Translation and TEP: Defining the Right Approach for the Job
When it comes to professional content translation, businesses generally have two options: 1. a translation-only process or 2. a TEP (translation/editing/proofreading) process. Translation-only is the process of converting written or spoken words from one language to another without any additional review or editing, done by a professional and native translator in the target language. On the other hand, a TEP process involves at least two linguists working on the project, with one translating the text and the other reviewing and editing it to ensure that it is accurate, reads well in the target language, and is free of errors. While translation-only may seem like a more cost-effective and faster option, it is not always the best choice for businesses that need to communicate with the best quality. A TEP process, on the other hand, may be too much when top quality is not necessary. Understanding the differences will help businesses set the right expectations with agencies to deliver the right services.
The limitations of a translation-only process
One question sometimes asked is if a translator is already native and professional, isn’t that sufficient to produce quality translations? Depending on the nature of the content, one translation round may not be enough if optimal accuracy and fluency are sought. Translation is a complex process that requires a good command of at least two languages, and even the most experienced translators can make mistakes. For a similar reason, translators are not good at proofreading themselves because they are too close to the text. When working on a project, they are focused on translating the text accurately and conveying the intended meaning. They may not be able to see certain errors or mistakes because they are too familiar with it. Another possibility from using a translation-only process is that the translation is accurate, but does not read well enough in the target language.
The benefits of a TEP process
One of the main benefits of using a TEP process is that the result will certainly be of higher quality versus a translation-only process, simply on the principle that two heads are better than one, regardless of how good the first translator may be. The addition of a second linguist enables an independent review of the text for accuracy and ensuring that the tone, style, and intent of the original message are maintained. Take note, however, that a TEP process would take slightly longer and be more expensive, generally by a factor of 1.5 compared to translation-only.
When should a translation-only process or TEP process be applied?
The appropriate process depends on the budget, time, and quality sought by the project and client. There are instances where a translation-only process could be appropriate, such as when the purpose is for internal use only (training documentation, internal presentations), and the quality of the translation is not critical. Another instance where a translation-only process could also be appropriate is if the client is able and will be doing a final review themselves before the content is published. In this case, they can make comments and ask the translator to rework certain parts, or directly make changes if there are not too many.
However, when the translation is intended for external use, such as marketing materials (website, sales presentation) or legal documents, a TEP process would be more appropriate. Or, if the content cannot or will not be reviewed by the client before publishing, we do suggest a TEP process to avoid the chance of mistake or embarrassment.
Translation-only and TEP processes each have their own features which can fit into various project scopes. With this knowledge in mind, businesses can now easily ask agencies such as DataSource for quotations on the translation process that they want, in order to optimize the cost-quality-lead times of their translation projects. Alternatively, if you still are not sure which process is best for you, DataSource can advise the best process or guide you.
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