Freelancing, Translation Buyers

The Process of Translation

Each profession has its own secret paths, translation too. That’s why it’s impossible that all of us know exactly what the job of other individuals involve. Not every single person has a clear and precise idea of the process followed by, for example, an architect from the moment they have the mental picture till the moment they finally see the skyscraper built. We can make a guess, but I’m sure we’ll be missing a lot of stuff. Likewise, we don’t know the step-by-step process a dentist follows to fix our teeth (and I don’t want to know!), or what exactly it is that a winegrower does, or a jeweller, or a software developer.

Similarly, people outside the translation field may not know what the process of translation actually involves, or what information translators need to carry out and deliver a translation project. I’ve seen some of my friends be really surprised when they find out about the aspects and data we take into account when doing our job.

Last year, I had the pleasure of translating an infographic on The Process of Translation created by Clara Giampietro, an EN/ES to IT Translator. Clara did a great job in illustrating and providing a graphic summary of the stages a translator, at least most of the ones I know, follow from start (client contacts translator) till delivery (client receives translation).

These are the stages suggested by Clara; I have put them under the headings:

1. Preparation

  • Specifications –> characteristics of the original that are considered for the translation; client’s requirements
  • Terminology, Research and Reading –> based on the original text/document; useful for future translations as well

2. Work

  • Translation –> into the target language required
  • Editing–> comparing original text and its translated version
  • Proofreading–> revision of the translated text
  • Formatting–> checking if translation resembles the format of the original text

3. Final Revision

  • Verification–> one last check of the final version of the translation, comparing it with the original and the client’s instructions

4. Delivery

  • Delivery–> client receives translation as per agreed terms

Which Are the Most Relevant Stages for Clients? 

It’s recommended that clients be concerned mainly with the first two stages under preparation. These are all about collecting relevant information regarding the original text, like its communicative effect and target audience. Information about the original that will put the translation in context and help the linguist do their job. And what information is that specifically?

  1. Target readers of the translation
  2. Desired communicative effects of the translated text
  3. Variety of Spanish (Latin American, European, U. S., Puerto Rican, etc.)
  4. Specific vocabulary and language that the translator should respect to keep consistency, even those words, phrases or structures that should be avoided
  5. Previously translated material or any other reference material
  6. Format in which the translation should be delivered
  7. CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) Tools, if any

It’s very important that clients are clear and precise about their project needs and that translators ask relevant questions related to the specifications (since assumptions may cause problems). An open communication between client and translator is crucial.

I really hope this post helps non-translators, especially clients, have a better idea of what we do with the originals we receive.

References and credits:

Clara Giampietro. “The Process of Translation.” Winged Translations. Web. Dec. 2014.

Published by Victoria Principi

Victoria Principi
Victoria Principi is a National Public Translator of English who graduated from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. She translates, localises and reviews texts between English and Spanish, specialising in marketing and business, information and communications technology, and social sciences and humanities. She is a member of IAPTI and has been working as an independent translator since 2012. Currently, she is based in Lucca, Italy, and helps translation agencies and end clients who need to reach a Spanish-speaking audience. She is the creator of this website and the author of the blog.

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