Questions we need answered before translating

Who is your intended reader?


Quite often, potential clients ask me what my fee is to translate a safety manual into Spanish.  Believe it or not, without more information, that is a hard question to answer. Let me explain why.

“Who is your intended reader?” is a major factor in the work involved in the translation as well as your desired results. Say your answer is, “it’s for a factory in Mexico.”  Although that partially answers my intended reader question, that reply also creates more questions:

  1. What is the industry of the factory?
  2. Will that Spanish safety manual only be used in that factory, or do you also have factories in other Spanish-speaking countries?
  3. Are other nationalities not native to the country working at the factory?

Let’s say that the answer to the first question is that the factory is an automotive manufacturer.  The answer to the second is that the factory is the only Spanish-speaking location they have.  The last answer is that all employees are natives.  With this information, I can now formulate a quote that will provide real value.

  1. If the reader of the manual will only be Mexican, I will seek a certified translator whose background is Mexican Spanish.
  2. Additionally, I will seek a handful of specialized translators who are knowledgeable in that industry. This is vital because these translation specialists typically (a) produce higher quality work and (b) are faster because they are familiar with the industry-specific terminology.

Now, let’s add an additional question to see if anything might change the quote. Does the company intend to open another factory in another Spanish-speaking country? If the answer is no, all remains the same.  If yes, then I need to ascertain which country.

Intended readers from different countries:  Often United States clients want a Spanish translation for Latinos in the United States.  Determining who the intended reader is may be problematic. For instance, in Greenville, South Carolina, the Hispanic community is made up primarily of Mexicans and Colombians, followed by Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Salvadorians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and others. Spanish is spoken somewhat differently in each of these countries (akin to Southern, Yankee, Midwest, and California English). A translation written for Mexicans might be difficult to understand for Puerto Ricans.

In this case, we take the following quality assurance procedure.  Once we have an executed agreement, we develop a glossary using your resources.  Next, we may have a certified translator from Mexico perform a translation.  Then, we have a Puerto Rican editor (1) compare the source and target texts for accuracy and (2) edit target text for readability.  After that, the translation is compiled, formatted, and proofread to ensure that Caribbean Hispanics can better comprehend it.  Depending on your situation, another editor (from Central or South America) may be necessary.

In the end, the translation product will be completed in such a way that the intended readers from different countries will all be able to benefit from it. Obviously, this process increases cost due to the extensive editing process. The result, however, is a useful quality translation that serves your purpose well.  Our purpose is to create value and produce a quality product. What you don’t want to do is invest money in a translation that might be translated correctly for a particular audience which just so happens to not be yours.  That is just throwing money out the window!

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