100% human professional translation

Professional Level 3 Translation – distinct from ISO 17100 Translation (Level 2) or Transcreation (Level 1) – involves the dedicated work of an individual, professional translator on a text, or a team of translators collaborating on different sections of a single document.

Level 3 translation has long been the preferred choice among clients, offering excellent value for cost. It is still by and large the standard to this day in professional language services, despite the dramatic breakthrough of post-editing (level 4 translation).

Usually, any translator working on a level 3 translation project will hold at least a Master’s degree in translating and/or interpreting. In all but a few cases, they will have at least five years’ translation experience. However, as the demand for multilingual services continues to grow, the rules are becoming more flexible so that the supply of translation more accurately meets the demand. To achieve this, some of the discipline’s strict and somewhat counterproductive rules have been overhauled and the types of translation on offer have become more clearly segmented. This means that a growing number of translators who are entirely bilingual, and who boast significant experience in any number of sectors (science, marketing, or engineering for example) or who possess excellent literary skills, can be recruited despite not having formal translation qualifications. The market is changing, and multilingual services are following.

Blurred lines

After the massive improvement made in machine translation during the last decade, thanks in large part to the development of neural machine translation, many freelance translators started to automatically pre-translate any texts that they were assigned for translation. This meant that the translators were not actually translating, but post-editing; sometimes without acknowledging it, and sometimes without realising. The thin line between translation and post-editing was becoming ever narrower.

The different levels of translation became more clearly segmented for this very reason, with post-editing occupying its own official position as an entry-level service.

We firmly believe that machine pre-translation inherently limits translators’ creativity when crafting a text in another language; this is why Atenao has a contract in place that prohibits our translators from pre-translating documents with any sort of machine translation tool when they are assigned a 100% human translation.

Here are the key stages of 100% human translation:

  1. The project manager analyses elements for translation and file formats, assesses word count, and processes files using a Computer Aided Translation tool when suitable. They leverage translation memories and glossaries, advise clients on optimising budget and timing, and provide project estimates.
  2. We consistently choose a professional translator, or a team of professionals, who are native speakers of the target language and possess extensive, relevant expertise in the document’s subject matter. Our regular clients tend to have a dedicated translator for each of their target languages. In case the initial translator is unavailable, we have two additional experts, well-versed in the client’s terminology, ready to step in. This approach allows us to ensure ongoing consistency and accuracy in our translations.
  3. Translation in the Computer Aided Translation tool which is most suited to the project (unless not recommended).
  4. Correction and improvement: After completing the translation, the translator performs necessary revisions and fine-tuning to enhance the quality of their work. This could involve revising the phrasing, moving the text around slightly, ensuring the correct vocabulary is used and adjusting terminology.
  5. Consistency check: the translator ensures that the translation is consistently harmonised, respecting the client’s terminology and style standards. We also employ terminology management tools to guarantee the consistent use of key vocabulary.
  6. Proofreading and review: once any consistency changes have been made, the translator carefully checks their work to ensure that quality, accuracy and style criteria are met.

The advantages of Atenao’s 100% human translation service:

  • Value for money: level 3 translation is the most cost-effective way of obtaining professional, fully human translations.
  • A level 3 professional translation is guaranteed to be carried out without the use of automatic or machine translation.
  • This level is the assurance that your project will be translated and revised by a native linguist, rigorously selected by our in-house team.
  • Confidentiality: unlike conventional machine translation tools that, except for their premium versions, store and use your translation data, our level 3 professional translation service ensures the utmost confidentiality in processing your files. As an additional step, Atenao has put together a comprehensive NDA with its translators, encompassing all documents entrusted to them. Thanks to this process, any files that you send to us are always treated in a confidential manner.

Suitable projects for this translation level:

  • Projects with a medium lifespan.
  • Texts which have been crafted for careful reading, and for which a full and detailed understanding is expected.
  • High-end projects which could tolerate a very small number of residual, namely typographical, errors.
  • Extremely high-end and specialised projects which are to be edited and proofread by the client before publication.
  • Projects with an elegant and well-honed writing style that needs to be replicated in the target language.

What are the limitations of a professional, 100% human translation?

The limitations of a professional, 100% human translation are essentially those of a human translator.

Turnaround time

A professional translator can generally translate around 2000 words a day for a level 3 translation. Some individuals may be able to handle up to 3000 words, but any more than this is practically impossible, without sacrificing the quality of the work. Bearing this limit in mind, some instances may call for the translation agency to split the source text between a team of translators in order to meet tight deadlines. If any more than 3 translators are needed, another process involving a dedicated platform to ensure consistency throughout the translations is necessary; however, this makes the workflow less smooth and can therefore increase costs.

Undeniable quality, with undeniable limits

Two pairs of eyes are always more efficient than one, and trusting a translator to proofread their own work is naturally a potential source of quality issues. To minimise this risk, our translators are subject to ongoing evaluation after each translation project. If they do not meet our high standards, our partnership is reduced or stopped altogether. This method ensures that we only work with the very best translators.

This translation level should be avoided in the following cases:

  • An extremely high-end, specialised translation is required, and no client proofreading has been allowed for. This is the case when the cost and impact of a mistranslation would be considerably higher than that initially paid to produce the translation.
  • Proofreading by another linguist is required (in the case of a level 2 ISO 17100 translation).
  • The translation could easily be replaced by post-editing (e.g. certain software, product databases, reference manuals, instruction booklets, accommodation guides, simple legal and administrative contracts, etc.).
  • The text to be translated is highly sensitive, and its misunderstanding could have grave consequences.
  • When the text to be translated has been designed to elicit a certain response in the reader: (engagement, emotional impact, brand awareness, image perception, commitment and loyalty, change in behaviour or attitude, purchase, etc.). This would be the case, for example, for marketing and communication translations, which call for transcreation (or level 1 translation).
  • This type of text demands an exceptionally accurate and precise translation; anything less could lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations, potentially resulting in adverse outcomes.

It may be better to opt for post-editing, ISO 17100 translation or transcreation, with the decision being made on a case-by-case basis.

Why should you trust your language service provider with your level 3 translations?

  • To begin with, because Atenao’s extensive expertise in the field enables the agency to offer valuable guidance on the most suitable translation level for your project and provide the necessary resources to successfully execute it.
  • Moreover, because by choosing to work with an agency which clearly distinguishes between different categories of translation, you can rest assured that at no point in your level 3 translation will machine translation be incorporated.
  • Because the same translator will be assigned to all of your level 3 translation projects where possible, thanks to their good working relationship and ongoing partnership with the agency. The same linguist will also be able to translate your level 2 and level 4 documents when deemed necessary or preferable.