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You have about 30 seconds to persuade potential foreign language customers to buy from you, so all of your translated material needs to get it right the first time. These 10 questions will help you choose a high quality, professional service that will nail your translations perfectly.

  1. Many translation services won’t quote a price up front without first seeing the specific material to be translated, so ask what they charge per 1000 words.
  2. Is their price quote based on the number of source words or target words? What is the difference: If your material is being translated from English into Quebec-French then Quebec-French will be the target language, and Quebec-French often results in about 10% more words than the English-sourced material.
  3. Did they give you a fixed price quote, or might they charge you more later?
  4. Are all the service’s translators fully qualified? What’s their hiring process for translators?
  5. Do their translators work in their native languages, and travel back to their homelands often?
  6. If they miss your deadline will you still have to pay something? If so, why, and how much?
  7. Does their price include proof-reading by another translator?
  8. If your translation is industry specific or technical, does the translator have experience in the subject?
  9. In which file and format will your translation be returned?
  10. Will other translation services provide you with a free trial translation of a portion of the job?

Ask these ten questions of translation services you are considering. You will get the information you need to choose wisely, get your translations done right the first time and avoid later problems.

  1. Use Machine Translation (MT) only for material that is not sensitive. Google Translate and Bing record and store every word translated on their systems to build their databases. You never want potential public access to your confidential, highly sensitive documents or international communications.
  2. Choose a translator who is an expert in both the source language and your target language. Microsoft recognizes 16 varieties of French, but these varieties are more than choosing words. They are also in the syntax: how a sentence is structured, the way a sentence is put together, and colloquialisms. For example, the word ‘e-mail’ in Quebec French is ‘courriel’ whereas in Parisian French it is ‘mail’.
  3. Word manipulators are not translators. Some people think they can translate because they are bilingual. One client had a bilingual salesman who ‘retranslated’ our work believing that our translation ‘was not right.’ The result was amusing to read; however, the company understood the consequences of not hiring a professional translator when we re-translated the salesman’s ‘translation’ back to English.
  4. Your brand can be irreparably damaged if you don’t use a professional translator. Plus, any savings may be erased by needing to hire a translator to correct the problems. Remember, you only have about 30 seconds to persuade customers to buy your product or service. You’ve invested money, time and effort to export your business to the province of Quebec, your research shows that the people of Quebec are proud of their language, and they expect to read properly written Quebec French. Poor translations will hurt sales by reflecting equally poor quality upon your products and services.


  1. Choose an experienced translator with expertise in your field. There is a wide variety of topics in the world from philosophy to nuclear science, and a translator cannot specialize in all of them. To determine if a translator has expertise and experience in your field, you should:
    1. Ask to see examples of their work in your field
    2. Confirm their years of experience and credentials / certifications
    3. Get references from recent clients
    4. Trust that a professional translator will tell you if they can handle the subject matter of your documents
  1. Beware of exceedingly low prices. Translators, like accountants or lawyers, are trained professionals. Choosing an accountant or lawyer based on the lowest rate will rarely give you the best quality. Professional translators are:
  • Professional communicators who transpose a written text from one language into another and convey its functional and emotional content as faithfully as possible.
  • Must have an excellent knowledge of the source language and full mastery of the target language.
  • Qualified to write original material, edit texts and produce creative adaptations.
  • Are intellectually curious, skilled at transferring ideas from one language to another, highly professional, and have broad general knowledge.
  • Must have good interpersonal skills, an adaptable nature, and strong writing skills.
    * Source:
  1. Translators are business and communications advisors helping you generate sales. They understand the business laws, the languages, and the culture of the Quebec market. Translators must parse the grammar of a sentence or a particular word in the original document they are translating, and must advise you to consider revisions for clearer text to communicate to the Quebec consumers.

There is a famous case involving a major cell phone provider where the court judgement ruled in their favour based on the French translation of a contract, because it better reflected the intent of the provider than the original English version.If you can rely on your translator to provide a quality translation, you can also rely on them to advise you if some clarification of a certain passage might be necessary. It is all part of the service you should get.