Why hiring a pro?
Translation is arguably one of the most underrated professional activities there are in the market. There is a very common misconception about the translation process, that has costed many professional translators potential customers, and severely harmed the results of translation requests. This misconception states that the process of translatin is merely replacing words with their corresponding match in a target language, so any person with enough knowledge in both source and target languages should be aple to produce a perfect translation for a text. From this asumption comes the conclusion that it is pointless to hire a fancy professional translator or translation agency when a person who simply speaks both languages well enough could do the same job just as fine and charge much less.
They say you get what you pay, and in this case, that sentence is 100% true. In fact, professional translators are very different from mere speakers of both languages, even if those speakers are native bilingual. This is because translation itself isn't just replacing words: there is so much more to it, and that's what makes a professional be such.
The process of translation
Non-professional translators often use a very simple method to produce translations, and that is the same method people usually think professional translators use - which is not true. A non-pro will rarely read the source text once or twice before engaging the translation itself, and this is a mistake. The goal of translation is to produce a text in a target language that is as faithful to the source text as it gets, and that means matching the tone, the style, and conveying the original ideas as closely to the source text as possible. The translator always works over the words of someone else's voice, and their own voice shouldn't be reflected in the final text, because that would mean to adulterate the original author's work. So the work of a translator has an ethic side, as well, because a poor translation will always be in detriment of communication.
The three stages of the translation process are often as follow:
|Studying the source text||Translating||Proofreading|
|This is the phase that is more often overlooked by non-professional translators. There is always an early stage when a professional translator reads the source material in order to understand the tone and style of it. Also, uncommon words or expressions are oftern underlined and further researched in order to ensure that the translation is as accurate as possible. Only when a translator can read a text and make full sense of it, the next stage can begin.||Professional translators often use special softare to work with texts. This software allows them to make a glossary and check tranlsation consistency. Full sections of text must be read right before translation, in order to make sure that all information is reflected in the target language and the tone is matched.||No professional translator would submit work that hasn't been proofread. Grammar and style errors are common in a first draft of a translation because of how segmented the writing process is. Ideally, a colleague and/or an editor should also read the text, evaluate the translation and check for grammar and style integrity.|
As you can see, the steps of translation are more complex than you would guess, and when it comes to deciding between a professional and non-professional translation, the result might be very, very different.
Some professional translators offer their services as freelancers or are up for hire with ongoing projects, but if you want to get a text translated your best option is to look for a translation agency. This way you are sure that you are working with actual professional translators, instead of non-professional translators who claim to be otherwise.
Translators who work in agencies have been certified and they should hold a title; also, since agencies often have many translators available, you have more chances to find one that is actually an expert in the field where you want to work, which is always a plus: better understandment of the source material means a better translation. However, all those working for a translation agency know how to translate properly, and they are a much safer call than hiring a freelancer from whom you do not have references.
Translation agencies will also have many translation resources available for their staff, such as specialized software and a mutual proofreading system in order to make sure that their outcome quality is as high as it gets. It may be more expensive than hiring a freelancer or a non-professional translator, but in the end, it will pay off the investment.