Behind the Scenes

Translators are usually sole traders but never sole treaders: thanks to our linguists’ networks, we complement our offerings, share tips and resources, protect ourselves against bad payers and time-wasters, help our clients out and keep them away from crooks. We stick together and strengthen the industry to everyone’s benefit.


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

Cheaper, But at What Cost?

Last month I was commissioned by a translation agency to proofread an English-to-French translation for an art centre. I was simply told that the end client wanted to make sure that the text was impeccable. The proofreading task turned into an editing one.

While all translation agencies claim to focus primarily on quality, the reality from a supplier’s experience is often, well… Continue reading

Words for Sale?

When providing a quote, a translator often gives a per-1,000-words rate, a rate that confuses clients more that it enlightens them. This has been the norm for decades and, sadly, few individuals question whether this works for them and/or their clients and fewer still dare to challenge the system. But before becoming a translator, who understood what a thousand words was? I certainly didn’t. So how can we expect clients to understand? Charging an hourly rate is clearer and fairer for the client and the translator alike.

Translators, like editors, proofreaders, etc. like to know the word count of the text so as to Continue reading

Lost in Delusion

A well-known multilingual website has recently advertised for a vacancy: Machine Translation Manager. Looking at the job description, they required the person to have a degree in one or two languages, in linguistics, or something in that area; be fluent in at least one foreign language; and have extensive experience of CAT tools (which have nothing to do with machine translation (MT), by the way). These criteria clearly tell us that MT is not up to the task yet.

In my experience, fixing an MT, i.e. trying to make sense of it (even with the source text under your elbow) and Continue reading

How to Get Your Best Clients

In business as in life, our mistakes are our best teachers. And when a client makes a mistake, it can work in defence of professional translators.

Last autumn, a friend of mine lost a bid to another translator who could allegedly provide the same quality of work for a much lower price. Understandably, my friend was not amused; she was also sceptical as to the quality the other provider would actually supply – we (colleagues) all were. Last spring, the client contacted her  Continue reading