The translation process in 6 steps

If you think that « translation » is merely the conversion of a word, sentence or text from one language into another, perhaps you should read this article. To start with, we can let you know right away that a translator’s job is far more than that. Translations are not done in a straight line; they represent in fact a set of tasks with different durations and degrees of complexity. Thus, translation is a process and each of those processes has a different level of demand, depending on many variables.

Naturally, each professional has its customized organisation and handles its workflow as efficiently as possible, but these are the steps we consider to be essential to any translation process:

1. Analysis of the text

Reading through a text, if possible from start to finish, is one of the most important tasks in the whole translation process. Obviously, this step allows us to identify the original language of the text, but, more important than that, also the subject matter of the original text, the nature of the translation (if it is technical, legal, marketing or something else), the research that will be required and the adequate resources to handle the translation.

At this stage, the translator may also be able to have a forecast of the time needed to conclude each one of the tasks, making it therefore possible to set a deadline and guarantee better time management.

2. Research and translation

This is clearly the most demanding phase of the process and one that requires a faster pace. Researching terms, may they be of legal, technological, mechanical or any other nature, so that they are precise and accurate when placed in the context of the target language, is the task that may compromise the most the quality of the translation and also the way it will be perceived by the target audience.

3. Comparison between original and translation

This comparison is transversal to the entire translation process, from research and translation to proofreading and desktop publishing. The primary objective of translation is to transpose, without violating, the content of an original text from one language into another one. As such, this constant comparison between the original and the translation is essential for a good final product.

4. Proofreading

Reading one last time through a final translation is essential if we want to rectify any details that we might have overseen before. Ideally, this last read-through should occur a few hours after the conclusion of the translation, but should there be some time constrains it needs to be handled immediately. It’s important to handle this task either way.

5. Review by another professional

It is common knowledge that four eyes see better than two. That said, the final review should be handled by a professional assigned only to that unique task, who has not had yet any contact with the work during its elaboration. This way, the reviewer can keep an open mind and clean eyes and, thus, carry out the task in a rigorous manner.

6. DTP: Desktop Publishing or Formatting

This step, which is destined to preserve the general appearance of the original document, is relevant from the point of view of interpreting the document as a whole block, which has to maintain both the content and the form in order to assure it will be absolutely comprehensible.

After reading this article, you may now have a clearer idea of how the translator’s work can be organised. If you are about to start a career in translations or have just started it, you can add these tips to your handbook, in order to take care of your first jobs. With experience, you can tailor it to your own work style and pace.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in hiring a professional translator and your idea of translation was completely different, you had doubts or were curious about the whole process, we hope this article has clarified it for you.


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