Professional translation


We would like to advise you of the key features of a professional translation. You will also find useful information here about quality, standards and about the translator association ASTTI. You will also receive useful tips to take into account when selecting a suitable translation service.


What is professional translation?

Professional translation is about more than just being able to speak another language.

In the first instance, professional translation means an ability to comprehend the language of the source text on all levels, in particular the grammatical, stylistic and cultural intricacies. Secondly, there must be an appropriate understanding of the new audience. Professional translation also relies on specific subject knowledge, perfect mastery of the native language and an awareness of the culture of both source and target audiences. 


How do I know if someone is a professional translator?

The abilities of a professional translator can be loosely divided into four categories: linguistic, cognitive and technical skills as well as subject expertise. Professional translators possess exemplary creative and analytical skills, an excellent memory and great ability in their continued development in the application and acquisition of different subject areas. Through the use of a variety of translation techniques, they are able to analyse a source text and translate it into the target language, with both precision and skill. Similarly, they possess specialist knowledge of terminology, style and content of certain subject areas.

You work with a professional translator if they can answer YES to the following questions:


Does the translator

  • have a relevant qualification?

  • translate only into their native language?
  • have specialist knowledge of the subject area?
  • understand the culture of the target audience?
  • ask questions about the source text?
  • ask questions about the target audience?
  • ask questions about the context and
  • point out any errors in the source text. 


How do I choose the right translation agency?

  • Compare the different quotes and prices given; however, your decision should not solely be based upon the cost of a translation. Beware of knock-down prices: professional translation requires highly trained individuals, who are worth their price.

  • Ask them to perform a short test translation. For the test, choose a challenging segment of the text you want translated and ensure that it is typical of your business and needs. The majority of translation agencies will provide such a service free of charge. Not only should you check the result yourself, you should get a native speaker to read it as well as someone from your future target market. For larger jobs, a good agency will provide you with two or three completed test translations from different professionals to allow you to choose "your" translator.
  • Often, translation agencies do not actually have their own in-house translators but work exclusively with freelancers. It can, however, be awkward if a new translator has to be appointed especially for your job. Translations are a matter of trust! Do you often have translation jobs? If so, then you need to make sure that all of your jobs are translated by freelancers who work with the translation agency on a regular basis. It is equally important that each language combination and specialist area is always assigned to the same translator.
  • Communication between the translation agency and the customer is essential for a high-quality translation. It is a sign of professionalism if questions are asked, or if a contact person for the translator is requested. It is a further sign of professionalism if previous translations and lists of terminology are requested.
  • Most agencies offer a proofreading service with a second translator as part of the price. This proofreading should be a simultaneous checking of the source and target text word by word so that it becomes a key part of the quality assurance process.
  • You should also compare delivery deadlines. If 10 pages can be delivered in a matter of hours, that is something you should be concerned about.