Whether you are a student or a teacher, it’s of great value to communicate and tap into resources in other languages. And once you have something to publish, or when you want to converse with someone in another language, it’s important that it be understood correctly. Sure, there are free translation apps and cheap freelancer translators, and there may be occasions when these alternatives make sense. We’ll consider here some ways in which smart usage of professional translation services can advance your academic standing and thus your career.
1. A Professional Translation Company can Improve the Quality of Your Work
Most of us live in linguistic bubbles, speaking the language with which we grew up. Some of us are lucky enough to have been raised in a bilingual family or cultural context. In the United States, 20% of the population speaks a second language fluently, but in the rest of the world, the bilingual figure is closer to 50%. So Americans can learn from their European counterparts about the benefits of bilingualism.
But the lack of bilingual speakers in the US also raises the need for professional translation services in the college and university context. In some cases, a critical piece of reading or research is written in a foreign language for which a published translation is not available. In these cases, investment in a professional translation may make the difference between success and failure in the quality of your paper. According to one translation company, Tomedes, the presence of foreign language research in a published paper increases credibility and the likelihood of positive reviews. Of course, despite the easy availability of professional translation services online, it would not be ethical to pass off a professional translation as your own work, especially in a language course where your skills in expression are being evaluated.
2. Professional Translation Services Expand Readership and Publication Potential
If you are a graduate student or a scholar, you know very well that one is constantly measured according to the quantity and quality of your publications. A professional translation can expand vastly the number of publications who will consider publishing your paper. Naturally, they will judge your work alongside papers written by native speakers, so it is essential that the quality be at a high level.
You should therefore seek out a professional translator who is both a native speaker of the target language, fluent in the source language (in which you write), and also well versed in the subject matter of your paper. The translator needs to understand the jargon and terminology of your academic domain as well as any formatting requirements for the submission of such papers. You should therefore make available to translator the instructions that come directly from the journal in which you hope to publish your paper.
3. Make Sure Professional Translators Adhere to International Standards
To keep order in a multilingual world, various international organizations have established standards for publications in various languages. One of these is the Multilingual Named Authority List, which is a regulated and indexed glossary of words listing topics useful in creating catalogs used by libraries and publications. Many publications and libraries adhere to these standards, so it is essential that your chosen translator is familiar with them, too.
Another useful resource is Multivoc, the European Union’s thesaurus. Covering at least 24 languages used in the EU, and constantly growing, this resource is useful for finding synonyms and correlates from one language to another. If you are translating to and from non-European languages, be sure to have your professional translation service seek out similar resources for the libraries and publications in your target region.
4. Seek Professional Translation Services from Agencies or Freelancers
You can obtain high-quality professional translation services from two groupings of resources. The first way is by selecting from translation companies (also called localization agencies) offering language services as their core business. Do an online search including the words “translation agency,” the name of each language in the pair you require, as well as the subject matter for which you require translation.
These agencies will respond to such queries with price-quotes or questions for clarification. Acquire a shortlist of qualified translation companies, then compare prices, delivery times, and the “chemistry” with a given agency. The advantage of working with a translation company is that it offers a “one-stop-shop” for multiple language and academic domains.
The main disadvantage is the price. If your budget is tight – and when in the academic world is it not? – then you can seek our professional translators in one of the freelance marketplaces, like Upwork, Freelancer.com, or Fiverr. Here, too, you can filter candidates by language and domain, inspect profiles, portfolios, reviews, ratings, and rates, choosing the one who fits your needs and budget.
Working with a freelance translator may be more time-consuming than with a professional translation agency, but there can be a closer personal connection that can lead to better results. It’s a good practice to hire freelance translators in pairs, one to check the work of the other and serve as a backup, lest something, or someone, gets lost in translation.