Frequently Asked Questions
Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions. If you do not see your question, just contact us.
- Who can work as a translator?
- What are professional vs. unprofessional translations?
- How can I find a professional translator skilled in my subject area?
- I know somebody who is bilingual. Isn't it much cheaper for me to have him or her do the translation?
- Why is being bilingual not enough?
- How can I get a high-quality translation at an affordable price?
- How can you guarantee the quality of your translations?
- Will the confidentiality of my documents be guaranteed?
- Which currencies do you accept?
- Who will do my translations?
Who can work as a translator?
Unfortunately anybody who feels like it. Translator/interpreter is not a legally protected title. Some people get into the business just because they think their being bilingual qualifies them for the job. You will find everything from "no qualifications" in anything to a Master's degree or PhD in translation studies. Therefore, when selecting translators, it is very important that you check their educational background for translation training! If they do not mention it, they usually don't have any.
See also Why is being bilingual not enough? below.
What are professional vs. unprofessional translations?
Professional translations are documents translated by translators with
- adequate linguistic qualifications
- expertise in your subject area(s) and intimate knowledge of different cultures
- who only translate into their native language
Now you might ask yourself: "Shouldn't that be true for everyone working as a translator?" You are right, it should! But unfortunately reality proves different...
If you want to learn more about how to distinguish professional translators from the mass of translators offering their services
How can I find a professional translator skilled in my subject area?
- When looking for a translator you should first check if the person has a solid linguistic education as a translator.
- Then check the person's fields of specialization and experience in those fields. Verify that the translator has expertise in your specific technical field.
- Make sure the translator is a native speaker of your target language (the language into which you want your text translated).
Caution! Be aware that mere technical knowledge and being bilingual, without specific linguistic training, (as in the case of e. g. engineers, software developers, scientists, etc.) does NOT qualify a person to translate!
I know somebody who is bilingual. Isn't it much cheaper for me to have him or her do the translation?
No! Most likely you will end up with a poor-quality or bad translation that will need to be fixed by a professional translator. This means that you will have to pay for the initial translation AND for having the translation fixed. Furthermore, a fixed translation is never as good as an original translation and you will end up paying much more money for less quality.
Why is being bilingual not enough?
Avoid the mistake of entrusting your translation work to somebody just because that person is bilingual and knows how to look up words in dictionaries. They might seem to do the job for less, BUT... most likely you will end up spending much more money - and time - on having a bad translation "fixed", than you would have initially invested in an excellent and professional translation.
Or would you consider a person automatically qualified to write your technical manuals or marketing brochures just because he or she knows how to speak and read your language?
Also beware of technical experts who happen to be bilingual, such as scientists, engineers, IT specialists who might have spent some time e. g. in an English speaking country. They sure have the technical knowledge to fully comprehend the contents of your documents, but do they also have the linguistic skills and ability to translate them into another language?
Most bilingual experts are not translator material if they lack education emphasizing linguistic skills and translating experience. Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realize this and attempt to translate documents, all too often with disastrous results. After reading Vitek’s account of his frustrating experiences with such “experts” translating patents, I thought of the many medical translations I’ve had to rescue after they were botched by physicians, microbiologists, nurses, and other “bilingual experts.”
This is a quote from Maria Cornelio's revealing article Beware of the "Bilingual Expert," published in the August 2003 issue of the ATA Chronicle, the journal of the American Translators Association. The whole article is available in Tips & Downloads.
How can I get a high-quality translation at an affordable price?
Quality usually has its price, which is also true in the translation business. That does not mean, however, that you cannot find an excellent translator with reasonable rates. You have to keep in
mind, though, that highly skilled, professional translators have invested a lot in their education, training, translation resources, hardware, and software in order to be able to provide their
customers with fast, high-quality output. We can only assume that translators who charge very low rates do not have the appropriate qualifications, credentials, and training and have to accept
whatever they can get their hands on. Or they are beginners in the business and lack experience or technical expertise.
One way to cut down on the price of a translation is to award it to an individual qualified translator instead of a translation agency. Agencies often charge higher rates due to their intermediary role between the translator and the client and their overhead administrative and other costs.
Another way to save on costs is to scrutinize your material for what really needs to be translated and what can be disregarded.
You, the customer, can contribute to the quality of the translation by providing the translator with as much background information as possible, e.g.:
- Glossaries/company terminology
- Previous translations
- Other published information about your product
- Who is the target audience of the translation?
- Will the translation be published (website, brochure etc.) or is it for internal use?
- Do you have style requirements?
For more valuable tips and guidelines on buying translations see the Translation - getting it right buying guide (also available in German, Spanish, and French), which can be downloaded from the Tips & Downloads section.
How can you guarantee the quality of your translations?
- We translate only into our mother tongue.
- We do not accept any translation work in areas that are not our fields of specialization.
- We always collaborate very closely with the client asking questions whenever something is not 100% clear.
- For terminology questions we work closely with a network of translator colleagues and do a lot of research on the Internet.
- Our presence on two continents gives us easy and fast access to the latest linguistic and technical developments in the countries of our source and target languages.
Will the confidentiality of my documents be guaranteed?
Yes. For each translation or translation project we can sign a translation agreement with the customer which contains a confidentiality clause. We will not transmit any of our customers' information to a third party.
Which currencies do you accept?
We accept payment in US dollars and in euros. European customers can pay by bank transfer to our German account. US customers can mail a check or pay by credit card via PayPal.
Who will do my translations?
All translations into German are done by Marita Marcano Baulesch. For large projects, she works with other professional translators in her network with the same high professional standards. Translations from German into English or Spanish will be done by professional translators who are native speakers of the target language and experts in the client's industry and subject matter.