What makes a good translation?

Published on 25/09/2020

Any translation should offer a high level of quality, whatever the nature of the document or article in question. This statement will no doubt lead you to ask yourself some questions. For example: "What are the characteristics of a well-translated document?" At AbroadLink Translations we explain it to you! 

A good translation has no formal errors

Obviously, a good translation does not present any spelling, grammatical or conjugation errors . If we identify any errors in our translation we may suspect that the translator who has done the work is not a professional or, at least, a good professional. This could have negative consequences on the translations you need in the future.

Not respecting the conventions of each language is also considered a formal translation error. For example, in English the decimal is marked with a point, but in European Spanish it is marked with a comma. Another example, English, German or French make use of different quotation marks. See here what quotation marks should be used in your translation according to the language.

The conventional orthographic aspects also tell us about the professionalism of the translator. A professional translator will always take this kind of detail into account in his or her translation. For example, in French, a space is left before the quotation marks or before a colon, which is not done in an English, Italian, German or Spanish translation.

A quality translation respects the style and message of the original text

In addition to the absence of formal errors, a quality translation must also respect the message of the original text and the style in which it was written.

The main message of your original document is defined by specific words. But often these same words do not exist in another language, such as English or German. You can check it yourself through an automatic translation program. These programs are characterized by a series of restrictions by using only a set of approximate sentences that will affect the original message. You'll know right away if that's the case in your translation.

Similarly, depending on the nature of the content of your document, a certain approach (direct/indirect, familiar/formal, etc.) will often impose a methodical work. For example, the use of a formal o informal tone and the consistency of its use are fundamental in the case of the translation of marketing texts. The fact that the translator knows how to choose the right words will also be a sign of optimum quality and guarantee the best results.

Content adaptation is essential in translation

When we talk about the quality of a translation we also mean the adaptation of the content. Whether it is a question of particular terms or grammatical structures, this feature can sometimes reduce the readability of your documents. We would like to reiterate that the use of automatic translators on the web will cause your documents to have some weaknesses and inconsistencies. This usually means that the automatic translation of your document or article will not be of much use to you in the case of professional projects. A good translation may require creative solutions to adapt the text to the target market. Both an unqualified translator and machine translation are far from offering this type of translation solution.

Translation into Spanish: what about expressions?

Another characteristic of translations is the adaptation of expressions to the language into which we want to translate our documents. Sometimes we may think that a literal translation is enough to convey our message. However, each language has its own particularities in terms of expressions. There are countless examples of expressions that are untranslatable into certain languages. It is not easy to find equivalents to expressions such as "No way, Jose!” or "the pot calling the kettle black". Many times they just don't exist.

Hire a translation company to avoid surprises

Whatever the purpose and nature of your document or article, choosing a translation agency is undoubtedly the most recommended and reliable solution. In general, it will be easier to differentiate the good from the bad in the case of translation agencies than in the case of freelance translators. While it is true that you can find many freelance translators who offer surprisingly cheap rates, the quality of the work done can lead to unpleasant situations. The same applies to people within your company who are fluent in one or more languages, but who are not professionally translating. The problems you might face are:

  • Loss of money
  • Delays in the delivery of translations
  • Great difficulties in handling incidents
  • Non-respect of confidentiality agreements

In general, we can say that a translation agency is the most advisable option both to guarantee optimum quality and to benefit from true professionalism. 

Josh Gambin's picture
Josh Gambin

Josh Gambin holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.

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