That’s a difficult question to answer, because there is never one single, perfect translation of a particular text, but each and every translation is just one interpretation of a given source text.

This is particularly evident when we evaluate the test translations of the aspiring translators who apply to us; We get countless translated versions of the same source text, some of which are brilliant, others are merely mediocre and a few are noticeably weaker, but we never see two the same!

From a theoretical standpoint, a translation is successful when it conveys the message of the source text as accurately as possible and the resulting text is natural, appropriate, and flawless in the target language. But can these criteria simply be applied to commercial communications?

Translation is about getting the message across

In practice, translation is not an academic exercise, but the act of communicating a message from one human being to another. Even in academic circles, attention is turning more and more to the user of the text. The University of Tampere publication User-Centered Translation defines the concept as follows: During a user-centered translation process, information is gathered about the user and then this information is used to create a usable translation.

The publication goes on to ask what is actually meant by the term ‘user’ and whether the reader really is the ‘user’ of the text. Or is, in fact, the user actually the client who orders the translation?

Focus on the objective

A translation company focusing on business communications does not have to think long and hard about this. Our corporate customers always have a specific goal in mind that they hope to achieve through their multilingual communication; whether that be increased brand awareness or customer satisfaction, enhanced security, additional sales or new market share in global markets. This goal can be achieved when the translation ‘speaks’ to the target group in the desired way.

When it comes to multilingual corporate communications, achieving such a goal is, in fact, an art and a skill. A well-produced translation should always take into account the nature of the target readership, the purpose of the text, and the publication format. Even if these issues are clear to the original author, they may not be so transparent to somebody reading the text in isolation. Consequently, when ordering a translation, always remember to pass on all necessary information and relevant background material to your translation provider!

Did you know…?

A client can have an impact on the success of a translation project through observing the following tips:

  • When submitting a text for translation, provide all relevant information and clearly specify your goals and wishes for the project.
  • Answer any questions relating to the project that may arise.
  • Provide appropriate reference material to support the translation work; this can include glossaries, previous translations, and other publications and material related to the project.
  • Please thoroughly review the translated text and provide relevant feedback. If necessary, you might ask for help from a colleague, associate, or representative in the target market.

The most successful multilingual communication is achieved through long-term cooperation built on trust, where the broad expertise of the translation provider combines with the client’s knowledge of their own industry and express needs and wishes to ensure the best possible outcome.

See also: Form before content