Occasionally, I receive documents that do not seem to have been finalised: they have not been proofread – spelling mistakes, words missing – or they are full of track changes, with questions for the author in the margin, which will probably mean changes later on. In other cases, the text seems fine, but once the translation has been done, the client comes back with changes and/or a few new sentences.
Is this due to poor organisation, rushing without thinking ahead, assuming that the text is OK before another person has approved it? Whatever the reason, this is bad news to the translator, and it saves you no time at all – let alone money. It means extra work for everyone, of course, and such bitty tasks are more time-consuming for the linguist than you might think.
As we all know, it is always easier to get going with one big task than to switch from one small thing to another. Additionally, editing a translation is not a matter of simply changing a few words here and there. The whole paragraph (and possibly more) has to be checked again for consistency and meaning. If a change does not impact your text in the original language, it may do so in the other language. For instance, in most other languages, things have a gender. So if you change a word in English, it remains a “it” throughout, but in French, it will have to be either a “he” or a “she”, so changing one word may require changing all subsequent pronouns as well as the ending of adjectives, since they too reflect the gender of the object. This is a slow and painstaking task, and you will be charged for the extra time.
It is also tricky to get back into a text that we had put out of our minds as finished, and we will likely be in the middle of something completely different when you contact us with updates – so our availability could be yet another issue.
Make sure you iron out your documents before submitting them to your translator. It will help to ensure efficiency and quality as well as save you time and money.