Test Translations – but just who is being tested?

There are few words less likely to strike fear in the heart of a Translation Services Project Manager than ‘Can we do some test translations’? Do they not trust me to use a good translator? I mean, do I ever go in a restaurant and ask for a free test lasagne?

The truth is often that there are myriad parties with fingers in the project and they all need to be happy, ecstatic even, with the translations. So the person asking for the test translations is often another Project Manager feeling the pressure of needing to impress and tick the boxes of a whole host of people.

We get friendly with our counterpart on the client side and assure him that we have three or four perfect translators born for this project. Don’t worry! We’ll blow the minds of your reviewers in the Bangkok office! Because at this point he is testing you too. He is asking ‘How good are you at looking after me (and making me look good)?

And then the fun begins – the search for the perfect translators to test. So when you say you are an expert in scuba diving, what you really mean is that you have an uncle who did a taster course in a swimming pool once? You’re out. ‘Investment Banking’ does not mean that you collected all the NatWest pigs when you were a kid. You’re out.

You eventually find translators who really were born for the project, and there is always one that you would bet a vital organ that the client will choose because they are truly outstanding. And they never do! They choose the one you almost didn’t put forward. But they love that translator’s style and the phraseology he used and they know he will do a great job for them.

And that’s the beauty of the test translation. They chose the translator from his test translation so there is a good chance that they will like the end product. Not always though. And when our clients are not happy we go back to the drawing board and start again. Because there will be a translator out there who can tick everyone’s boxes and we will find him. You can test us all you like – Translation Services Project Managers are Superheroes!