Ensuring A Successful Translation Project Or Interpretation Event
In today’s ever-changing environment, meeting your linguistic needs with excellent services can be challenging. It seems that nowadays, everybody claims to be “fluent” in another language or to even be “bilingual”. When contacting your language services provider of choice, what information should you have on hand and provide them with in order to receive an accurate estimate and, ultimately, the best quality of service for your translation project or for your multilingual conference? As an event organizer or project manager, where should you start?
First, let’s agree on some translation and interpretation terminology.
The difference between “translation” and “interpretation”
Words in the professional T&I industry have very specific meanings, and they are not interchangeable.
Translation – Rendering of a written text from one language into another language.
Follow our links to review more information and the differences between translation, transcription, transliteration, and transcreation.
Interpretation – Rendering of the spoken word (from a few words to a number of sentences, to a full speech that can last several minutes) from one language into another language.
Let’s review the various modes of interpretation:
- Click here to find out more about the differences between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. And don’t forget, simultaneous interpretation normally requires the use of simultaneous interpretation equipment.
- Escort or liaison interpretation: This is short consecutive interpretation, usually of no more than one or two sentences, and usually for low-key conversation.
- Chuchotage (from the French word for ‘whispering’): interpretation mode, normally provided without equipment, whereby the interpreter stands or sits next to one or two people (at most) and simultaneously whispers to them what’s being said. This is usually what you see during press conferences at the White House, for instance. Note that due to close proximity and lack of direct feed, it can be uncomfortable or challenging for both the interpreter doing the chuchotage and the person being whispered to.
- Sight translation: translating a document out loud from one language to another. Sight “translation” is a bit of a misnomer: it technically fits under interpretation since it is an oral rendition of a written text.
- You might consider yourself comfortable in a foreign language – a.k.a. “fluent” – after a few years of studying a language in school, but that is nowhere close to being able to interpret it beyond a few sentences at a professional level.
- This is very different from being bilingual, which means able to use two languages with equal fluency.
- In the professional translation and conference interpretation world, a “true bilingual” has two “A” languages, meaning two languages at the same native level. True bilinguals can discuss anything at the same native level in two different languages, from things that are very cultural – like nursery rhymes – to more technical things – like taxes or chemistry, and with no accent whatsoever. Needless to say, true trilinguals are even rarer, and some in the T&I industry even question whether they even exist…
We invite you to read “Translating Translation – A Helpful Guide to Translation Terminology” for more help on understanding this very particular skill.
Now that we have reviewed some terminology, let’s focus on the information you need to give to your language services provider to get the best and most efficient service.
Essential information you need before requesting translation services:
Your translation quote will be determined based on a number of factors, including:
- The source document: It is a must. It is necessary to determine several factors that will have an impact on the quote, mainly the wordcount, technical complexity, and format of the document. Otherwise, it would be like asking a dentist for a quote without letting them check your teeth first. And yes, some providers will give you a price range based on a number of factors, but it might not always be a safe bet. An inaccurate quote is likely to turn into a bad surprise for both the translator (who after receiving the document might realize that it’s actually a lot more work than expected) and the client (who might be scared away by a quote that would otherwise be cheaper). Estimates are usually free. Our advice: don’t risk it – send your document to the translator for a more accurate quote.
- The language combination: What is the source’s original language and into what target language or languages would you like the translation? Keep in mind that not all languages are charged at the same rate.
- The turnaround time: What is your ideal deadline, and will it be necessary to apply rush fees to meet it? Can you avoid rush fees by extending your deadline? Sometimes, even a few extra hours will make a tremendous difference…
- Is there any specific terminology that needs to be used? Maybe you have a glossary or a style guide that should be implemented – or reference material, such as past translations or previously released documents, to be followed for consistency?
- Do you need a certification or attestation of translation of any sort, and for what specific purpose?
As a client, we recommend that you always insist on knowing the qualifications and credentials of your service provider and their translator(s), and why your documents must always be translated by native speakers of the target language.
