What is a "Translator Profile"
Whatever your company’s product or service, preparing to globalize it requires collaboration with a localization vendor. Your chosen vendor will begin by focusing on the specific project specifications, but soon thereafter, the vendor will need to determine which translators are properly qualified to localize your content.
At Language Intelligence, to help us formalize this translator qualification process, we create and use translator profiles. A translator profile becomes an abstract representation of each linguist required for a given project. The profile portrays the attributes to look for in a translator when recruiting for a project.
The most significant quality assurance step taken on any translation project is assigning the proper resources. If the proper translation resources are not assigned to a project, all remaining quality assurance steps will be affected: editing, proofreading, reviews or audits, etc. In other words, if the original translation “product” is not accurately translated, all subsequent steps will be focused on correcting the translation rather than enhancing it. Obviously, this makes translator selection critical, and the construction of the translator profile becomes a logical and effective approach to translator selection.
PREPARING FOR A TRANSLATOR PROFILE
The ability to construct a translator profile is a significant skill, and the application of this skill will affect the outcome of a project. Based on this, anyone involved in sourcing or managing a translation project needs to be able to construct this profile. For example, we have a Vendor Manager who is responsible for qualifying and recruiting our overall resource pool, but our Project Managers also understand the concept of the translator profile, which helps ensure that the proper resources are applied at the project level.
At Language Intelligence, we create a translator profile based on detailed information about each specific client and project. The profile identifies criteria to look for in a translation resource, but it also provides us with a method of prioritizing the criteria.
Some of the priorities are immediately apparent: education, native language, professional achievements, accreditations in the source and target languages, awards, certifications, etc.
However, these criteria, while incredibly important, are only meaningful to us if we have spent the time to gather the information necessary to construct a thorough profile. Even though a translator might already have proven to be highly skilled, the manager responsible for recruiting must delve deeper into the translator’s product experience and knowledge, in order to appropriately assign jobs to the translator. The process then moves towards answering questions that relate specifically to understanding exactly what the client's needs are.
For the purpose of this article, we will create a hypothetical client and translation project. Let’s start with what we know: a client in the Medical Device industry has developed a new type of blood analyzer that they would like to market in the European Union. The client has a user manual and a software interface that needs to be translated.
And so we begin to develop an understanding of the client’s goals. The more a translation vendor can learn about a client’s reasoning behind globalizing their products, the better the vendor can choose the most appropriate resources.
Here are some of the most important questions a translation vendor can ask: Why is the client localizing this content? Which specific languages and locales are they targeting? What is the end product? Who is their target audience? What is the specific content requiring translation, and what is its intended use? Which steps in the translation process are necessary?
Let’s answer some of these questions for the fictitious client and begin to build a translator profile.
From this information, we can begin to construct the translator profile and decide which linguists are appropriate for the various steps of this project.
How do we ensure that we properly address the client’s desired image, audience, marketing plan, launch locations, etc. Based on the answers to the above questions, a second round of information gathering begins, with the goal of narrowing our focus to the detail required specifically for the profile. Should the translator live in-country? What subject matter expertise is necessary? Is it important that the translator have professional experience related to the subject matter aside from their related translation experience? Even the age of the translator may be examined. For example, if this were a marketing survey for a new soft drink geared towards the 18- 35 demographic, perhaps someone in-country and who falls within that age range themselves might be a better choice if it is clear that they have exposure to popular culture and advertising to their age group. Let’s look at the answers to these questions.
CONSTRUCTING A TRANSLATOR PROFILE
Combining the information we have gathered, we can now construct our profile and start the selection and recruitment process. The data we collected in the first round of questions will allow us to focus on relevant translation project experience listed on a translator’s resume. Since the blood analyzer is functioning in a similar way to traditional blood analyzers and does not introduce a dramatically new technology, we can assume that translators that have previously translated blood analyzer content will have relevant experience. We also know that we will need a translator that understands both software translation and medical device translation. This may be a single resource, if we’re lucky, but more than likely, this will be a separate linguist. Lastly, we know that we are going to have to recruit translators, editors, and reviewers. We might be looking for a resource that has experience working on these tasks specifically.
Looking at the answers to the second round of questions, we have learned that we will need to find at least one linguist in-country. We understand that education is important, but it will not be as critically weighted as previous experience translating this type of content (the translator selection trump card), or even professional experience.
Now that we know the criteria by which we will select our translators, how will we conduct the search? The next step is to create a list of keywords that we can use as search tools. In this instance, there are some keywords related to a translator’s education, translation experience, and other professional experience that can be found on resumes or CVs. We will be looking for certain keywords in each category. Using these keywords, we will identify translators currently existing in our resource pool, and then we will determine whether we will need to recruit for this project specifically.
At this point, the advantage of creating the translator profile will become evident through the ease of assigning and recruiting the translators. Likewise, the value will be further reinforced when the translation step is executed on schedule and the consecutive QA steps run smoothly.
Once the concept of the translator profile has been understood and incorporated into the planning step of every translation project, you will have addressed the most significant direct overall improvement to translation quality that can be made.
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