lead linguist

The Role & Value of a Lead Linguist in a Translation Team

There is no denying that reaching high quality translation goals is a team effort. Project managers, translators, editors, and proofreaders all come together to help a translation project succeed. But sometimes there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. When it comes to large-volume projects with many teammates, or when a client has recurring translation needs, it can be wise to employ a lead linguist. 

Having a lead linguist ensures consistency and can bring peace of mind to both the client and the translation team. Both parties can be confident there is someone who has the big picture top of mind. And that someone is available to support them in every way. Let’s take a look at what a lead linguist does and how they can help a translation team succeed. 

How They Can Help a Translation Team

The translation, editing, and proofreading process (better known in the translation industry as TEP) is a process top-tier translation companies utilize. It can ensure accuracy and convey the proper meaning sourced from an original language. TEP can also keep projects and workflows moving along in a productive and effective manner. During TEP, there can be multiple translators, editors and proofreaders working on the same project. When a team is this large, it can be necessary to have a lead linguist on the team. 

A lead linguist can benefit a translation team and client in many ways. One such way is by effectively driving and communicating evolving customer requirements. As well as priorities that unify the style, tone, terminology and quality across the language team. In the translation industry, consistency and unity are key. 

What a Lead Linguist Does

A lead linguist wears many hats, but is primarily in charge of overseeing an entire translation project. They will be a team’s go-to person when a translator has a linguistic question. If a question has a clear answer or was resolved in the past, the lead linguist can ideally provide an answer or a solution quickly. They can save the team time and allow them to keep moving forward towards meeting their deadline. 

Tricky questions that don’t have clear answers and require clarification from a client will fall to the lead linguist to handle. They will communicate with the client and then pass along the resolution to their team. The lead linguist is in charge of terminology management. They are responsible for updating the glossaries and style guides in accordance with the client’s preferences. They also take into account any feedback or clarifications received from the client.  

Qualities That Deliver Results

Translation projects will see less setbacks and clients will receive the best results when a lead linguist is part of the team. These are some of the qualities lead linguists usually have:

  • Vast experience in localization
  • A meticulous attention to detail
  • An extensive knowledge of CAT tools
  • Very good coordination and organizational skills
  • Project management skills
  • The ability to manage time well and meet deadlines
  • Strong empathy for their teammates and clients
  • A drive to be proactive and solve problems
  • A commitment and passion for language
  • The ability to drive consistent high quality work amongst their team

The Takeaway

A lead linguist establishes and maintains strong and collaborative working relationships with a client’s language counterparts. They are also able to provide mentorship and leadership to the translation team. Both the clients and translation team can benefit greatly from having a lead linguist on their team.

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