Rush Translation – Is it Really Worth It?

What’s rush translation? Basically it’s translation that requires the same day turnaround. It’s something that clients and linguists want to avoid, but often times it’s just not unavoidable. From my experience as a linguist and project coordinator, most linguists are not fans of rush translation. One important thing to remember is that you may have to lower your expectations when it comes to rush translation since there might not be enough time for proofreading or QA.

As per this diagram, when “speed” take the biggest spot in this triangle, you will give up on Quality and Cost.




Let’s take a look at a few pro’s and con’s of rush translation.


  • You can meet your deadline.
  • You will make your client(s) or boss happy by meeting the deadline.


  • The quality of translation although is still good, but might not be the best.
  • Your linguist may have to skip QA or research.
  • You may lose quality control.
  • More difficult to find available translators.
  • You will pay more.

So looking at Pro’s and Con’s, do you think Pro’s can outweigh Con’s? Maybe…as long as rush translation doesn’t become a regular request.

There may be an alternative when you do need something quick. Learn more about Mindlink’s Instant Translation tool. If you know fast translations are an ongoing part of your business, be strategic!

How to Choose the Best Human Translators

Setting off to the right human translators might seem like a daunting task at first. Just as with any other business, there are so many options! Freelancers, agencies of various size, machine translations, and online translation platforms are just a few of the many to choose from. So how do you make an informed decision?

Read on and you’ll find out which option is right for you.


This is a popular option among companies employing bilingual staff. You may think that an employee who’s already familiar with your work would be a good option? Also that it will be the most cost-effective…right? Not necessarily. Before you commission translation from a nice admin lady who boasted having fluent knowledge of 3 languages, consider these factors:

  • Credentials: What kind of translating experience does this person have? Being a native speaker doesn’t guarantee good quality, and not everyone speaking another language will make a great translator.
  • Time frame and cost: If you approach somebody who already has a job, fitting in an extra task may not be time-effective. Not to mention that an inexperienced translator will probably take longer to finish the job and the whole process will be more costly than anticipated.

Best for: Understanding customer comments or internal emails. For all business communications you should hire a professional translation provider.


They work independently from home and often specialize in different areas such as medical, financial, marketing, etc. It’s a cheaper option than a translating agency. Here are key points to keep in mind before hiring a freelancer:

  • You need to do your research: Not all freelancers offer good quality so you’ll have to spend some time “vetting” translators. Check their testimonials, references, or ask for samples of work. It may take some time before you find the right fit.
  • You’re not their only client (and if you are it may not be a good sign): They probably have several different projects lined up, so they will not be available instantly.

Best for: “Out of the box” projects, accurate translations of specialized texts that have a specific deadline.


This technique involves a mix of translators and native speakers collaborating on the same translation document simultaneously. The client uploads the file to the platform, gets an instant quote and after accepting it receives a translation within a short period of time. The cost falls somewhere in between the freelance translator and an agency. Key factors to think about before selecting this option:

  • Certain areas of expertise may not be supported by the platform. If you have highly specialized translation content, contact the online company first to see if it’s something they have experts for.
  • Check which service level is right for you: Many of these platforms offer pricing options based on a service level. The cheapest one is probably good for “cookie cutter” content such as product descriptions or templates. But if you need to have an article about recent DNA research translated, you’d better opt for a premium level (and be ready to pay for it)!

Best for: Multilingual or high volume content. Online translation platforms let you manage everything from one place rather than dealing with several independent contractors.

Tip: Use Mindlink’s LinguistLink platform for free! Learn more. . .


Translation agencies have qualifying process for new hires (basically the applicants have to take different tests that check their translating abilities) and are a safe bet if you’re looking for top quality. You also have a better recourse if you’re not completely satisfied. Before hiring an agency take into account these factors:

  • Size matters: Small agencies may lack certain in-house services such as desktop publishing but usually offer the best rates and are eager to develop connections with customers. Large agencies prioritize large projects so if you only want to have your company letter translated into several languages you may be too small of a fry for them!
  • Fixed translation teams: Most agencies assign a single specialized translator for each translation project which may lead to delays.

Best for: Translation projects with flexible deadlines, projects varying in scope, multilingual content, subtitling, transcription, audio voice over recording, a literary subject matter, screenplays and books.

 Tip: Send Mindlink your files for Quality Translation. Learn more. . .

As you can see each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ask yourself these questions: What type of content do I need to have translated? Is my deadline flexible? What budget do I have? The answers should help you hone in on the best choice.


Measuring Translation Quality with Three Simple Data Points


A concern I hear often from people considering translation “if I don’t speak that language, how do I know its a quality translation?”. This doesn’t need to be a mystery. Evaluating some simple data for translation quality can give you a picture of the quality of the translations you are providing for your end-users.

