When debating which company to choose for a particular service, it is often a good idea to compare the companies’ quality of work and choose the one that best meets your needs. For example, if you were to choose a catering company, wouldn’t you like to taste some of the foods they make before you hire them? In regards to translation agencies, people often request sample translations in order to view the quality of the work before choosing a company, especially for a larger project. However, are sample translations really an effective method of determining the quality of a translation agency?
The reason sample translations have been heavily debated within the translation industry is because they are not typically a proper example of the translator’s work. For example, sample translations normally don’t follow a certain style; while most projects translation agencies work with require a requested style. Additionally, the cost of the translations comes into play, since the costs of translations normally vary from project-to-project. Sample translations generally fail to address the costs of translations as a whole, since sample translations are normally quite short.
The required training for certain types of translation work is yet another example of how sample translations barely scratch the surface of a translation agency’s service quality. Professional translator’s spend a large amount of time working in or reading material related to their chosen industry before ever translating material for that industry. A sample translation may not capture the experience required for industry-specific translation projects.
The last example of how sample translations are inefficient is seen during the question and answer process. Generally, the translator communicates with the client through the agency in order to provide the best possible translation. Sample translations don’t offer an opportunity for either the translator or client to seek clarification, and thus may limit a client’s ability to understand the important role an agency plays in the translation process
Now that you are more familiar with some of the problems caused by sample translations, do you still think they are a good idea?