.
It also helps everyone involved to spot shortcomings and implement improvements. This dramatically improves quality over time. The Quality Assurance framework can also include tips for writers (e.g. not to write the same sentence in 53 ways, as it costs a lot more to translate).
As complex as it may seem, it is actually easy to implement. That means you will save a lot of time avoiding a constant battle with your translation company over the same, recurring problems.
Related content: How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation
The tools that the translation industry has at its disposal, enable the reviewers to move quickly and painlessly into the process and smooth collaboration, to reach the desired results.
Fluency in languages does not automatically make you a translator. Otherwise translation providers would be completely useless.
If you think you can trust the translation review to your sales and marketing team, make sure that:
This scenario is not as rare as you might think. People designated to do in-country review of a translated content often turn to Google Translate. They translate the already translated content back to the original language.
No serious professional translation services provider will sink to the level of doing their translation via Google Translate and then claiming that this was a job done by professionals.
When a back translation is performed, the outcome will be, nicely said, poor. And the worst is yet to come. The reviewer assumes on that basis that the translation is poor.
They actually don’t know that what they are relying on is the quality of Machine Translation engine (which can dramatically differ from language combination to language combination, and from one MT provider to another). They are not relying on the actual quality of the output delivered by the translation agency. This approach, on the in-country reviewers’ part, might stem from various reasons:
Companies delegate translation review not just to the sales and marketing people. Another group of professionals that gets additional tasks, just because they happen to speak the languages in demand, are engineers, technical writers and web developers.
Since they are the ones that actually develop the content (whether it’s a website, software, or application), and they happen to speak the source and the target languages, they may seem to be the right people to check the translation.
This is the case where again, the translation review may be sloppy, rushed, and probably full of preferential changes as well as errors.
A real-life example for inspiration:
We had a technology client who had their engineer review the translation. They were tight on time, for sure. Although the engineer spoke the source and target languages, they did not understand the localization process and made a lot of preferential changes.
Based on the sole engineer’s feelings and opinions, changes were made as they saw fit. Then they updated the changes again and again because something in their view shifted. We ended up exchanging e-mails back and forth, explaining the process, answering the comments, and making sure that the changes made in the translation were valid.
In the end, after days of stressful communication on both sides, the client saw the logic behind our process and the changes proposed by the engineer turned out to be invalid.
One good thing that came out of it, though. Our client is now fully educated on how to perform in-country review. The not-so-good thing was that this took an unnecessary amount of time.
This can only be illustrated by another real-life example (it’s actually an expansion of the previous point referring to engineers):
A top audio technology company’s marketing director ordered a translation of a brochure because, quoting:
Usually my engineers do it, but they suck at it.
We sent the translation back and the feedback was:
It’s no good – it's Google-translated!
Being in the top 5 of global localization companies specializing in this client’s industry, we would never allow ourselves to go below a certain high level of quality, so, of course, we asked the question:
Can we talk to the reviewer(s)?
It turned out that the translation was reviewed by the very same engineer that the boss mentioned when seeking our help in the first place. The reason behind such an approach on the engineers' part could be lack of time. their own duties piling up, reluctance towards doing a task that takes their time and gives no profit, or lack of the skillset required for translation review.
The bottom line is, as it turned out, the translation, that was of high quality, was under unnecessary scrutiny. The marketing text was rewritten by tech people without comparing the translation with the original content. Wondering what Google Translate back translation would put out on your translated content? Check for yourself and let us know.
Marketing content creation, website design, application or software development are all creative processes, and subject to strict technical rules. And when entering into a partnership with a translation company, you are always asked about any relevant information, like its context, reference materials, etc.
This includes the style guide and glossary. This is to help the translation team localize the content accurately to empower it to resonate well with international audience, enhancing their experience.
So, if the translation team has to have all the details behind the content, why doesn’t the in-country reviewer? From experience, we have gathered that the people delegated to review the translated content are often seeing it for the first time when they start the review process.
If you want your in-country reviewers to conduct a thorough and efficient translation review, they have to be kept in the loop from the very start of content creation/development. If this is not possible, you should make sure that they have full access to all the information that you had provided to the translation agency in the beginning.
Let’s talk about some useful tips on what to focus on when you choose an in-country reviewer, if you are really convinced that your own resources are the best people to do this.
Caution: If you know, or if you suspect, that your team will not do the translation review correctly, don’t make them do it.
If you decide to trust the translation review to your team, then:
If you really want your sales/marketing/engineering team to review the translated content, make sure that they approach this with due diligence. With too many things on their plate, adding another time-consuming task that they will not even benefit from might lead to a disaster.
Will they do the best they can? Or will they take the easy path and turn to Google Translate?
If you want your multilingual content to reach your international audience the right way, it cannot be launched into the world unchecked.
In the attempt to enhance user experience of your multilingual website, software, application, or any other product, you plan to deliver, check your multilingual content.
Just make sure that you remember the whys behind your choice and the whats that will come out if it. You already know the how.