What Makes a Good Linguist?

January 17, 2013 by Acclaro
Category: Q&A
what-makes-a-good-linguist

Our linguists — translators, editors, language leads — are the core team behind our translation and localization services. Great linguists lead to great translations. Below is a peek into our process to finding, evaluating, promoting, and managing linguists so that your localization project is of the highest quality.

Finding and Evaluating Translators

Utilizing a thorough evaluation process, we begin with qualifying linguists for the translator role, the starting point for further career development in a language team. Basic criteria include:

  • Being a native speaker of the "target" language (the language into which they will translate)
  • University degrees in translation, languages, linguistics or technical fields
  • Solid and proven translation and/or editing experience
  • Proficiency with translation memory tools
  • Relevant subject matter expertise, in areas such as marketing, web and software localization

Depending on the type of translation or subject matter, the qualifications for the linguist candidates will vary. We will often consider referrals from and recommendations by linguists with whom we already work. To determine the quality of the candidate's translation work, we administer a translation test as part of the application process. Our test contains texts in a variety of subject matters and is carefully evaluated for major and minor lexical, grammatical, punctuation, stylistic, and formatting errors. Along with solid translation skills, our fast-paced environment also requires quick thinking and the ability to communicate effectively at every stage of the translation process.

Promotion to Editor, Language Lead or Linguistic Tester

Once qualified translators are onboarded, our internal process requires continuous review. Our editors, who are generally seasoned translators, carefully check the translated text for each project against the source text and any reference materials, ensuring that the translator has made a consistently faithful and accurate translation. The editor will provide feedback on translation quality to the project manager, who assesses the translator’s overall performance from project to project.

Based on this ongoing feedback, translation and resource development managers decide whether to promote the linguist to the more advanced roles of the editor, language lead, and/or linguistic tester:

  • Editors, as noted above, review all translated content and ensure linguistic consistency.
  • Language leads are responsible for preparing reference materials, answering queries from translators and editors during the translation process, and performing some editing and quality assurance tasks.
  • Translators with extensive software localization experience have the opportunity to become linguistic testers and identify truncations, misalignments, untranslated strings in localized software and focus on the translation context in its final format.

We know that our work has a direct effect on our clients' global reputations, so we make sure that all of our linguists are consistently reviewed to provide the best translation quality possible. While the quality produced by each individual linguist along the way is key, the well-organized process and overall management of the translation team ensures great translation from start to Finnish (ha! we just couldn't resist). 

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.

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