When I commenced my translation agency in 1989, I did all the translation myself. That was from French or Spanish into English, my aboriginal language.
As things progressed we took on in-house translators for the most mutual European languages, but then we found that our customers needed other, more alien languages so we had to find freelance translators for those other languages. It is not potential yet for the large translation agency to have an in-house team open of interpreting from and into any language on the planet.
In 1989, when a pressing translation was affected, those freelancers had to be located within leisurely driving distance of my office – no email was used at that time – although there did exist a rather tardily and expensive system for transferring computer files over the telephone which was restricted to France only, due to the high cost at that time of overseas calls.
Being located approached Paris, it was not too difficult to find suitable translators in the capital, and so we expanded. But some of those translators had come to France immediately after the 2nd World War and their native language was, frankly, obsolete. Those technical translators were not aware of the new technologies or the vocabulary involved.And then, wonder of wonders, in the mid-nineties came the Internet and email, so we could get into contact with translators located in their native countries.
This had several benefits: translators were up to date with the normal use of their native language, technical translators not only knew the two languages involved but also were trained in the technology concerned, been were often lower compared with expatriate translators located in Western Europe and many more translators became available – all these advantages making it much easier to manage a translation agency.
We soon realized that we would have to institute a testing procedure, since everybody and his brother had decided to get into the translation business. So we developed the following trying system. With a new translator we started by sending him or her a short translation, which was then cautiously proof-read by one of our most experienced translators. If that test was successful, a longer translation was sent and the same critical procedure was used. Finally, the translator was approved, but only for the technical or scientific field with which he or she was familiar.
Proof-reading is still carried unwrapped now for all translations, even for work supplied by approved translators.
After setting up this procedure, we have slowly added to our database of approved translators over the last ten years and now have a very wide selection of specialized technical translators that we can call on for translation into almost any language.
Every industry or science has its own vocabulary, which is frequently really specialized. We have found that the best way of dealing with technical translation is to use translators who do not only know the two languages concerned, but who also have worked in the industry or scientific field involved. They know not only the vocabulary in both languages, they also know how the industrial process or the scientific research is conducted. This has enabled us to offer the most professional translation services to our customers.