6 criteria for recognising a good translator without knowing the language yourself

Translator working on a laptop

The quality of a translation is difficult to determine for someone who does not speak the language. After all, the reason you hire a professional translator is presumably because you haven’t mastered the foreign language yourself.

But even without knowledge of the language in question, you can still assess whether or not your translator has done a good job.

Below you will find criteria – not only linguistic in nature – which you can use to orient yourself in regard to this matter.

1. Your demands are carried out.

If you have term glossaries that are used in your company, make them available to your translator. A good translator will follow your guidelines – not only in regard to terminology, but also with respect to style, etc.

By being consistent with terminology and style in the scope of your corporate communications, you can create a strong corporate identity to win over your customers.

2. Agreed deadlines are met.

When you commission a translation, you agree on a date of delivery with your translator. A good translator will deliver your target text on time.

And if something unexpected should come up, your translator will contact you in good time to discuss how to proceed, and, for instance, to set priorities in the case of larger projects with multiple files.

3. Finished translations are delivered in the agreed file format.

Normally, your translator will deliver your target text in the same format as your source text. You can, however, arrange for your translator to deliver the file in another format. A good translator will of course accommodate for this.

And it’s not just the file format which is important for delivery, the way you receive your finished translation also plays a role. Did you arrange for delivery via e-mail or should your text be uploaded to an online portal?

4. Your employees or customers in the target country give you positive feedback.

Feedback from employees and customers in the target country is often helpful. This is because they can judge whether your text is understandable in the foreign language and whether it fulfils its purpose.

Is your text intended for internal corporate communication or is it destined for publication? And did the translator observe the usual conventions for a text of that type? For instance, a press release can look very different in Spain to how it does in Russia.

5. The translator uses the correct variant of the language.

A good translator also considers linguistic nuances and follows the conventions of the language variety applicable for your target audience. French in France differs from French in Canada or Switzerland when it comes to the use of certain words, among other things. Spelling and punctuation can also vary.

The situation is similar for languages such as English or Spanish too. Is your English text intended for the USA or the UK, and is your Spanish text intended for Spain, Argentina or another South American country?

6. The translator takes your target audience into account.

Your target audience also plays an important role. Ideally, your translator will make his or her mode of expression dependent on your target audience.

If, for instance, your company combines multiple different brands that are marketed at different target groups, your translator will take that into consideration when it comes to the use of language.

Price segment, target group and brand identity all have implications for your translator’s mode of expression and influence terminology, form of address and style.

It is not only linguistic nuances that are important

A good translator does not only stand out with his or her linguistic talent. It is also important that they are functional and reliable in their cooperation with you.

What is the use of a perfect translation if you don’t receive it on time? Your translator also has to be able to manage his or her projects competently.

Are you still looking for the right translator for your new project?

Then be sure to take these points into consideration before making a decision: Is the translator appropriately educated? And are his or her specialist fields and experience relevant for the subject of your texts? A good translator is distinguished by the fact that he or she fits your requirements perfectly.

Also learn about how to find the best English translator for your online shop.