Clients’ guide to translation and interpreting

How to find a professional translator

Word of mouth is still the best guide to reliable translators. If you don't know anyone who works with translators and can recommend one, contact a national or international translators' association for guidance (see websites at the back of this booklet). They may be able to provide lists of professional translators who have the language skills and specialised knowledge you require. In some countries there are quality standards for translation and translation contracts (such as DIN 2345 in Germany), and the translation profession is organising itself to meet the needs of translators and their clients..

You can also contact a translation agency, but beware: some are much better than Others!

How to get the best out of translator

Don't ask a professional translator to translate into a language that is not his or her mother tongue. Even if he or she could do it, at a pinch, the quality will not be the same as that provided by a native speaker.

Make sure you give translators all the background documents they might need (such as similar documents translated earlier, technical documentation and glossaries). This will make for a better end result. It will also save your time, because the translator will not need to ask you so many basic questions.

Always specify the purpose of the translation. (Is it just for information? Or will it be published? Will It be used for advertising?) If a translation is going to be published, your quality requirements will obviously be higher and the translator will have to check the translation more carefully. If a rough translation has been provided just for information, you should always consult the translator before using it for any other purpose.

Allow enough time for translation. Remember that good translators have many clients — you are not the only one. Don't expect to get 100 pages translated in three days! The technicality of a document and the difficulty of the original language will affect the time required for translation.

Give feedback on the translation. Then the next job the translator does for you will be even better!

How to find a professional Interpreter

If you know a conference interpreter, ask him or her for advice. Even if he or she can't help because of being already fully booked or not knowing the language you need, they will certainly be able to recommend a competent colleague. If you don't know an Interpreter, contact a national or International association of conference interpreters for guidance (see websites at the back of this booklet). They may be able to provide the names of professional interpreters who have the skills you require.

You can also contact an interpreting agency, but beware: some are much better than others! You will have to negotiate the terms and conditions of work directly with the interpreter(s).

How to get the best out of interpreters

Describe your needs as accurately as possible and don't hesitate to contact professionals to establish the best way of meeting these needs.

Provide background documents in advance, and any relevant information on the topics to be discussed. Badly-Informed interpreters can't do high-quality work.

Remind delegates and speakers of the special constraints of interpreting, whatever type of interpreting ¡s involved. The basic prerequisites are good acoustics and visibility in the meeting room, and technical equipment which meets ISO standards 2603 and 4043. Speakers should also be reminded not to read speeches out too fast.