These are some of the questions I ask when looking for reliable collaborators. You’re welcome to use them in your own search. Sometimes it’s a good idea to find a pair of translators whose combined skills meet these criteria if you cannot find them all in one person. Good luck!
- Is the translator used to working directly with clients?
Otherwise, you may end up with a translator who normally only works as a subcontractor and has a difficult time communicating with you, understanding your needs, and seeing the big picture of your project. Ask for examples of past projects and reference clients to find out.
- Does the translator regularly work with an editor?
My experience is that you can be more confident in translation quality when the translator has regular and well-established relationships with colleagues who edit their work.
- Does the translator have the right subject matter expertise?
The best translators usually have clear specializations and are highly knowledgeable in particular areas and industries. Ask about relevant experience and training, and be wary if you come across someone who lists unbelievably many specializations.
- Does the translator have an in-depth understanding of the source language (the language he or she translates from)?
Some translators list multiple source languages. It’s difficult to master many languages at a high level so it may be useful to ask which is their strongest. While strong reading skills may be enough to translate at a certain level, top translators will usually impress you with their spoken and written source language skills in comparison to other non-native speakers. This signals that the translator is in an even better position to understand you and your texts.
- Does the translator write well in the target language (the language he or she translates to)?
If this is a language you are reasonably good at, take a look at samples and see for yourself whether the text flows well and does not read like a translation.
- Does the translator have relevant experience with similar types of texts and projects?
Whether you need a translation of an annual report, a website, or technical instructions, make sure the translator has translated similar types of texts before.
For more advice, please see Translation: Getting it Right.
Tips for other languages
If you need a language combination other than Swedish to English, I’m happy to put you in contact with a colleague if I have someone suitable in my network. Drop me a line and tell me what you are looking for.