Brief Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish Translation
February 10, 2017 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I need to translate 20 words to Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, and it needs to be right (so I don't want to farm it out to untested freelancers on Mefi jobs). It seems crazy to try to find, deal with, and pay three separate translators. Is there a single service I could go to that's reliable? Or anyone have any better ideas? This shouldn't be hard to get done, but I'm starting to get stressed!
posted by Quisp Lover to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe check out Fiverr? You can read reviews to help you pick accurate translators.
posted by INFJ at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2017

Send the same word to 5 (or 10, or 15) different people, analyze the results.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2017

You may have already looked, but Google has a lot of results under "translation service", some of them with reviews. Our office uses one, and they generally have tons of translators in the bank that they can reach out to for quick and accurate translations.
posted by invincible summer at 12:42 PM on February 10, 2017

Fiver is interesting, thanks! It's not encouraging, though, that almost none of the translators seem able to produce fluid, non-awkward, grammatical English even in their 5-6 word self-touts. It's almost comical.

The most top-rated Turkish person:

Send me your business I will take care of it as it is my business ;)
You will not be disappointed! Try me!

Soon, new gigs will be available for you!

posted by Quisp Lover at 12:44 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I could try to help you with the Persian, so long as the words you need translated aren't highly technical/specialized knowledge. (My qualifications: native speaker, undergrad degree from a US university in Persian Language and Literature.)

Any chance you could contact your local university's relevant language department(s)? You could put up a flyer in their department or contact their department secretary about how best to get in touch with someone about a quick freelance gig, I'm sure some grad students could help you out. If your local university has a Near Eastern Studies department, that would be where I'd start.
posted by yasaman at 1:04 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding invincible, any large translation agency will have translators for all three languages. You will deal with the agency office, not the individual translators.

I can recommend the "Lawyers and Merchants" agency in NYC. There are many others.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:17 PM on February 10, 2017

An organization I work for, has a fair-wage professional translation service. We have translators in just about every language pair. We're focused on journalism, so the quality would be high (this service is just a way to help contributors in all parts of the world generate income). This would be an easy and affordable task, I think. Please send me a MeMail if you want more information.
posted by My Dad at 1:17 PM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

When you do find a potential source of translators, there are better ways of judging their suitability than whether their English looks perfect imo. If they're not a native speaker their English won't look native in some cases, but that doesn't mean they can't understand a text and translate that into something natural and accurate in their native language, the target language.
posted by sacchan at 5:17 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I didn't say it was the best (or only) test. But all these translators do Turkish->English as well as English->Turkish. And the larger issue is that meticulousness is a necessary quality, and if these guys can't be bothered to pay attention to the six words with which they describe themselves, they're certainly not what I'm looking for. It's like hiring a sign painter whose own sign has a typo, or a cybersecurity consultant whose password is 123456.
posted by Quisp Lover at 5:56 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not encouraging, though, that almost none of the translators seem able to produce fluid, non-awkward, grammatical English even in their 5-6 word self-touts.

I’d caution against judging someone’s ability in one language based on their performance in another.

I occasionally work as a translator and interpreter, as do two of my friends. We all grew up bilingual in languages A and B, but while my split was largely 50-50, theirs was closer to 20-80. They are fantastic for jobs in which A is the source language and B the target language (they are far and away the best for A to B of all translators & interpreters I've ever worked with), but pretty poor the other way round. I’m OK in both, but do at times make mistakes that mainly come from inappropriately transferring syntactic structures or translating expressions in a literal manner (just to make a point here: I DON’T make these mistakes when I am just conversing in either of these languages; the errors are entirely related to the activity). On the whole, though, I'd say that my two colleagues are quite a bit better than me for target language B texts, even though we all speak B equally well (and I am quite a bit better than them for lg A). Obvioulsy, in your case this doesn't mean that you should chose a translator purely because of their indifferent command of English! What I mean is that making mistakes in the source language doesn't carry as much weight as one would think when it comes to a translator's target language competence.

Anyway, my solution to my own shortcomings is to ALWAYS edit when I’m translating (and, when I’m interpreting, focus until my brain fumes and hope for the best). Ideally, I’d have a lot of time between translating and editing, so that I come to the text with ‘innocent’ eyes. An even better alternative would be to have a different person do the editing, but mostly clients are too stingy to pay both a translator and an editor (TBH, I think every written text, translation or not, would benefit from a second pair of eyes).

So my suggestion would be: find someone, maybe based on references, to do the initial translation. Given that it is a short text, ask for at least two versions*. Then, find someone else to edit/ evaluate the translation (a word of warning here – try to find someone who’s a decent human being; it seems to happen quite a lot that the ‘editor’ denigrates the initial translation for their own reason). Then, if you really want to make sure that you got the perfect wording in all three languages, include the text in the context you want to use it in (ex. a flyer, a brochure, on a webpage), organize a few test readers and have them evaluate the impact of the context (so not just the text; many people who are not professional editors either don’t catch subtle errors or hyper-correct, but people are generally pretty OK at evaluating the general impact and pointing out when/ if something about the text itself interferes with the message, even if they can't pinpoint exactly what that is).

*The reason for the two versions and the ‘user testing’ is that very short text are really tricky, particularly if they are not in context. For example, we once amused ourselves translating “Mind the gap” in as many languages as we could. Truth is, you can’t really come up with a good translation that is also close to the original as possible. In one of my languages, the best translation that actually conveys the right meaning is roughly “Mind the rails” (I don’t know if this is what is announced for our own trains where I live; I don’t think we have anything, actually). If you did not know what the phrase refers to, you’d variously translate it as ‘Mind the hole’, ‘Mind the lack’, ‘Mind the breach’, 'Mind the gaping hole', etc. So context-free translation and evaluation can miss out on a lot of implied meaning (either due to language or cultural context), making the text in the target language much less effective (and sometimes downright unintelligible, given the situation you want to use it in).
posted by miorita at 7:06 AM on February 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

« Older A topical question about topical anesthetic   |   What is the best way for an anti-Trump group to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.