How to be a VIC (IV): Think Ahead

We all like to know what to expect, so well-organised clients with generous deadlines and no surprises stand a better chance of making it to the translator’s list of VICs (very important clients). Last-minute panics, documents arriving in dribs and drabs and sudden changes are a translator’s worst nightmare. Good planning makes good friends.

Think “first arrived, first served”. It may be a good idea to Continue reading

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Translating with Design in Mind: the Space Challenge

When working on texts destined to be published in a strongly visual context (e.g. website, magazine, brochure, illustrated book, etc.), one of the challenges is space. Because the same story in two different languages will always result in two different lengths, the layout, font size, and other visual parameters need to be adjusted significantly.

English is concise, flexible and snappy. So much can be said with so little. In comparison, Continue reading

How Much?!

On a translators’ community website, someone has left a poor review on another translator’s page for non-payment of a €3 invoice for subcontracted work, despite much chasing. What is ridiculous isn’t so much the chasing of such a tiny amount; it is the amount itself. It is a sure sign that someone somewhere doesn’t know what they’re doing. Continue reading

Translation or Localisation?

An agency once sent a translation with some complaints from the client to me by accident. The problematic translation was a Belgian French version of a text that I had translated for them into French French. The agency had commissioned two translators to work on the same text into two different variants of French. While adapting the text to each country is sensible, translating the text twice into very similar variants of the same language is not the most cost-effective way to do it. Continue reading

Keeping your Text into Perspective

Contrary to common belief, the translation process is not linear. Sending documents in dribs and drabs and expecting them to be returned individually as and when they’re ready could be detrimental to the quality of the work.

I once translated a long list of independent, one- or two-sentence paragraphs for the purpose of a presentation leaflet. There was no time to ask for more background on each item, so I did 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

Keeping Up With Languages

After much thinking, deliberating, hesitating and mmm-ing, I have decided to stop offering translation from Spanish.

People who do not speak a second language struggle to understand that the knowledge of a language is not for life. Languages are living things. If you don’t look after them, they will wither away and die from your memory. Even your mother tongue can 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.

Less is More in Translation Too

Look up a word in the dictionary: depending on what you mean, you have various possible definitions. This is true for most words in all languages, and a sentence or a short paragraph is not necessarily enough to clarify what the exact meaning of a word is. This is why context is so important for translation: it is about meaning (in context) rather than words (in isolation). As a result, the shorter the text, the more time it is likely to take, proportionally speaking, and it is therefore vital that you Continue reading

Working with a Specialist

Depending on your text, there may be times when any good generalist translator can handle it. However, it is worth thinking long term. Is this just a one-off or could you need translation services again? If the latter, you obviously want to go back to the same professional next time if possible, so it may be a better idea to find a language partner who specialises in your field right from the start in case more demanding documents Continue reading