What Makes Us the Best at What We Do?

What Makes Us the Best at What We Do?

What is it about a Honyaku Plus translation that makes it stand out—or even unique?

We like to think that it is our process—that is, the method and the people that we employ to try and get as close as possible to the elusive goal of 100% correctness.

We may not be the only people in the industry doing it this way (we’ve never checked), but we’re certain that we have few (if any) imitators.

For purpose of illustration, let’s imagine that we’re talking about a moderate-sized (10,000-character) Japanese-to-English translation project on a specialized topic, such as digital music.

The right translator for the job

Our first task is to find the right translator in our database. This will be an experienced translator whose native language is English, and who is knowledgeable in the field of digital music. This may be because he has worked in that field, e,g. as an engineer or programmer, or because he has a keen personal interest in the topic—i.e. it is his hobby.

We find the most qualified people available, and set them up to collaborate in a way that maximizes the effect of their individual skill sets.

The reasons why we qualify our translators using these criteria are as follows:

  • Translators who are just starting out are almost always learning on the job. Their output for the first year or two is generally not ready for prime time. (In fact, there are even online translation services who cater to novice translators by offering them work, which the site operators sell to their clients at a cut rate, with the caveat that better quality translation is also available—if the client is willing to pay more).
  • Translators who are not native speakers of the target language (English in this instance) are not able to write flawlessly and fluently. Grammatical and syntactic errors will inevitably creep in, and these will often compound to change the meaning of the translated text from that which was intended—compare for example the difference in meaning between “few” and “a few”.
  • A translator who is not immersed or experienced in the topic at hand will struggle to recreate the style and typical vocabulary usage of writing that is used in the field. In contrast, someone who is used to reading synthesizer specifications and digital audio technology reviews will already be steeped in the terminology and writing styles used, and will likely have little difficulty reproducing these in his translation.

The next job is find a checker in our database. This will be a native Japanese speaker with experience of reviewing translations. The checker’s job is to find and flag any issues in the the translator’s first draft. These could be errors of meaning, accidental omissions, unwarranted addition of items that do not appear in the source text, missed nuances or common translation missteps such as incorrectly rendered names and numbers.

The third (optional) task is to find an editor. This will be a (usually monolingual) native English speaker with a particular flare for polishing and tightening up the written work of others. To reduce costs, some clients are happy to skip this editing step.

Once we have secured the services of the right personnel, our project manager will set the schedule using our on-line collaboration system, and ensure that everyone working on the project will have access to the necessary text materials. The four-step translation process is now carried out as follows:

The translation process

  • The translator produces his first draft and uploads it to our system. 
  • The checker receives automatic notification, and reviews the translator’s draft. Without making any actual changes to the draft text, the checker flags any issues he finds, using the comment function in the software.
  • The translator reviews the checker’s comments and makes corrections as he sees fit. (As the native speaker, the translator is the arbiter of how the text should be revised—if at all.)
  • The translator’s revised translation is now passed to the editor, who polishes it and tightens it up, to bring it up to publication quality.

The intention is that the first three steps will produce a text which accurately and completely reflects the meaning of the original source text, while the fourth step adds the final lustre, producing a finished article that will read as naturally as a document that had been produced in English to start with.

To put it in a nutshell, we find the most qualified people available, and set them up to collaborate in a way that maximizes the effect of their individual skill sets. The net effect is that our long-term clients have come rely on our ability to get their message out faithfully and accurately in another language.