When a company needs a translation of its sales or technical documents, its press releases or any other important text, it contacts a translator or a translation agency. But before the actual translation work can begin, it is vital to obtain certain pieces of information that will enable the translator to operate in optimum conditions, thus guaranteeing the quality of the final translation. This information is known collectively as the “brief”.
A better understanding of client expectations
The brief sets out, in one place, various details. Firstly, it summarises what the client is looking for: do they want a translation which sticks closely to the source text or is freer in its approach? Which register of language is required, what style, in general, have they asked for? It is also crucial to know the context in which the translation will be used. What type of company are we talking about? Which business sector does it operate in? Who are its customers? Where is the company located? These questions may seem unimportant, but they give an understanding of the “how” and “why” of a given translation.
Next, it is important to understand the specific project in question, the targeted readership and the aims of the translation.
The way a translator translates certain terms will potentially vary, depending on whether the text is written for customers, for team members or for investors, and whether it is designed to promote a product or simply communicate an objective message.
Targets, objectives, constraints and planning
The company which has requested the translation may also give instructions or impose constraints. These can range from specifications regarding page layout (e.g. a fixed number of characters), to adherence to a glossary which they supply or a style guide which must be followed. Such information is essential in general, but especially when the translation is part of a high-volume or long-term project involving multiple translators and proofreaders. It guarantees consistency between translations and a coherent whole.
Finally, there may also be a schedule of deadlines to respect which will show – at the very least – the dates the source text files will be received from company and the dates the translated files will be returned. Sometimes deadlines for proofreading and page layout work are also included, as well as deadlines for pre-press checks.
Even if the translator is not directly involved in the page layout or the printing processes, having a global view of the project gives them a better understanding of the part they play, and why it is important stick to schedule.
This is always easier if the project pre-planning is accurate and the deadlines are reasonable.
In summary, to deliver a quality translation, it is essential that translator is given all the information they need to guide them in their work. Whilst it is the client company’s and/or project manager’s job to make sure they have this, it is equally up to the translator to carry out research and ensure they are fully informed before they start. Thanks to the brief, a translation project can proceed smoothly for all parties.