Language Translation Service.
Basic Parameters for Translations



The efficient language translation service can’t be provided without translation parameters being clearly set in advance.


What are translation parameters? Translation parameters are specific requirements of a translation project. They are questions that we should ask before we hire someone to provide the language translation service and begin the translation project. The basic questions are as follows:

1. What are source language and target language?

Source language is the language of your document. It is the language from which the translator will translate. Target language is the language of the translation. It is the language into which the translator will translate. As one and the same language may have regional language variations (may be used differently in different countries), it is necessary to tell the translator into which regional variation your document should be translated. For example, into English US or English UK, Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese, Russian used in the Russian Federation or Russian used in Ukraine.

Your translator should be a native speaker of the target language. The translator, who does not have native-speaker proficiency, may not be able to produce stylistically authentic translation. It is like a foreign accent in spoken language. You will immediately recognize it. The same with a text translated by a non-native speaker. You will feel the "accent".

2. What are document type and subject area?

Examples of document types: advertisements, contracts, novels, newspaper articles, subtitles, letters, patents, user guides, clinical trial protocols, sales brochures, theses, birth certificates, etc.

Examples of subject areas: technical/engineering, art/literary, business/financial, life sciences, social sciences, legal, medical, etc.

You should inform your translator of the document type and subject area. For important translations, use only translators who specialize in the subject area of your document. Professional language translation involves not just knowledge of two or more languages. Expertise in the subject area is essential as well. Indeed, a medical translator may be not a good choice for translation of a balance sheet.

3. Who are readers / audience?

Are your intended readers children or adults, scholars or general public, professionals or those who use their services? This is a critical issue as language translations may differ considerably depending on the audience for which they are created.

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4. What is the format of translation?

Discuss the format with your language translation service provider. For example:

Is the source document machine-readable? Does it contain graphics and text in graphics? Is this text extractable?

As a rule, the format of the translated text will be the same as the format of the source text. However, if you have special format requirements, you should clearly state them.

5. Document volume?

The volume of the source document can be expressed in words, characters, lines or pages. Specify the volume of your document.

6. What is the deadline for translation?

Discuss the translation deadline that best accommodates your needs. Specify if deadline flexibility is possible. Very tight deadlines can make your translation project go off track because your language translation service provider simply will not have enough time to cope with the task.

7. What is the price for translation?

Get a free translation quote in advance. Agree on the price. The price of the professional language translation service varies depending on many factors. However, ways to lower translation fees do exist.

8. Does translation require certification?

Not all translations require certification. Is it necessary to certify translations of YOUR documents? If yes, what type of a certified translation service is appropriate for you?

Parameters that are used to produce professional language translations are various and numerous. According to your needs, feel free to add additional parameters/requirements to these basic ones. Make sure that they reach the translator and that the translator understands them.

Can you ignore these basic parameters and hope your translation project won't get lost in translation? I am not saying you can't (that's your choice) just be sure to make an informed decision.

New quality standards for language translations provide additional information and can help to get a translation you need.

Here you can read more about the quality to be expected from a professional translation service.

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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