Factual inutility of “God’s Proof” after ten years’ experience

Since the end of the 80s, Eurologos no longer does test translations. Why?
Fundamentally: out of respect for the client, for the seriousness of their own professionalism and for at least three technical reasons based on linguistic quality.

1 – Eurologos celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2007: what does it still have to prove?

First and foremost, a multilingual translation firm that can boast many years of experience and work on the markets (international and with many offices!) no longer has anything to prove: not to have the true conditions and procedures intended to guarantee excellent (and not simply good quality) translations would be to lack respect for its future clients.

2 – A test translation is never probing: it is the work of in-house translators!

A test translation is never a guarantee for the subsequent translations to be produced for the fatally anxious client who requests it. This is the case for at least three reasons:

a – The very risky instability of freelance translators

There is nothing to guarantee that the translator who performs the test will be subsequently used (especially for “monolocalized” companies, the infamous “mailboxes” who employ freelancers): freelance translators also work – among other things – for other translation agencies;

b – 50 possible errors per line

The same translator can moreover make mistakes – up until his or her retirement – in translations that follow: even the best of them can make more than 50 errors per line, with lines that are also systematically highly changeable (this is the reason why Eurologos employs at least two translators and a terminologist per text, who are in fact employed in-house by its agencies);

c – The six translation-related criteria and the acceptability of a translation

There is a hierarchy of at least six assessment criteria that determine the level of acceptability of a translation (spelling, syntax, semantic faithfulness, terminology, geo- and socio-style, personal idiolect): no test translation can guarantee this future acceptability, whilst other conditions (see below) can!

In truth, the only circumstance under which a test translation can be meaningful is relative to the assessment of a very small highly personalized “mailbox” or of an isolated translator.

3 – Professionalism on the “global climate” which changes from day to day

If future clients ask for test translations, it is to attempt to “reassure themselves” of the quality of the translations to be performed.
But it is up to the true professionals to inform them on the matter and to educate them, naturally, in this translatological culture which, in this case, is not their own: to each their own specialization. It is up to the supply market – as is known – to inform and educate its own demand market!
The first service that a modern company renders to its clients indeed consists in offering them their professional expertise so as to bring them up to date and into line as regards their needs to buy competitively on the markets. The fact of carrying out the task without “flinching” in performing the requested test translation can be equated to, say, a weather agency having to provide a forecast to a television channel in order to prove its professionalism regarding the global climate, which is by definition highly changeable…

4 – Here is what is needed: multinationalization, translation memories and translation-related expertise that has proved itself over time.

It is however very simple. In order to select a good multilingual translation agency, three conditions have to be met:

a – Glocalism

The agency must have – in the country of the target languages and geo-styles – as many fully operational offices (with in-house translators, revisers, terminologists, graphic designers and webmasters) as there are languages to be translated: if only one translation language is required, a small local “monolocalized” agency may be selected. Moreover, how can a monolocalized agency in a single country and having a single language be in a position to check and validate a translated text (and not simply have it transposed by a freelancer)?

b – Translation memories

In addition to this first characteristic known as “glocal”, that is to say global and local at the same time (making it possible to translate, check and validate – we are forever repeating ourselves on this most important point – texts in the markets of the target language), there is a need to check that the agency to be selected as partner has well-compiled translation memories to allow use of a precise phraseology, company technolects and pertinent terminology: even and above all for the future (in our world of countless specializations, there can be no more translators unduly presented as omniscient);

c – Modern translatological expertise

First and foremost one should never base oneself on what can be termed “God’s proof” (the test translation) to “certify” the know-how of the agency in question, but instead on the last two characteristics (is the candidate agency glocally multinationalized with – what is more – translation memories?) and on the Knowledge Management of the translatological culture truly presented...

All clients, after reading these four explanations, will be able to perceive the laughable nature of a test translation when faced with the forms of assurance required to correctly select a multinational services provider.

But how much does this cost?

When we speak of quality, of truly guaranteed quality, we have a tendency to fire the question “how much will it cost?”. This is the naturally preoccupying question that is put forward. The answer is just as surprising: it does not cost more (it even often costs less) than the services of “mailboxes”. Indeed, the monolocalization of said agencies in a single country both forestalls the checking and validation of texts received from freelancers and the achievement of economies of scale which come with the multinationalization of their offices (alas unrealized).
It is in the interest of clients to know this before selecting their partner suppliers.