The competition: translation platforms and professional translators (part 2)

14 Jan 2015 | Translation Industry

Who are TradOnline’s translators?

Like all translation agencies, we rely on freelance professional translators. We are also a company whose goal is to turn a profit, but our strategy regarding providers is very different compared to the translation platforms we’ve seen in part one of our article: we consider our translators to be our partners, and without giving handouts, we still aim to pay them according to their skills. On average, we’re talking rates 3 to 6 times higher than the translation platforms we’ve looked at previously. The difference is, professional translators know what they are worth and will not accept peanuts.

The qualities of professional translators

Translating is not a regulated profession, anyone can call themselves a translator. However, it is quite easy to detect professional translators:

  • they have experience related to a specific area, so in their resume you will see they provide technical translations or medical translations or marketing translations, etc.
  • they use software tools that have become a standard in the translation industry, MemoQ and SDL Trados being two popular CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools.
  • they master their native language, and translate only into it, the only exception here being bilingual translators. For example, an English native translator who knows French will list English as target language and French as source language, in abbreviated form: FR>EN translator.
  • they don’t translate like robots. For instance, they keep in the back of their minds the cultural dimension of translation and especially localisation when doing their job. In discussions with the project manager they will bring up matters that affect the translated text because of real differences between cultures.
  • they work full-time. Taking into account the constant evolution of the translation business and the technology it relies on, as well as having to work on maintaining the command of the languages they work with, professional translators can’t afford to take on this job as a hobby.

How does it all work at TradOnline?

The relationship we develop with our translators is first of all a human one, based on trust and shared long-term goals: we get to know them, on a professional as well as, at times, a personal level. We hand them translation projects based on their expertise and availability, and we bring into play our technical expertise and are quick to help if any issues arise during the translation process.

As for our clients, we use all of our resources to put our various exchanges to good use, we create TMs (translation memories, human-built) which in the long run reduce costs while maintaining consistency across a certain project, and beyond the basics we go to certain lengths to understand our clients’ needs and be able to advise them on how to make their project more productive and cost-effective. Our role is also one of educating clients, as we are perfectly aware the translation process is misunderstood and remains an opaque process for most people; for some it might seem to be just typing things in a foreign language, or it might get compared to MT (machine translation), which is an entirely different beast.

Right, so what do I pick for my translations?

Automated platforms, while definitely low cost, offer a service that could hardly be called professional; yet it remains a quick solution when you need to understand foreign text in broad strokes, and we’d recommend them mainly for personal, or internal use within a company. Their higher-end services do resemble those offered by translation agencies, proof that quality does have a price.

Besides quality, this is TradOnline’s cornerstone: enthusiastic and responsive project managers who give our clients peace of mind since they know their project is in good hands.

If you want to get in touch for more advice, click here!

photo source: kaboompics