These are questions I have usually asked, or tried to answer from profiles, when I have looked for reliable collaborators for other languages in the past. 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 more 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 is not a lone wolf but rather 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 of people who list unbelievably many specializations.
- Does the translator have an in-depth understanding of the source language (the language he or she translates from)?
You could ask translators with multiple source languages which is their strongest and find out whether they really master the language at a high level. 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 the translator 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 have an annual report, a website, or technical instructions, check that 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’d be happy to put you in contact with a colleague if I find someone in my network with the right skills and specialization. Drop me a line to tell me what you are looking for and I’ll get back to you if I have anyone in mind.