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. Continue reading
If you have a tight budget, it may seem like an idea to do the bulk of the translation yourself and then pass it on to a professional translator who will quickly fix it for you, doesn’t it? Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth! This really is a false economy. In fact, Continue reading
I recently received one of those comedy requests: a British translation agency contacted me at 5.15pm for an urgent translation: 700 German words for 11am the next day into English – or was it into French as the email subject said? At any rate, the translation had to be done by a “sworn translator recognised by the French authorities”.
When I introduce my services to potential clients, some of them occasionally ask “what are your rates?”. This is a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string kind of question, a sure sign that the person does not understand how translation works and that they could easily fall into the trap of going for the cheapest – but by no means the best – provider as a result.
Translation is not a box-standard product, nor is it a matter of Continue reading
While translators are used to working anonymously in most cases, they are always grateful when their name is mentioned. It’s a rare bonus for professionals whose work is typically invisible. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for their contribution – even if it’s only in the small prints that hardly a soul will bother to read.
So when I noticed that my name was missing from a book that I had recently translated, Continue reading
Although checking the facts in your text is beyond the translator’s remit, hiring a linguist who has a certain level of expertise in your particular field could save you from the embarrassment of oversights.
Of course, a translator will focus on the language first; the content is down to you and, if there are mistakes in the source document, the translator cannot be expected to spot them all, if any. It is your responsibility to ensure that the text is accurate and ready for publication. But we’re all human and, despite your diligence, translators Continue reading
We all know the hackneyed expression “lost in translation”. Yet, some seem to expect translation to work like an exact science.
I was recently working on an exhibition catalogue and one of the texts, written by a German artist, had been translated into English for me to translate into French. Not having been offered to see the German text, and my German being limited anyway, I had to Continue reading
If your translation project consists of multiple small documents, it may make sense to you to send these small pieces as they are to your translator, but bear in mind that it will take longer and incur a project management fee.
As we all know, switching between tasks increases the time it takes to complete them all. Consequently, Continue reading
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
On a translators’ forum, a colleague recently expressed some doubt about his own rates and the respect we as translators get from clients, after an agency told him that his rates were too high. The response from the group was unanimous: stick to your guns. His rates were fine, if a little low in fact.
In translation as in life, there are bullies and pushovers, and then there are those who Continue reading
It sometimes takes more than translation for a project to be understood abroad. Understanding your reader’s culture is equally important. A translator may be able to make you aware of cultural issues in your text, but your marketing team needs to do its homework too.
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is an excellent illustration of cultural misunderstanding. Skeleton Jack, from the Halloween world, accidentally discovers the Christmas world and Continue reading
Just like being able to speak English is not enough to be the next Oscar Wilde, not every job that involves a foreign language can be allocated to a translator. There are times when a translator is the wrong person for the job.
To come up with a snappy slogan or a memorable acronym, you have probably delegated the task to a skilled person within your marketing department or even hired a professional copywriter. Many translators can Continue reading