Crucial information needed for interpretation services:
As a rule of thumb, the more information you have as a client, the clearer the quote you can get. A good language services provider will also help you define your needs based on a number of factors. Here are the basic details an interpretation service provider will ask about your meeting:
- The date and location of your event: It seems obvious, but some seasons are busier than others, and excellent professional interpreters are a rare breed and booked early. If your meeting is held in a relatively remote location and/or no professional interpreters are available in the local area, they will need to be “imported”, which will require travel and related expenses, such as flights, and accommodations. We recommend giving yourself ample time to avoid bad surprises.
- The language combination(s): What languages do you need? Do you need interpreters who can go back and forth between two or more languages, or who go only in one direction? This is an important question as some interpreters only interpret from a particular language, but not back into it (click here for more information).
- The interpretation mode: Do you need simultaneous or consecutive interpretation, or do you actually require another type of linguistic service?
- The subject matter/topic: Some interpreters have areas of expertise, and a good interpretation services provider will want to choose their interpreters wisely.
- Basic information on the audience: From which country is your target audience? Do you have any specific accent or dialect requirements? This might be important for political and diplomatic reasons. For instance, it will probably not make sense to use Latin American interpreters if your meeting includes only participants from Spain. Similarly, some delegates from Mainland China might not appreciate hearing a Taiwanese accent all day long.
- The event’s schedule: Also important to determine overtime, for instance, and to which room to assign interpreters and when. Keep in mind that interpreters, who usually work in teams, are just like any human beings and need adequate rest to provide the best quality and prevent interpreter fatigue.
- Your equipment needs: Remember that simultaneous interpreters will need equipment, and basic things like chairs, lamps, some air – and water. And if equipment is necessary, where and when can it be installed? Do you have the floor plan of the conference room, and any space criteria?
Here are a few expert tips:
- To ensure quality, we recommend that you choose your provider wisely by asking for the interpreters’ credentials and experience. Remember that all interpreters are not equally qualified.
- Understanding how to get the most from your interpreter is incredibly important; it will ensure interpreters are familiar with your industry’s content and facilitate interpretation for your event.
- The more leeway in terms of time you give your language services provider before the event’s big day, the more time they will have to successfully plan for your event’s interpretation needs.
A key part of your project: The Project Manager
Many things take place behind the scenes in order to quote for an event: from the careful selection of the best interpreters or translators for the job to ensuring the correct equipment for your requirements, the provider’s Project Management team is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
The Project Manager or Coordinator is the hub of communication up to, during, and even after the event or project, and it’s important that you have an excellent relationship with them as they are your key to success. Ditch any unresponsive PM/PC: clear communication with them is essential, including on any changes, as well as additional questions and all types of requests. Make sure the PM/PC sends confirmation and a description of what services are included.
Expert tip: Messaging apps like WhatsApp can be used for direct and real-time communication between the Project Coordinator/Manager and the client during the event. Your Project Manager/Coordinator should send you instructions on how to access these tools to ease communication.
Once you have confirmed services with your Language Services Provider, here are a few things to consider providing your Project Manager or Coordinator:
- The most up-to-date presentations (such as PowerPoint slides), glossaries, scripts, participant/presenter list with titles (if available), etc. Interpreters will appreciate receiving them in advance to study them and prepare for your event;
- The specific call time for interpreters – typically 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting so equipment, mics, and sound can be tested, computers turned on, cell phones put on silent mode, etc.;
- The name and address of the venue, building, and/or room number(s) where the event will take place (or other information to identify the location);
- The exact location where interpreters can pick up their badges or name tags (if these will be used);
- The equipment setup schedule: setup usually happens the day before the event in the afternoon or evening. It could take up to 120 minutes for a technician to set up equipment (or longer, depending on the requirements);
- Any loading or unloading instructions that may be of help. Keep in mind that you may have to make special arrangements with the venue to make sure this happens.
Set your translation or interpretation services provider up for success with these pieces of advice, and it will surely mean an even more successful project. Even if you don’t happen to have all of these details from the get-go, Chang-Castillo and Associates, LLC (CCA) and its Project Management team are more than happy to provide a guiding hand along the way.
From the initial inquiry to the last dotted “i” and crossed “t” on your translated document, and to the final applause of your big multilingual event, we walk you through the Language Services process to make your experience as pleasant and friction-free as possible. You’ll be glad you reached out – and came back – to CCA.