In the translation industry, English is frequently the pivot language. That is, it serves as the go-between when content has to be translated between two languages that are linguistically, culturally, and geographically quite far apart. The languages behave differently when it comes to the syntax, phonetics, and even how speakers of these languages phrase things.
The demand for direct translation between such pairs is also comparatively lesser, when compared to the demand for languages that may be more related.
As English is near-universal in its spread, it frequently becomes the common language between such a pair of languages. So, content is first translated from the source language into English and then from English into the target language. While this is a convenient option for translation, it entails more time and money. There can also be more scope for error, as two sets of translations are involved.
A customer approached us with a demand for translation directly from French to Chinese. They had a limited budget, and hence they wanted to avoid the extra cost involved in the workflow of French>English>Chinese translation. The project also had a short turnaround time.
The biggest challenge that comes up in such projects is the limited number of linguists who can perform this direct translation. Given the deadline, it meant that we had to recruit linguists quickly to execute the project on time.
We set about creating a plan for the project before it started. This is how we did it:
- We on-boarded resources who had good experience of translating this type of content from French to Chinese directly. We designed a test to check the quality of these resources in this language pair before on-boarding them.
- We worked on the project on the cloud-based MW•HUB portal. This ensured central access to all stakeholders to all the project files and transparency on project status. We used machine translation (MT) to save the time and cost.
- We got the quality of MT output checked from the resources first before planning the workflow.
- We have developed an internal language quality assurance (LQA) system to check the quality of translation from the beginning of the project. We used the same system to check the linguistic quality and do QA checks on the partially completed work of all linguists involved in the project. It helped in sharing timely feedback with translators so that they could learn and avoid making the same mistakes in the rest of the files.
- We delivered the prototype file to the customer and took their approval for the prototype so that the feedback can be implemented in rest of the files and to ensure better quality delivery.
- We prepared a set of guidelines for the linguists, which they followed while working on the project. This guideline stressed on points that they need to take care for better quality, looking into the content and target audience.
- We put together a team of PMs based on their experience of handling critical projects. These PMs were well aware of the possible risks associated with such projects and how to handle them without having any impact on translation quality and timelines.
- We put in place a progress tracking mechanism for better visibility and control of the project.
- We did a compliance audit of the project to check progress and adherence to guidelines.
We handled a critical project with quality output and within a short deadline. The client was so impressed with the speed and quality of the work that they now regularly send us more projects.
- The quality of the translation was good: we received good score in quality evaluation done by the customer.
- Apart from the benefits of speed and quality, the client could enjoy great transparency. At any time, they could quickly see the status of the project.
- We used the machine translation output of good base quality; it helped our editors in improving the quality as per customer expectations.
- This way, we skipped the traditional workflow of translating French to English and then from English to Chinese.
- Our quality checks on partial deliveries assured the client of how we constantly monitor quality throughout the project and not just at the end of the project.
Going forward, more such unusual language combinations might come up for translation, as it keeps pace with the direction of global commerce. We are confident of executing such projects with the professional and tech infrastructure and expertise we have at our disposal.