The process of hiring a translator should never be a light-hearted decision. Many translators and agencies promise perfection and cheap prices but deliver subpar translations and poor customer service. Making your selection of a translation agency or translator even more difficult is the array of paid rating and evaluation services that some translation agencies use to produce an inaccurate positive online reputation. For these reasons, it is advisable that one should avoid hiring an individual translator, or an agency, before going through a formal decision process.
Hire Native Speakers
First of all, you are strongly advised to hire a certified translator who is a native speaker of your target language–that is crucial. If you have a need to translate something from, let’s say, English to German–your target language is German and you should choose accordingly. If you fail to follow this advice, your end product (final translation) may not be as good as you originally hoped. Therefore, remember never to compromise on this. Native speakers remain the true experts when it comes to knowing a language inside out.
However, hiring a native speaker, or making sure you have a native speaker to deal with a text you need translated, is not enough. Although native speakers speak and “hear” a language better than other people, they may lack the competence to reach the desired results. Since language itself is a living entity, it is prone to constant change, and if a native speaker is an expat, or someone constantly changing place of residence, he/she may fail to pick up on new terminology and minute changes that affect all languages on an almost daily basis. Be sure to hire a native speakers who are well grounded in their mother tongue.
Be Cautious of Polyglots
Another consideration is hiring translators who claim to be fluent in multiple languages. It is true that some people are polyglots, speaking several languages impeccably, but you should be aware that speaking a language is one thing- translating into a language is another. To be honest, there are people who translate into multiple language pairs; yours is to find them and make sure they are competent. Remember that translating doesn’t accept half-knowledge or fumbling–it is a clear, direct process involving a wide array of information. If someone offers you service in seven or eight language pairs, and works alone, it may be a sign you’re on the wrong track.
Seek Specialized Translators
And finally, after you’ve found a person who is a native speaker with a proven record of satisfied clients, the nature of your text should decide whether to hire the person in question or not. Not all translators do all types of translation; there are various areas and niches. If you need to translate a text on economics, you shouldn’t go to a translator that is predominantly involved in literature or legal translation. We’re not saying that such a person wouldn’t do a great job; it’s simply a matter of efficiency.
Therefore, always remember to find someone capable of translating into your target language; make sure that person is well-versed in your area of expertise or the area covered in the text in question–and you shouldn’t have any trouble. Translating is an art form just as much as writing; treat it as such, and you’ll find a translator that will match your needs perfectly.