What I look for when evaluating a translation
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After working many years for a number of good translation companies, I have frequently been asked to evaluate other translator’s jobs. This is partly due to the fact that they need more Swedish translators on the team, partly because they know and trust the quality of my translations, and therefore trust me to evaluate other Swedish translators. Sometimes the clients or other translators ask me what I look for when evaluating other translations. Based on my experience in evaluating other Swedish translations for Language Service Providers and my experience as a grader for the Swedish certification exam for ATA, I have compiled a list of points that I consider during my evaluations.

First I read through the whole text to get a general feel for the quality and style.

Then I compare the translation to the source text and look for omissions.

After these two initial tasks are done, I start going through the text sentence by sentence and follow these guidelines:

  1. Are there any typos, misspellings, omissions or grammar errors?
  2. Numbers and measurements – Are the numbers and measurements transferred appropriately for the target language? Are the conversions correct?
  3. Consistency – Are the terms consistent throughout the text?
  4. Fluency – Does the text flow in the target language?
  5. Comprehension – How well did the translator comprehend the source? Does it show that the translator has expertise in the subject area?
  6. Accuracy – How accurate is the translation of the terms and concepts?
  7. Style – Is the style of the translation consistent with the style of the source? Has the translator used proper idiomatic language for the subject matter?
  8. Audience – Is the translation appropriate for the intended audience?
  9. Non-translatables – Are names and trademarks preserved correctly?
  10. Diacritric marks – Has the translator used commas, exclamation points, semi colon etc. properly for the target language. The use often differs between the source and target language, at least for English and Swedish.

Based on these guidelines I can then make a general judgment of the translation quality and also give specific examples to the client, plus recommendations to the translator.

Tess
Tess
Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.

4 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Your article is useful, thanks. When I edit and revise a translation before delivering it first I align source and target texts and read through them comparing. Then I read the target text aloud to myself. Then I run spellcheck. Then I re-read for general formatting. Very time consuming, but I usually catch at least one problem in the last phase.

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  4. Carolyn Y. says:

    Great list! I know what I do to make my translations good by my own standards, but it’s always nice to know how others will evaluate them. It’s nice that most of these points are relatively objective, too. There are so many choices in creating a translation that can be subjective—a translator being a writer, after all.

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