Translation Samples: Are They an Accurate Indicator of Quality?

Translation sample is often considered a means of evaluation of translation services, but is it an accurate indicator of quality? That’s what we’ll discuss in today’s article.

More and more international companies are demanding translation samples before starting their projects. This is because the initial translation sample test seems like the best method to gauge the ability, quality, and expertise of the translation vendor.

This might be the case on some occasions, for instance, when recruiting individual translators for your project. But when you do business with professional translation companies, you might want to reconsider and read this article before you make the final decision.

What Are Translation Samples and Why Do We Use Them?

When considering hiring a translation partner for your translation needs, you might be curious about whether they’ll be able to meet your expectations. Are they skilled enough to provide you with high-quality translations? Will they ensure your content is expertly adapted for the target market? That’s where translation samples come in.

A translation sample is a means of evaluating translation services; it’s typically a short text (200-500 words) given to the potential translation partner for translation. The text is usually similar to the typology that the translator will work with if chosen for the job. With translation samples, clients can have a more detailed preview of translators’ skills and decide whether they wish to collaborate with them.

Are Translation Samples a True Indicator of Quality?

Requesting a translation sample before starting a translation project might seem like a logical thing to do. In some cases, it is. For example, if you’re thinking of hiring an individual translator, and you want to ensure they have what it takes, a translation sample will come in handy to help you evaluate their skills and expertise.

But if you’re thinking of hiring a professional translation company with long and proven experience in the industry, you might want to reconsider asking for a sample.

Before demanding a translation sample, you should know that it’s usually not long enough to show the translator’s skills. Since these texts are somewhere around 500 words, they are not a good enough indicator of quality. Because the translation should be approached in its integrity to see the bigger picture and grasp the entire context, translating one short extract or a related text might not always be such a good idea.

Additionally, the translator assigned to perform the initial test might not even end up working on your project once it begins. The reason behind this is that professional translation agencies work with a selected pool of linguists and word-class translators who are assigned to projects depending on their workload, costs, availability, etc. That’s how you could end up with one person performing the test and a completely different person doing the translation, further proving that translation samples are not such a good indicator of quality.

They are an OK preview of quality, though, and a great way to create the first impression. Now you must be wondering how do you evaluate translation quality then if not with translation samples? Well, there are other more helpful factors to ensure you hire an expert translation services provider for your project.
5 Proven Ways to Evaluate Translation Quality

Client References

When deciding on your new translation partner, ask them about their client testimonials and references. These are typically a great indicator of a company’s reputation and position in the industry. Check if they listed companies from your area to ensure they have proven experience in providing translation for your industry.

Dedicated Project Manager

Despite what you might think, a dedicated project manager is vital for your project to run smoothly. They’re the ones to ensure your translation fits your quality standards and meets all deadlines. If anything, we’d suggest checking if your potential translation vendor can provide you with a dedicated PM rather than a sample.

ISO compliant

If a translation agency is compliant with the ISO 17100:2015 translation quality standards, that’s a clear sign you’re dealing with an expert. It shows that the agency is perfectly capable of delivering a translation service that will meet your specifications.

Quality Assurance Approach

For the translation to be accurate and precise, there needs to be a quality assurance approach implemented. At Language Buró, we provide a three-step translation process (Translation – Editing – Proofreading) and a final quality assessment performed by your dedicated project manager. Each of these steps is completed by a different certified translator.

Certified, Native-speaking Translators

Translators should be native speakers and industry-experts with proven experience and knowledge. When working with native-speaking translators, you’ll be confident your translation is in the right hands.

Final Thoughts

A translation sample might give you a better idea of translation quality. Still, it would be best to keep your eye on other vital factors, such as references, ISO standards, quality approach, etc.

At Language Buró, we understand that translation quality is of the utmost importance when building trust with a translation company. That’s why we only work with certified, native-speaking professional translators with proven experience in your industry sector. We’d be happy to discuss your project further! Get in touch with us today to receive a free quote.