Before you start – – you (or your vendor) should have a way of tracking basic quality. In my case, I created a simple list and form in SharePoint. You could even use an excel or google spreadsheet.


Once you have a simple system, you can use the information from your editor to track the segments of the translation that needed editing. This can give you a great idea on if you are getting what you need.

Creating charts and tables for the following measures can help you make decisions about what to translate, what vendors to use, how much to spend, etc. You can use google or excel to create graphs. I use PowerBI which is part of Office365! For the examples below, I pulled the data based on a recent project we completed. 

Measure Accuracy

In order to see a clear picture for which language teams are giving you the most accurate translations, you can view information on what kind of edits are coming up per language.

Data point 1: Issues per Categories

Use Standards to create categories for the issues from your review or come up with your own. For example, you can track the following categories:

  • Mistranslation
  • Accuracy
  • Terminoloty
  • Language-Grammar, Semantics, Spelling, Punctuation
  • Style
  • Country
  • Consistency

There is a little time investment, but you asking your editors to take the extra step to assign the edits a category to give you some powerful clues that you can troubleshoot should you notice some patterns.



NOTE: I realize the font is small in this screenshot. The yellow area shows me that I have the most issues across the board with Language-Grammar. 

Measure Efficiency

Efficiency is an important measure to know that your teams are the best at creating quality translations in a short amount of time. Editors have to spend more time on poor translation, which creates risks of missing deadlines or making major errors.

know the knowable

Data point 2: Number of Edits per Word/Segment

Tracking a % of how many edits per word or per segment gives you the picture of how much time your editors spend. You can probably assume that the longer they take, the more likely there might be a quality risk.


NOTE: In this case, I see that I have a high percentage of segments needing edited from Arabic, Somali, and Spanish. 

Measure Cost

Understanding your true cost for each language will help you make decisions that will enable affordable translations.

Data Point 3: Issues per Cost

By tracking the cost per language against the number of issues tracked will give you a huge data point and gives you a sense of what you’re paying for. For example, if you are paying a premium for Spanish and still having a lot of issues, you may consider negotiating the price with your vendor or even switching the vendor for that language.

2017-03-03_1103.pngNote: In the above example, I track my expenses as negative numbers. So, Russian was my most expensive language, but there weren’t a lot of issues, so possibly worth the value! Arabic had several issues, but low cost, and Japanese had Low issues and Low cost. 

There are many other data points that could be established. It’s really up to the imagination.

Naturally data just gives you a part of the picture. There are so many factors that go into providing quality translations. Ultimately, if your end-user is happy with the result, that is good quality! However, understanding the effort you spend to get there will help you make decisions even if you don’t know a word in that language!

If you’re Interested in learning more about using data, I’m going to be discussing at our next Google Live Stream. You can sign up to join live or get the link to watch it later.

What Human Translators Know that Machine Translators Don’t

With Google launching Google Neutral Machine Translation (GNMT), you might wonder if humans who do translation will soon become extinct. Well, that will never be the case. Machine translation isn’t new — it’s been around for many years. You would think that companies that need translation done would just fire all their localization vendors and save themselves lots of money, right? Wrong! 

Per the Centre for Next Generation Localisation,the Localization Industry is the 4th fastest-growing industry in the U.S. Why? Because even though machine translation is convenient and can maybe help you write a few words to impress your foreign friends, it can never replace translation done by humans because it’s just doesn’t know what humans know. So, what do human know that machines don’t? Let’s look at a few examples.

Human translators know how to translate correctly

And if they don’t understand the content, they will probably do some research to understand it before translating. Using machine translation is like using the thesaurus. Let me give you an example: have you seen that Friends episode where Joey uses a thesaurus to help him look smart? What he tried to say was, “They are warm, nice, people with big hearts.” By using a thesaurus, however, it turned into, ”They are human prepossessing homo sapiens with full sized theoretic pumps.” It may not be that extreme when you use a machine translator, but you get the point. Machines just don’t really know how to translate correctly. You really need that human touch to fully understand the content. Not to mention that human translators review their work, and machine translation just tells you, “good luck,” after it has given you its version of translated content.

Human translators know who you are

In some languages, there’s gender usage – male voice or female voice. For example, in Thai, the word “I” can be translated in at least 10 different ways, depending on who you are, who you are talking to, and what gender you are. When looking at the content, human translators will know how to translate it correctly. But if you use machine translation, you can do “Eenie Meenie Minie Mo,” and hope and pray that you pick the right word choice for it. Not only do you lose credibility in the eyes of your clients, but it can also be disrespectful to the native speakers of that language. The mistake could be costly!

Human translators know Slang

For me, one of the hardest parts of learning another language is learning idioms. A lot of English content contains slang; especially in movies. Machine translation won’t pick up on slang. For example, if a human translator sees, “oh wow, your brand new car is sick!” the human translator will probably translate something like, “oh wow, your brand new car is super cool.” Want to take a guess at what a machine’s translation would look like? Something close to, “oh wow, your brand new car is not feeling well.”? Machine translation just doesn’t know slang.

