How does a translation project work?
First, there are a couple prerequisites.
There must be someone willing to do the translation who knows the target language well and can write well.
The translator must have a proper text to translate from, the technology or materials to write with, and adequate support. There are many kinds of support. Encouragement will be crucial, since translating can be a tedious process. Financial support is usually necessary, since translating doesn't usually pay for itself. Linguistic and theological support will be crucial at many stages.
Secondly, it's important to know what you're aiming for.
Wycliffe's criteria for a good translation are:
Clear, Accurate, Natural, and Acceptable
The meaning must be clear to the target audience. The translation must be accurate to the original text. The language, flow, and style must be natural to the target audience; otherwise the translation will seem awkward or foreign. Finally, the translation must be theologically acceptable; there is no substitute for being true to God's Word and character.
Now, on to the Stages of Translation!
FIRST DRAFT: A preliminary, tentative translation that will be tested
and improved. Revisions continue throughout successive drafts.
REVIEWER CHECK: Speakers of the target language read through the
translation to make corrections and suggest improvements.
BACK TRANSLATION: Rendering a translation back into a language
of wider use, usually in a word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase format.
The back translation enables consultants who do not know the target
language to evaluate the accuracy and adequacy of the translation.
CONSULTANT CHECK: A skilled and experienced adviser meets with
the translation team to discuss the wording of the translation, verse-by-
verse. The adviser may share how known problem passages have been
handled by others and also give advice on broader and more general
aspects of the program.
EXEGETICAL CHECK: Ensuring accuracy in translation and
faithfulness to the source text by comparing the translation to the
original Greek or Hebrew.
CONSISTENCY CHECK: Ensuring consistent translation of key
biblical terms, important theological concepts, Bible names and parallel
passages throughout the entire text. Reasons for necessary variations
REVISION: Changes made to the translation to improve accuracy and
readability, making it more faithful to the original meaning and more
natural in expression in the target language. Every translation goes
through many revisions. Revisions require follow-through, entering
corrections and further rechecking.
FORMAT AND STYLE CHECK: Ensuring that supplemental material is
prepared and checked, including a preface, footnotes, glossaries, maps,
pictures, captions and introductions to the books. Verses and chapters
are numbered, and spelling, punctuation and paragraphing are checked.
PROOFREADING: The long, intense and demanding task of checking
all the details of an entire manuscript, including those listed under
“Format and Style Check.”
TYPESETTING: Once final decisions are made on the aesthetic
presentation of the book (size and style of print, overall layout and
design, etc.), the edition is ready for print.