Tips for Clients

In ProBahasa, we strongly believe that quality is the top priority over others and it is not easy to find it. We understand and care about this crucial matter. Thus, we would like to share some tips with you when you intend to hire the translator or the translation company. We take the notes from Inc.com and adapt them to the Indonesian setting as we work on the language only.

Here are Tips for Hiring a Translator or Translation Company

1) Determine your translation needs
With any translation project, you have to decide whether to work with a freelance translator, a translation company, or whether you need to bring someone onto staff full-time. Important considerations to keep in mind when making this decision are the type of project involved, the availability of translators in the language, the level of difficulty of the subject matter, the volume of work, and the turn-around time. If the project involves a legal document in English that needs to be translated into Indonesian, and there is some flexibility with respect to the completion date, then there are any number of qualified freelance translators who can handle the job. If, on the other hand, the project is a 200-page petroleum engineering document or a website localization into Indonesian that needs to be completed within a few days, then you will probably be better off seeking the services of a company because the work will be assigned to multiple translators.

2) Establish the qualifications of the translator
Whether you want to hire a freelance translator or a translation company, it's critical to check the credentials of the translator who will work on your project. Unfortunately, translator skill levels vary considerably, so you need to know what to look for when hiring a translator.

First, it's necessary to clarify one of the most misunderstood aspects of translation: the difference between being bilingual and being a qualified translator. A bilingual speaker is an individual who speaks two languages fluently. A qualified translator is a bilingual (or trilingual, etc.) linguist who knows the languages in question and understands the complex linguistic and cultural disparities between them. An analogy that's often used to make the distinction between a bilingual and a translator is that of a cook and a chef: you may know how to cook, but that doesn't make you a chef. 

It's also important to understand that true bilinguals are few and far between even among translators. Inevitably, an individual who knows two languages is more proficient in one than the other. Because translators work in language pairs, for instance, they translate from Indonesian into English, or from English into Indonesian or both, it's crucial to choose a translator who is a native speaker of the target language. If the translator is a native speaker of both languages, then you need to make sure that he or she is most proficient in the target language. Believe it or not, the translator's proficiency level in the source language is actually of lesser importance, because he or she will have access to resources for answering any questions about the source text.

Other key areas to consider with respect to the competency of the translator are the educational level, the number of years of experience, and the area of specialization. If you have a legal document that needs to be translated, you would be much safer hiring a translator who has graduated from law school and has been translating legal materials for five or more years, as opposed to a pre-law student who is trying to make some extra money to pay for school.

Probably the most important credential to look for in an English<>Indonesian translator is professional certification. At present, the Himpunan Penerjemah Indonesia (HPI-Association of Indonesian Translators) is one of the organizations in Indonesia that offers certification to translation professionals.

When discussing certification with a translator, be sure not to confuse professional certification with certified translation. Certification is the rigorous examination process overseen by the HPI, but a certified translation is one for which the translator has sworn before a notary that the translation is true and accurate to the best of his or her knowledge. 

Last but not least, if you're unsure about the translator's credentials, it's okay to ask for sample translations and client references to give you that extra measure of confidence.

3) Verify the credentials and expertise of the translation company
If you opt to hire a translation company, there are several important factors to consider. In addition to asking about the qualifications of the translator or translators who will be assigned to your project, you should also inquire about the credentials of the company. You will first want to make sure that the company, like the translator, has been certified. Translation service provider certification does not guarantee quality translation, but it does ensure that the company in question completes a specific set of documented steps to maintain a desired level of quality control.

It's also a good idea to ask about the quality control practices of the translation service provider. Translation companies have a system in place for regulating the quality of the work. This system typically involves the use of multiple translators for a single project to reduce the likelihood of typos and errors. Companies also make use of special resources that freelance translators don't such as Translation Memory (TM) software, which enables translators to translate a repetitive sentence or phrase only once. Although TM software is intended to reduce the workload of the translator and the time needed to complete the project, it also reduces the number of errors.

Remember, if you're at all unsure about the qualifications of the translation company, you can request sample translations and client references.

4) Get informed about going rates for your project
Pricing varies widely in the translation industry. Some translation service providers charge by the word or the page, while others quote a price per document or even an hourly rate. The fee is determined by a variety of factors, including the availability of translators who work in the language or the field, the credentials of the translator or the agency, the level of difficulty of the project and the turn around time for completion. It's therefore extremely important to find out the going rate for your project by either conducting a simple Internet search or requesting multiple quotes from translation service providers.

Before settling on a price, however, there are several factors to keep in mind. If you're paying by the word, you need to know that some languages use more words than others to convey ideas. English to Indonesian translation, for example, results in a higher number of Indonesian words. So it's to your benefit to negotiate a per-word rate for your project based on the language that uses the fewest number of words.

You should also know that most translators prefer to charge by the word unless it's to their advantage not to do so. For instance, if the document is brief or the spacing and font size are large, then the translator may opt to charge by the document or the page. You will therefore want to calculate the rate per word to make sure that the quoted price for the project is reasonable.

Never agree to pay a translator by the hour, because you could end up overpaying. What looks like a simple project to you may in fact be an extremely difficult and time-consuming one to translate. Even worse, the translator may be inexperienced and therefore very slow.

Finally, beware of translators who charge below the going rate for your project. They may be amateurs or translators who utilize machine translation programs to do the job.

5) Negotiate a reduced fee for redundant projects
Many translation projects—in particular legal contracts and technical manuals—contain repetitive language, which involves less work for the translator. If the wording of your project is redundant, you should ask your translation service provider for a discount. Either you or the translator will need to examine the document to determine the number of exact and close matches in the source text. This is particularly easy if you're working with a translation company, because some software programs have an analysis function that calculates the precise percentage of matches. Once you know this percentage, you can negotiate a fair price for your translation project.

---Compiled from Inc.com.

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