The Irony of ISO Certifications

ISO certifications have become a trend amongst translation agencies. Such a certification undoubtedly sounds like a mark of professionalism and commitment to certain standards, and of course it is reassuring to potential clients. Sadly, it is one of those things that “look great on paper but”: the new demands this creates can prove detrimental to the agency-translator relationship.

In the UK, a professional translator is usually at least an Associate, if not a full Member, of either the CIOL and/or the ITI. This means that our qualifications and references have been checked, that we Continue reading

Join the Translators’ Conversation

When two translators meet, you can bet on the questions that they will ask each other; they are always the same. Yet it is never boring. In fact, it is an important conversation and clients can benefit from asking those same questions to any translator they meet.

While these questions make handy ice-breakers, they also enable us to Continue reading

Certified Translation: Who Should You Commission?

Dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy can be a headache. Add translation and foreign authorities to the mix and stress kicks in. But, while it is important to commission the right person for the job, the process is much simpler than you might think.

So who can provide a certified translation? Well, Continue reading

Commodity Translators vs Service Translators

The translation agencies’ race to the bottom – endlessly undercutting each other’s rates and claiming to provide the best for less – has led many new starters and less confident translators to accept unsustainable rates, creating two increasingly apparent categories: the “commodity translators” (slaves who translate for agencies or clients unwilling to pay decent rates) and the “service translators” (business-aware linguists who work primarily with direct clients for reasonable rates and who do more than just Continue reading

Crowdsourcing: the Secret to a Motley Translation

While crowdsourcing may seem like a conveniently cheap approach to translation, it is symptomatic of a misconception of translation as an exact science and generates a text as variegated as the crowd that produces it. Continue reading

ProZ and Cons

Clients who are unsure what a reasonable fee for translation is will likely look online and find average rates on translators’ platforms such as ProZ.com or Translators’ Café. Unfortunately, these websites have their limitations despite their best efforts and should be taken with a (generous) pinch of salt.

First, these platforms are open to Continue reading

The Joker in Disguise

Last month, this mass email landed in my inbox from a translation agency that regularly sends assignment offers that I rarely accept due to their unrealistic deadlines. This one was beyond unrealistic, however; it was surreal. It was sent on a Monday evening, just after 6pm:

“Would you be available to Continue reading

Technology in Translation

I have been quite busy lately, with little time to write a blog post for this week. However, here is an excellent article on technology in translation that you may like to read: Why So Many Translators Hate Translation Technology.

For clarification as to what CAT tools are, please see my post on the topic: The Translator’s Little Helpers.

Talk to the Expert Direct

It is somewhat unsettling to receive panic requests from agencies asking whether I would be available to translate some urgent medical text. I do not touch medical documents and my professional indemnity insurance would not cover me in case of subsequent incident. Do agencies ever go back to the client and admit that they could not source a competent person in time to meet the tight deadline they had promised? Or are there individuals who do take such assignments on despite their lack of Continue reading

The Downward Spiral

Translation agencies never cease to amaze me. A couple of weeks ago, an agency I have never worked for emailed a list of professionals (including myself) saying that they work extensively with machine translation and are therefore recruiting post-editors. To try and convince translators to drop their standards and self-esteem and accept such work, they list the following “benefits”: Continue reading

Finding Your Secret Helpers

Translators, like fairy folk, are quietly concealed amidst the wilderness of human civilisation. Yet they are everywhere, ready to shake their magic wand at any text you wish, transmogrifying it into the wonderful language of your choice on demand. And if you know where to look and manage to catch one, they have the alluring power to connect you to many rich and beautiful lands… So where do you find these marvellous creatures? Continue reading