1. It’s free of spelling and grammar errors.
By the time a translation makes it to your inbox, it should have been sufficiently proofread to be free of pesky little errors. Be sure to give your translators reasonable deadlines, so that they have time to carry out every step of the translation process, including editing and proofreading.
2. It contains idiomatic expressions.
Idioms are sayings we naturally use in a given language. “Hit the nail on the head,” “back to the drawing board” and “kick the bucket” are a few examples of idiomatic expressions specific to the English language. Properly used, they add a touch of imagery and authenticity readers can relate to and generally appreciate.
3. It reflects your house style.
A translation can be idiomatic, well written and grammatically correct, but still not meet your standards. In such cases, the problem could be style. Perhaps you wanted the document to be a tad more formal or less so. Or maybe it doesn’t match your house style. Stylistic issues can usually be resolved by talking it through with your translator and giving him or her some samples of internal documents that can be used for inspiration. When done at its best you will feel you are reading an original and not a translated document.
4. All the bits and pieces are there.
You’d be surprised how common it is to forget a word, sentence or even a whole paragraph when translating a document. Here again, proofreading is key to providing a faithful and accurate rendition of the original.
5. The terminology is consistent.
Even lengthy documents should have consistent terminology and so should subsequent similar documents. Some translators have access to translation software that does part of the job for them. Others develop style guides and glossaries for their clients, which they update and use on an ongoing basis.
6. It reflects experience in or research into the subject matter.
Translators should always work in their areas of specialization. To gain expertise in an area, they need to do research. A good command of a given issue or topic based on experience and/or research will produce a final product that looks and feels as if it were written by an expert in the field.
If you were pleased with a piece of translated work, chances are these six criteria were met. If you weren’t satisfied, this list could help you figure out why.