Good advice when ordering translations

To get the best possible result when ordering a translation, clear and informative instructions specifying your needs are key. The translator may need more information about the text itself, such as specific terminology, the target audience, distribution channel and purpose of the text.

A lot of work and discussions lie behind the texts that are sent off for translation, and the translator that you hire has not participated in those discussions. Please provide the translator with time and an opportunity to get to know Umeå University and try to contribute with as much relevant and concise information as possible.

Language

State clearly what language, to and from, you want your translation. For instance from Swedish into English. Please also remember to state that Umeå University uses British English as standard.

What is the purpose of the text?

What is the purpose of the text? Will it be used for print or for web publishing? Is it for instance a press release, a policy document or a scientific article? This affects for instance how much the text can expand and the tone of voice.

Who is the reader?

Is it another researcher, the general public, members of staff in general, or a specialist? This affects for instance who the text is addressed to and the tone of voice.

Subject field and scope

Is the translator the right person for the job? A good translation requires that the translator is knowledgeable within the specific field. Please send the entire text or some example excerpts of the text for the translator to assess if he or she is the right person to take on the translation, or for the translation agency to choose the most appropriate translator.

Format

Should the translation be delivered as a text document or does the assignment include layouting? Do you want the text ready for printing? There is no guarantee that the translation company can provide those services, but you could always ask. You will always get a better result if you submit editable formats, Word rather than PDF, that is. However, most translators can handle Indesign formats and HTML, which gives you a more or less finished product.

Usage

A translation is often adapted to a specific use. Contact the translator for potential adjustments if you want to use the finished translation in other circumstances at a later date.

Delivery

When do you need the text back? Always state when you need the translation back by. 'As soon as possible' can do more harm than good. Be realistic in setting a deadline and plan your work accordingly. To whom and how should the text be delivered? Most translations can be sent via email, but regular mail is another option, please remember that it will then take a few days longer. Let the translator know what delivery time you had in mind and what file format you would like. The framework agreement stipulates a delivery time, but if you are not in a rush, it helps the translator to say so, and ultimately improves the result.

Reference material

No one can be an expert on all terminology in all fields. Providing good reference material makes it easier for the translator to become familiar with terminology that is used at the University and within the field. Therefore, please attach reference material or instructions that will help the translator, such as terminology lists, examples of previous texts and general information or links to information about the University, the department or project.

Contact person

Who can the translator pose questions to? The translator may need to ask a question to someone with particular knowledge of the subject or terminology in the field. Please state a suitable contact person that will be available to take calls or answer emails.

Adaptation and localisation

Does the text need to be adapted to the new circle of readers? If an English translation should be published on the university web, it may be important to explain local occurrences to make them reflect Swedish society and not be translated into occurrences in for instance British society. Also remember that our readers do not only come from English-speaking countries. For instance, the Swedish currency (SEK) is not translated into dollars or pounds, and buildings on our campuses often have already established translations.

Give the translator sufficient time to do a good job

Plan your work on the source text to provide the translator with sufficient time for the assignment. Texts need to mature. Express delivery often come at a cost of quality.

Review and comment

Review, comment and work together with the translator to make changes in the translation. Mistakes can often be caused by rapid changes and the translator often also has a good idea about keeping consistency when changes are made. Giving the translator feedback, also gives him or her a chance to develop for your next assignment.

Collaborate

Translation is a collaboration between translator and customer. Even if a translator is an expert in a particular language and area, he or she still cannot be expected to know everything. Translators often have certain fields that they are experts in, but they cannot know what expressions and terms a particular organisation prefers to use. That is why the translator needs time to perfect the collaboration.

Build a professional relationship with one or more translators for them to learn your specific requirements, your style and terminology. You can always ask a translation agency to get the same translator as your last order, if he or she is available.

Useful dictionaries

UHR Swedish–English dictionary – Swedish Council for Higher Education

Nationalencyklopedin Swedish–English dictionary – requires access to campus networks

Anna Lawrence
1/16/2018