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.

"How can I evaluate the quality of a translated document I received from a translation company?"

"Can translation companies handle very technical industry-specific documents?"

For those who have questions regarding translation requests, 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 the following two commonly asked questions in this post!

Q1. Is there a good way to check if there are any errors in my translated document?

A1. You can check the quality of your translated document by having another translation company conduct a third-party review or by doing a back translation.

We hear about unfortunate cases where companies have doubts about the quality of their already translated document. They often start out with an employee, who is a native speaker of the translated language, pointing out that the translation quality is not good.

However, it will be costly to ask another translation company to redo the translation. In addition, there is a possibility that whatever the employee pointed out is not a translation error but rather just a matter of preference.

In these cases, we recommend two ways to check the quality of the translated document.

1. Have another translation company review it

The conventional way is to ask another translation company to conduct a third-party review. Although it costs money, it is cheaper than redoing the translating from scratch. It will usually be an overall review for translation errors, but you can also make a request for specific points or concerns. For example, if one of the employees pointed out a specific part, you can have it checked whether it is a matter of preference or a genuine error in translation.

If you want to reduce cost, you can specify the scope of the review — limiting it to only certain parts such as the one mentioned above is an option.

2. Try back translating it

You can also try back translation using machine translation. Back translation refers to translating the translated document back into the original language. This is not a foolproof way to check for quality issues, but it can be useful for getting a rough picture of the quality when money is tight. If you have doubts about the translation quality of certain parts of the document, back translate those parts. If there is little difference between the original text and the back-translated text, you can probably assume that there are no major problems.

For back translation, there is also a method of measuring the edit distance between the original text and the back translation results to confirm the difference numerically. This method is usually available if you work with translation companies that offer machine translation services. Since you can see the difference between the original text and the back translation results numerically, it is an effective approach when you have no specific feedback but feel the accuracy of the translation might be low overall.

You can combine this approach with a third-party review. After measuring the edit distance, you can request a third-party review only for the parts with a high number (i.e., where the difference is big).

At Kawamura International, we offer both third-party review and back translation services. Feel free to contact us if you have any concerns about the quality of your already translated documents.

Some free machine translation services reuse the translated information as training data for their machine translation engines or limit their service to non-commercial use. So, always keep that in mind when using free services for your business documents. For businesses, we recommend using paid services, which we can help you with!

Q2. How does translation companies handle marketing documents or industry-specific documents?

A2. Translation companies offer additional services such as translation proofreading services for marketing documents that require high readability or subject matter expert reviews for industry-specific documents that are very technical.

Businesses manage a variety of documents, from product manuals and catalogs to HR-related internal documents. Translation companies like us take care of the translation appropriately according to the content and type of each document. But depending on the characteristics of the document, we sometimes receive additional requests.

Here are two examples.

1. "It's a marketing document. Can you make it easy to read?"

As a marketing strategy, businesses sometimes create white papers that introduce their solutions for solving problems. White papers require a level of readability that let you read smoothly in an easy-to-understand manner about what problems exist and how to solve them.

For these marketing documents, even if they are translated correctly and in accordance with terminology and style guides, we sometimes receive additional requests to make the translation easier to understand and read.

To improve readability, Kawamura International offers a translation proofreading service. This service is added to the standard translation process, which includes a quality assurance step after a document is translated. A separate linguist proofreads the translated text. The linguist will rewrite parts that are difficult to read or don't seem natural but still make sure the meaning and content remain the same. By doing so, the translated document turns into something that is easy to read and highly appealing.

2. "It's very technical and industry-specific. Can you translate it carefully and accurately?"

What if your business needs translation for an industry-specific document? For example, in the medical field, new information comes out one after another. We as translation companies also need to keep up with new information.

Translators do a lot of research in these areas. However, they may select the wrong term from an expert point of view, even if it looks fine when compared to the original.

To maintain the quality of such translation, a review by a subject matter expert (SME review) is sometimes added after the standard translation process. As a specialist of a certain field, the subject matter expert checks for any incorrect use of terminology and technical inconsistencies.

Kawamura International also supports such requests for an SME review. Depending on the content of the translation, we may propose a process that already includes an SME review. Please feel free to reach out to us regarding the translation of technical and industry-specific documents.

Kawamura's translation services

Kawamura International offers translation services in fields such as IT, medical devices, legal, finance, and patent, supporting more than 40 languages.

We provide consulting on the effective use of machine translation with post-editing services along with human translation services to meet the various needs of our customers. Not only that we also handle a variety of language-related services, such as editing and localizing video and audio data.

Get in touch with us if you need professional translation services or have any other questions about translation and localization services in general.