Accurate and Fast Translation – How Realistic Is It?

With the modern demands of our technologically advanced world, many organizations are looking for fast translations in order to remain competitive and relevant in the marketplace. But fast translations do not always result in quality translations. In addition, the request for a fast translation will often incur additional costs. Sometimes, these can range from 30% to 100% of the original price. As an organization that requires quality and fast translation services for higher accuracy and precision, it’s therefore essential to be aware of the intricacies involved in the translation process to know what sort of value for money you can expect. This is why we’ve prepared this short guide to help you understand the processes better and to help you make more informed decisions.

What is the average translation turnaround time?

Every translation project is unique. There are hundreds if not thousands of language pairs that can be translated from the source into the target language. In addition, there are more technical and complex documents than others. Further to this, each translator’s level of expertise in both the source and the target language differs. This is why there is no standard time frame for a translation project. However, there are some guidelines that can help inform your decision when you choose a translation services provider. These are the following:

  • On average, a 2,000-word document can take around one day to complete.
  • However, based on the complexity of the document, this number can fall to 1,500 words per day.
  • If a document is less technical and complex, a translator could manage up to 2,500 words per day.

What is the typical process involved in translating a document?

When you’re looking for fast translation services, you also need to be aware of the steps that go into a translation project. Whether a fast translation or a standard-timed one, the process involved usually entails the following:

  • Reviewing of the source document: here, the translator will get the gist of the document that needs to be translated in order to gain more familiarity with the content and the scope of the work. They can read the entire document first or portions of it. 
  • Preparing the document: at this stage, the translator will identify areas that may cause difficulties in the translation process. This may include the need for further research or a more careful analysis of the terminology that the document contains. In addition, slang and idioms will also require careful consideration. After this, an outline is created to help the translator structure the translation project.
  • Preparing the terminology: the preparation of terminology is often done when there are several translators working on the same project to ensure a sense of consistency and uniformity. Industry-specific words can pose a challenge, and having a common, shared understanding of their meaning will help streamline the translation project. 
  • Translating the document: this is where the translator gets down to business and attends to translating each required word, phrase, sentence, graph, or another text element in the document from the source language to the target language. In some cases, computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and machine translation can be used. In other cases, a translator will need to refer to glossaries or the old-fashioned method of referring to a dictionary, among many other translation strategies and techniques. 
  • Proofreading/copy editing the document: during this stage in the process, the translated document will undergo a process of proofreading for minor grammatical, spelling, and punctuation issues. This is, in addition, to copy editing and ensuring the translated text’s accuracy. This serves as a check on the translator’s work.
  • Reviewing the document: this is another quality control step or review process that seeks to ensure the quality and accuracy of the final translated document.
  • Formatting the document: using desktop publishing, the translated document should look as close as possible to the original document as possible. In fact, “mirror images” are generally required. This formatting is another essential step in the process.
  • Finalization and submission of the document: the translated document will be reviewed a final time and then submitted to the client using their preferred method of communication. 
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What factors affect the speed and quality of a translation project?

Apart from knowing what steps are involved in the translation process, it’s also crucial to determine what variables will affect a fast translation turnaround time. These variables include, but are not limited to, the following:
Accurate and fast translation

  • Language pairs: language pairs refer to the languages that are required to be translated. The source and target language are taken into account as is the complexity of the languages involved. Some languages, such as Chinese for example, are much harder to translate into English than German.
  • The size of the team: in some cases, larger translation projects are split up between several translators in order to reduce turnaround times. However, in order for there to be a sense of uniformity between the work of the different translators, several quality-control and review processes will be implemented. 
  • Document length and total word count: documents that are several thousand words long will be much quicker to translate than those that are several hundred thousand words long. As such, it is difficult to have a fast translation. 
  • Document complexity: another challenging variable that comes into play regarding quick professional translation services is the complexity of the document(s) at hand. Some technical documents with complex industry jargon such as those related to medicine, law, technology, fintech, regulatory and government documents will require more effort for accurate output. Choosing a translation services provider with a specialization in a particular field can be a helpful aspect to consider. It’s also crucial for the client to specify whether they require a specialized or standard translation as this can help determine the size and scope of the translation project. 
  • Review time and quality control: as mentioned above, once a document is translated, it goes through several quality control processes. This can slow down a fast English translation or a fast document translation altogether and should be kept in mind, too.
  • The technology involved in the process: the translation industry has benefitted from technological advances over the past few decades with machine translations, deep learning, neural machine translations, and others coming to the fore. Although these tools are becoming much more prominent in translations, they need to be supplemented by the human touch for high-quality, accurate output. However, they can significantly speed up processes and assist with producing quick document translations.
  • File formats: it must be remembered that it takes time to convert a translated piece of text into the original file format through the use of desktop publishing tools. As a result, this is another significant factor that must be considered if you are looking for quick professional translations.
  • Other variables: the remaining variables that are involved in fast translations are no less important. For example, it’s crucial for a translator to explore the quality of the original text. If the quality is poor, then revisions may need to be made, which can slow down the translation process. Furthermore, the tone of voice that needs to be used in the translation should be specified by the client and used consistently throughout. A further challenge to a fast translation includes cases when there are no direct equivalents of words and phrases, making the translation more challenging.
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Is a quick professional translation possible?

While quick document translation is possible, organizations need to consider the processes and variables involved in any translation project to get an idea of the time it takes to prepare the final text. Fast translation services may be possible, but given the speed at which they are carried out, the chances are high that the quality of the translation will not be as high because many steps in the process would need to be omitted. As a result, a fast translation that’s also a quality translation is a rarity in the industry. To avoid high costs and low-quality results, it’s always advisable to plan ahead of time to give the team of translators sufficient and realistic time frames.