Improving your linguists by giving the right feedback

Professional translation work doesn’t happen in a day. Respected translation companies have numerous teams, which handle different parts of the project, putting all of their efforts in executing the project perfectly. However, mistakes or inaccuracies find their way in even in such a well-structured process. In such cases it is very important to deal with the frustration caused by the end product in a correct and respectful way.

The right way to do this is to give proper feedback to the team dealing with the translation. Giving feedback to a linguist is essential for a good quality translation and this is why you have to be sure you`re doing it the right way. Here are our top picks on how to handle this tricky part of the translation process:

Provide an objective feedback

When giving feedback on a translation job, before anything else, you should be mindful of the volume of the job and all the time spent on it. When constructing your assessment, you should do it in an objective and professional way. Leave your personal matters behind and try to not be bothered too much by mistakes and inaccuracies. A feedback provided in a structured and professional way makes it easier for a linguist to understand and accept the changes needed without being personally involved in it.

Be specific, provide a lot of examples

professional translationIf you`re not happy about the translation work, simply telling the linguist that the text needs to be retranslated is far from enough. Comments such as “there were too many mistakes” or “the style was not professional enough” are not helpful either as they do not point the attention of the translator to where their actual mistakes can be found.

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In order to fix inaccuracies, translators need specific feedback on actual sentences and terms. Any suggestions, examples, and alternatives are also welcomed.

So instead of saying:
“The translation was OK, although the work was a bit sloppy and not thoroughly checked.”

Try the following:
“The translation is accurate for the most and it flows naturally. It would benefit from a second careful reading to avoid typos such as not (t)he first, and, etc.”

Focus on the most important issues

As important as it might be to give examples in your feedback, you shouldn’t overdo this part either. The proper analysis is about making the linguist realize the mistakes rather than about discouraging them or even worse – dictate them how to do their job.

Focus on the different types of mistakes and give single examples. A few examples are enough to provide a way to work it out properly – there is no need to assemble a whole “list of errors”, rather just show the right concept and leave it to the linguist to tackle the rest.

Be friendly and positive

Always remember that the linguist you are referring to is a valuable asset for any professional translation company. Your job is to polish their work and help them improve rather than make them feel inadequate or not good enough for the work they do. After all if the company’s Resource managers have chosen this person to work for you, they’ve surely seen something in their work. You job on the other hand is to discover this ‘something” and make it shine. Being positive and friendly throughout the whole process will help the linguist understand their strengths better and will give them a reason to work with you again. Here is a list of phrases that you might want to switch to in your next feedback:

  • Switch “bad/terrible/weird” to “inaccurate” or “incorrect”
  • “This is unprofessional” to “The translator will benefit from a little bit more training”
  • “The text was sloppy and carelessly done” to “The text needs thorough revision”
  • “The text looks like MT, translated by a machine” to “The text doesn’t flow naturally as the TL and will benefit from a revision”
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In conclusion

Professional translation is something that is achieved by tremendous amounts of work on all levels in translation companies. It is something that is slowly groomed in the teams we work with and not just a given fact. A quality translation is an asset which is highly dependable on teamwork and giving proper feedback to your linguist or vendors is one of the most important actions you can take. So do take it very seriously and add a bit of effort, when discussion the quality of a translation work with your vendors or linguist. Believe us – it helps immensely!