Four tips for getting the best out of your translator

Best Practices


When you buy a translation, you are actually buying communication. Your text has a clear purpose: it must effectively communicate your messages to somebody. You probably agree that communication is a creative field, and communication specialists may write and edit your texts with much attention to detail. The result is informative, easy to read and has the right style. “Great work,” you tell your communications department. The text is finished and complete, now let’s just get it translated and published.

Hold your horses! Think for a moment. What is actually finished and complete?

That’s right. One language version of the text is finished. Other language versions that you need don’t actually exist yet at all. No problem – they soon will. But the big question is: how can you ensure that they will be just as good as your original version, the one that your communication specialists put all that time and effort into?

The easy answer is: you find a good translator, one who will give you an accurate translation.


It’s not difficult to find a very good translator. We have them, enough and to spare, and our project managers know how to lure them out into the open and catch them. But there’s more: you don’t just need a translation, you need a piece of communication. The real trick is to make sure that the translator, once found, can fulfill his or her role as your communication specialist. While they are translating your text, they are working for you. They are your hired gun. (Remember what we told you about Charles Bronson in a previous blog text? He’s right there, waiting for your input.)

Your hired gun needs to know who you need him to shoot at. Don’t get me wrong, they are quite ready and able to shoot – sorry, I mean to translate – accurately. But to achieve the best outcome in international communication, what you really need to do is work together.


So how do you get the best out of your translator? Use these four tips for effective multilingual communication:

  1. Brief the translator about the purpose and target audience of the text.
  2. If you need a specific style, let the translator know.
  3. Ditto for terminology. Even a brief term list will help.
  4. Give constructive feedback. If the translation is not what you expected, we can work together to achieve what you need.

Translators usually have great instincts, and are often able to deduce what is needed based on the text. However, if you leave them guessing, there’s always the risk of things going wrong. In corporate communication, there is no such thing as “just a translation.” All the different language versions must receive the appropriate attention to ensure that your message gets through in that specific language, in that specific target culture.

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