Very often a client starts out with the assumption that the only way to get the most out of his or her translation budget is to give the job to the lowest bidder. When it comes to translation, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is almost always the true bottom line. However, there are many other ways that you can reduce translation costs and ensure a more effective finished text:
Think about communicating your message to an international readership right from the start. Avoid references and metaphors that might be interesting to a national audience but will have no meaning for an English-speaking reader. Edit out repetitious and extraneous information, but add explanatory material that will improve readability in the English translation, for example, the full name of an organization instead of the acronym the first time that it appears in the text.
Tell the translator how the text will be used. Annual reports, sales brochures, educational materials, websites, and museum exhibition catalogs all require special vocabularies.
A picture really is worth a thousand words. A few well-chosen photos, diagrams, maps, or pictograms can substantially help to reduce a long text.
Finalize the document before giving to the translator. This includes proofreading for errors. A good translator will always try to accommodate extra revisions whenever time permits, but making frequent changes throughout the translation process increases the probability of errors cropping up in the final copy. If you must make changes, clearly date each version with notations in both the body of the text and in the name of the electronically stored document.
Be available to answer a translator’s questions. If your translator is dedicated enough to your project to ask questions, it is in your own best interest to respond. By working with the same language professional over time, you will be able to develop a common core vocabulary of terms and expressions that will make each successive translation a better and more coherent reflection of your philosophy and style.
Don’t wait until the last minute. The more time a translator has to research terminology, polish style, and proofread the final text, the better the finished translation will be.