Just recently I joined a collective translation effort presented by TM-Town to all translators registered on this translator-matching platform based on expertise.
Their goal was to have all of TM-Town’s website content translated into multiple languages to better meet the needs of the many translators who have joined and continue to join TM-Town from all over the world.
With the high demand of translators that are available in my language pair (EN>SP), I was not surprised to find that most of the files needing Spanish translation were basically all finished. There was still a lot of editing that needed to be done, so I opened up one of the edit-pending files and got to work.
What I saw was quite disappointing.
From literal translations to grammar errors, as well as inconsistencies between the formal and informal forms–I was quite appalled by what I saw.
There were segments that had been translated using machine translation—no doubt about it—and pasted into the document.
Were these translations actually executed by professionals? Really?
These are some of the “professionals” who volunteered to do the work in exchange for a TM-Town account upgrade (TM-Town’s way of rewarding all the translators involved in this effort) and are hoping to make translation their lifelong career.
Should I be worried?
I almost wish that TM-Town had actually invested in paying someone to do the work to ensure accuracy, consistency and good flow, but I realize that would have been a big expense, especially since they wanted to do this in multiple languages.
I’m not trying to say that every file I edited was in need of a complete re-do, but there were definitely enough of them to cause me to worry.
It also led me to think there is probably a lot of translation work out there that is being marketed as “high-quality” and “professional,” and a good amount may be far from being just that.
Nonetheless, I know this experience is not a reflection of something that continually happens in the translation world—in fact, there are many excellent translators that are true professionals and are very good at what they do.
What I did learn, however, is that there are also many translators calling themselves “professionals” that are really, really bad.
These are the same translators whose clients have deposited their trust in them and expect to be delivered a quality product.
Unfortunately, these clients have no idea what they are getting in return.
Not a “high quality” and “professional” translation–that’s for sure.
So, what’s the lesson learned here?
If you are someone looking for professional translation services, don’t be so trusting and do your research.
If, on the other hand, you are a translator who claims to deliver “high-quality” and “professional” work, live up to those words and be a good one.
Perfect your skills and deliver a quality product.
It is the least you can do to build a reputable business for yourself.
Because a bad translation will come back to haunt you.
About the author:
Beverly Hayes specializes in social, adoption-related topics, medical, travel and tourism, and marketing translations from English into Spanish. A mother of five, Beverly is the founder/owner of Spanish Connect Translations, a translation agency based in Rexburg, Idaho. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah with a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, and this last December she finished her Master’s degree in Spanish Linguistics from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Being a stay-at-home mom for most of her life, Beverly has now taken upon herself a new goal–to contribute to the world in a different way by jumping on the entrepreneurship bandwagon. She has the education, the cultural background, and the writing skills that are necessary to succeed in this competitive field and provide a quality product that’ll stand out among the rest. You may visit her website at spctranslations.com, or contact her via Twitter: MySpanConnect and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.