Note: This blog post was originally written in Japanese for our Japanese website. We used our machine translation platform Translation Designer to translate it and post-edit the content in English. The original Japanese post can be found here.

“I've requested translation services to a translation company, but who does the translation?"
“What kind of review does a translation company do?”

For those who have questions regarding translation services, this post is a must-read. Whether you have been doing business with translation companies or don't have any experience using professional translation services, we'd like everyone to learn more about what kind of services translation companies can provide.

We will go over three commonly asked questions in this post!

Q1. Do translators work in-house at translation companies?

A1. Most of the tasks are outsourced to freelance translators, but some are handled by in-house translators.

In general, translation companies ask freelance translators who are under contract with the company to carry out the translation work, and project managers at the translation companies manage and oversee the project.

Project managers are the persons in charge of projects. They determine the field of the translation project, assign the task to the most suitable translators, and manage the project according to the workflow of the translation company. As an ISO 17100-certified company, Kawamura International manages projects according to the workflow that complies with this standard. (ISO 17100 is an international standard for translation services.)

Before working with translation companies, freelance translators take a translation test prepared by the company and enter into a contract only if they are found qualified as having expertise in the subject area and sufficient translation skills .

In addition, translation companies and registered translators sign a basic contract that includes a confidentiality clause. On top of this, Kawamura has ISO 27001 certification, an international standard for information security management system that certifies that strict security requirements are met. So, you can sit back and relax and leave your translation project to us.

However, it does not mean that everything is outsourced and no translation work is done within the translation company. Depending on the client, there may be ongoing projects that require the translation work to be urgently done on a daily basis. In order to respond flexibly to such cases, translation companies have in-house translators so that they can respond immediately to the requests. Also, by having in-house translators, translation companies can avoid declining last-minute requests. Even if it is something that translation companies would normally take on with freelance translators, it might be difficult with a tight deadline. But with the support of in-house translators, these requests can also be covered.

This is how translation companies assign tasks to in-house translators and freelance translators according to the nature of the project. Kawamura also has such a system.

Q2. What is the difference between bilingual review and native check?

A2. In a bilingual review, the translated text is reviewed against the original text. In a native check, the translation alone is reviewed.

Let’s go over in detail what work is done in a native check and a bilingual review.

In a bilingual review, a linguist reviews the translated text completed by a translator against the original text. The linguist reviews the entire document to see if there are any errors such as misinterpretations, missing translations, ignoring the instructions to use specified terms, and typos.

Reviewers are also required to have special skills, so if we outsource a review, it will be done by a freelance linguist who has passed the translation test.

There is no rule as to whether the reviewer has to be a native speaker or not, but at Japanese translation companies, both English to Japanese and Japanese to English projects are often handled by reviewers whose native tongue is Japanese.

On the other hand, in a native check, only the translated text is reviewed from the viewpoint of whether there are any grammatical errors or awkward expressions. Therefore, although it is possible to improve the naturalness and fluency of the translated text, you cannot find errors such as misinterpretations and missing translations.

For example, suppose the translation that is undergoing a native check has the sentence, “Me went to Kyoto yesterday.” To a native English speaker, there is an obvious error in this sentence. The reviewer would fix the error and correct the sentence to “I went to Kyoto yesterday.”

But what if the original text says Tokyo instead of Kyoto? In this case, “Tokyo” is translated as “Kyoto,” which is an obvious mistranslation.

However, since a native check does not review the translated text against the original text, it is impossible to notice that “Tokyo” is mistakenly translated as “Kyoto.” You may notice it from some inconsistency in the given context, but you still need a bilingual review to detect the mistranslation.

In other words, a native check is ideally performed for translations that have undergone a bilingual review and have no misinterpretations or missing translations.

Q3. Can technical terms be translated without problems?

A3. It is possible to translate them without any problems, but it is better to provide a glossary or reference materials if possible.

As already mentioned in the first question, freelance translators who are under contract with a translation company have taken and passed a translation test that measures their expertise in relevant fields and their ability to translate.

In addition, translation companies assign the task to the most suitable translator for the field. Translators with a solid background will handle the work to ensure that technical terms are translated without any problems.

At Kawamura, if there are any technical terms that are unfamiliar to the translator and for which no generally accepted translation can be found even after some research, the translator will apply a provisional translation and ask the client to confirm it. So, rest assured that you can also leave the translation of technical terms to us.

However, if there are multiple translations for some technical terms, or if there are terms that are used internally at your company, you can more confidently leave the task to the translation company by providing some reference materials or glossary.

Many translation companies and translators use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools to translate efficiently and accurately. When a glossary is provided, these tools are used to ensure that the relevant terms are applied in the translation. If you have any reference materials, we recommend providing them to the translation company.

Kawamura's translation services

More than 1,000 experienced translators who have passed the translation test are under contract with Kawamura International. Kawamura assigns appropriate translators according to the field and nature of the project and manages projects based on ISO 17100, the international standard for translation.

In addition, Kawamura has its own system of ensuring quality evaluation, translation quality, and project management quality. With the addition of ISO 27001 (ISMS certification), which is an international standard for information security, we aim to provide translation services that meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. You can rest assured that we will take care of your highly confidential translation projects in specific fields.

If you are considering a translation request, would like a free quote, or have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out us.