Still considering using machine translation? Machine translation can be your acquaintance, but it shouldn’t be your friend. If you want to keep your credibility, stick with human translators.

Need to Find a Human to Help?

How Quality Translation Can Help You Connect With Customers

If you have your website or online content available in other languages, the quality of translation directly affects how many customers you’ll connect with and how your company will be viewed. Let’s say that you’re in the market for a charger and when comparing different models you stumbled upon this description:

 Admittedly, it is a pretty extreme (and entertaining) example of translation gone wrong, but unless your goal is to elicit chuckles and smirks you should spend some time and effort towards quality translations.

When potential customers read poorly translated content two things happen:

  • They project the language quality onto the products/services and ultimately company image. Going back to our example, if the manufacturer didn’t spend enough time on quality translations, in what other areas might insufficiencies be expected? Product development? Safety procedures?
  • They look elsewhere for a similar product/service.

Once a customer forms a negative opinion about your offer he will stay clear of your company. How can you make sure that it doesn’t happen to you? Here are 5 steps:

Critically evaluate your source text

If the quality isn’t great in your language, it won’t be great in other languages. It’s not the translator’s responsibility, either, to improve poorly written content.

Avoid machine translations.

While these tools might be helpful in getting basic understanding of what it is that you offer they are far from delivering exceptional results. These programs lack contextual knowledge, cultural nuances and syntax command (if you’re really tempted, read the charger description again).

Choose the right translator for your line of business.

If you offer medical equipment, you may want to choose a vendor that specializes in medical terminology. Additionally, there are certain certifications that may help you zero down on the right translating service.

Be clear about your target audience and your goals.

Translators will choose appropriate words depending on who they are destined for.

Work closely with your vendor and be clear about your expectations.

Pass on any information that may be helpful in understanding your company culture. Monitor progress and find out if there are any questions or difficulties they face.


Affordable Translation in 5 Steps


One of the biggest competitors for translators is google translate. I get it. When you need affordable translation, especially for small to mid-size businesses, non-profits, or government agencies with limited funds, it is hard to resist a free tool that will allow users to get the “gist” of the message. Adding a google translate widget to your site allows users to access information in 100 different langauges. However, it might create content that is good for a laugh. But what if you don’t need 100 different languages? And you definitely don’t need anyone laughing at your website! What if you could create quality translations in an affordable way for the markets you want to reach? Well, you can! I’m going to give you a 5 step strategy that will help you keep your expenses down while providing human-sounding translation for your global markets.


Most translators charge by the word, so keeping translations affordable is simply a matter of keeping your word count low. Here are some ways you can do that in order to focus on creating understandable content for your target markets.

1. Identify your global markets

If you are on the web, you are global. Most likely you have people all over the world looking at your website. But, of those people, which ones are looking for your product or service and would be more likely to convert if they had access to information in their language? To find out, you can use google’s Global Market Finder. You can enter your keywords and it will tell you which locales are looking for those terms. Then you can narrow down which languages your translated content would be most effective for converting new clients. Start with one or two languages instead of 100!

2. Create a list of important terms, keywords, glossary items

Before you send your whole site to a translator, identify common terms, keywords, and industry words to build a glossary. You might even find glossaries that exist already for your industry! Building a glossary is a simple process.

  • Create a spreadsheet in google drive or excel.
  • Create headers per language
  • List the English terms to translate
  • Have linguists help fill in blanks. You may pay the linguists per word for this step. However, this is a reusable investment.

Once you build a glossary for frequently used terms, you won’t have to translate them every time. They’re already done.


3. Find qualified translators

Another key to keeping translation affordable is using qualified and professional linguists who are able to capture your tone and voice in the translation. Browse a linguist directory like Ideally, you would select two linguists per language for your project: one to translate and one to edit. 

4. Get a Quote

Once you’ve identified who will do the translation, ask for a quote before they start the project. You will send them the content files plus your glossary. Most translators have access to tools that will incorporate the glossary and create a quote that will take into account the terms that are already translated. When you receive the quote, make sure you review it carefully to ensure they do not charge for glossary terms (100% match) and they should provide discounts for words that are repeated throughout your texts (also called “fuzzy matches”). 

5. Build your memory

Once you’ve accepted the quote, the translation team will do their thing. However, make sure you ask them to provide a copy of the “Translation Memory” at the end of the project. This file will allow you to build your glossary and to save on the next time you need to update a page.



Don’t rely on clumsy tools like google translate to convert your text into languages of your target markets. By pinpointing the markets and working smart, you can provide quality human-sounding documents for your clients that will create loyalty and conversions!