Some Notes on Ordering Translation

(April 25, 2024)

Please be aware that we cannot accept assignments and will not respond individually to inquiries from individuals.

We have compiled some notes to help people order translations they need and help them know what to expect from translations done by professional translators.

AI Translation

If you are expecting to have your documents translated by AI, we must disappoint you.

Because, for good reasons, we do not use AI in translating client document, the comments here focus on translation as done by professional translators who have an understanding of the real world and the subject matter of the documents you need translating, something not possible by AI.

Subject Matter Expertise

The translator needs to know the subject matter of a source document before they can say that they can accept the translation task. Unlike AI, which suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect, professional translators know what they don't know and are willing to reveal if a lack of knowledge will adversely affect translation quality.

The Intended Readers

The knowledge level and expectations of the intended readers does and should inform the translation of your document.

The Purpose of the Translation

The use of the document should also inform the translation process.

  • Is it a reader-driven translation that is to be used to inform the reader of what a writer has written?
  • Is the transmission being commissioned by the writer? In that case, why?
  • Is it to convince or call to action?
  • Is it mostly providing information in a more-neutral way? Or is it something else, perhaps that the translator would not be able to sense from just the text you are having translated?

Who, if anyone, is available to answer questions that might arise from the translator?

The answer to this will most likely be positive in the case of a translation ordered by an author or the author's organization.

Professional translators are generally quite skilled in verifying matters that are publicly accessible, but they sometimes come up against things not researchable on their own. Things that could require clarification by you or a colleague are:

  • Readings of names (for JA-EN translation, this can be a problem)
  • Internal organization names (departments, sections) and titles
  • Names of products that might have been localized for foreign markets, making them non-intuitive from just looking at the Japanese name

Delivery and Quoted Fee

Providing a reasonable quote requires that we be provided with the document to be translated. To prematurely quote anything more than a range of fees without seeing the actual document would be fair to neither you nor us.

The same can be said of delivery, with the additional caveat that workloads vary and could affect delivery times, depending on when a translation is ordered. That said, we undertake in all cases to fulfill our delivery obligations as quoted.