Last year I needed to have some marketing materials translated into French and Spanish. I mentioned this to two friends (a native French-speaker and a native Spanish-speaker) whom I had met on a translation course. They offered to translate the materials in return for my translating marketing materials into English for them and I agreed. However, as soon as I received the translated texts I noticed grammar and terminology problems and when I showed the texts to French and Spanish colleagues they confirmed my fears – I had poor quality translations which would do nothing for my professional reputation. After asking for recommendations I contacted a colleague who was able to arrange for the materials to be retranslated to a professional standard. I later discovered that while my friends had taken a translation course, neither of them were working as a translator.
This experience illustrates what any professional translator will tell you:
• Even if they are “truly bilingual” and have an interest in translation never give a translation to a friend unless they are a professional translator;
• Unless you have seen samples of the person’s work never get a translation done as a favour. You will not be able to query their work;
• If you have any doubts about the quality of the work you have received get it reviewed by a second translator,
• If you are new to getting translation work done ask for recommendations or samples of a translator’s previous work.
If I had considered these points before I had my materials translated I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy.