There is an old Navajo saying, (at least I think it’s Diné Bizzad), “Many eyes keep danger at bay”.
And not only is it a good way to keep coyotes off your sheep, the same is true when you want to make sure your translators are not running astray into some linguistic arroyo.
We call these translation shepherds “editors.” But those editors can be a wild bunch in their own right. Because translation is a change process, and each change event introduces the possibility of further error. Proofreaders are required to ride herd on the editors. The entire process is called TEP, for translator, edit, and proof, and those many eyes are what keeps translation error at bay. Now every translation outfit claims to do TEP, and the professional ones really do. Best way to spot the bad guys is by an extra-low price.
Why the additional time and expense for TEP? Because translation can be as risky as raising livestock in the Four Corners. A single mistranslated word can cost a fortune. TEP value comes from this reduction of risk.
But sometimes, words and message are specific only to the client or context, particularly for marketing and advertising translation. And we’ve found that translators do not have good mind-reading medicine, no matter how many sand paintings they pour over.
We always ask our clients for existing glossaries, translation memories and other reference materials. But most of our client have neither the time nor the resources to supply reference material, or collaborate on a glossary or style guide. And while that tact can reduce error, the translation may still need a thorough going-over by a validator who knows the client business inside and out. Most often our clients do it themselves, and sometimes we provide training for the client validators or for the validator we provide.
But that’s not all. It then becomes the obligation of our translation teams to watch the watchers, and to use their linguistic skills to help our clients stay on the right trail. So, to extend the acronym, a really tight translation process is TEP-Validation Review. Now we have TEP-VR, This is not required for most of the work we do, but it can be vital for other projects.
Now I know I’m apt to beat a metaphor to death, but Diné bizzad is close to my heart. It is spoken by a beautiful people in a beautiful place bounded by the four sacred mountains. I will always be grateful to my dear departed friend Conrad House for his kindness in teaching me about his language and the Navajo way.
Diné Bizzad parses reality with mind-blowing beauty. But that’s a story for another day. Hagoone’.