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Q: I'm looking for a translation company for my project but they all say the same things when introducing themselves. How do I know what to believe?

A: The shortest answer is "seeing is believing." Asking for a test translation is a reasonable request. If it's feasible to do so, try to visit them. You will be able to judge the company from the professionalism of its coordinators. In China, some translation companies claim to be professional, but their coordinators fail to provide a comprehensive explanation of the services they provide. Sometimes they don't even speak basic English. These companies are more like translation brokers. Any work that they receive is sent to inexperienced part-time translators for completion.

Q: A translation company claims that it employs a large number of full-time in-house translators capable of handling a multitude of subjects in various languages. Is that likely to be true?

A: No, it is not. Few companies can afford to have in-house translators for all imaginable combinations of languages and capable of handling any possible subject matter. The translation industry just does not work that way. Experienced translators with a thorough knowledge of one or more specialized fields rarely work as full-time employees of a translation company. All full-service translation companies rely on independent translators ("freelancers") for the majority of their work.

Q: Is a more expensive translation necessarily a better one?

A: In this industry, as in many others, it is usually true that you get what you pay for. When hiring a reputable company (like Star Translation) for a translation project, you are paying for their extensive resources and experience. In the case of Star Translation, this is experience that has been accumulated over many years. You are paying for a team of experts to adopt your project as their own. The time that they spend will include preparation for translation, translation, editing, and proofreading. Each of these important steps will be handled by a highly skilled professional (or professionals) using up-to-date (and expensive) technological tools and reference materials.

Q: How do I resist the temptation to choose the lowest price?

A: Low prices are undeniably attractive when purchasing consumer goods but are less so when purchasing professional services. You would never consider going to a discount doctor or lawyer for a serious medical or legal concern. Just as with medical or legal services, translation services are professional services. If you care about the quality of your project, you should care about the quality of the translation. A poorly- executed translation will do more than just confuse its intended recipients. It will destroy your entire project. It might destroy your professional reputation. In comparison, paying the higher rate charged by a reputable company is an intelligent business decision and a good investment.

Q: Why does my large translation project take so long to complete? Can't you use more translators to speed things up?

A: There is more to this than meets the eye! The entire project must be carefully coordinated prior to assigning portions to different translators. Glossaries and style sheets must also be prepared to ensure that consistent terminology is used throughout the project. For example, this ensures that what was called a 'share' on page 10 is not called a 'stock' on page 25 and that a 'shareholder' on page 5 is not referred to as a 'partner' on page 20. Upon completion of the project, the entire text must be proofread as a double check for consistency of terminology, style, and format. The placement of graphics and captions is also checked, and the text is examined to make sure that it is complete and accurate. The final editor is also concerned with the grammar, sentence structure, and word choice used in the translation, double checking that the finished product flows smoothly and sounds natural. The result of this extensive process is a translation that accurately and professionally conveys the meaning contained in the original, while sounding like a document originally composed in the target language. For a rushed translation, the old saying still applies: "Haste makes waste."

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