After working on several texts of varying quality for an exhibition catalogue recently, I was not surprised that one of them came back with revisions for translation updates. The text read as if the art critic was trying to express concepts that he had not fully thought over, and was fumbling for words, resulting in strange choices of words, unnecessarily long sentences, syntax going off the rails, to say nothing of stray words and typos.
English is often assumed to be an “international language” (whether there is such a thing is a topic for another day). As a result, some English words have become everyday terms in some non-English-speaking countries, not least in the business environment, with many users having no real knowledge of what the words actually mean and dangerously assuming that this is how English speakers talk.
There are no shortcuts in translation: changing a few words here and there in your original text does not mean that the translator will only have a few words to change – far from it! The whole sentence or even paragraph will have to be reviewed. However, there are ways you can help to make the process easier, faster and cheaper.
After the content of your website is initially translated, it’s a good idea to Continue reading →
Sending a link to your website for a translation quotation may seem like the quickest and easiest way for you, but a translator will only be able to give you a rough “guesstimation” from that.
Presumably, the text content of your website were originally prepared in MS Word (and possibly Excel) before being communicated to your webmaster. Similarly, your translator needs the full and exact texts in Word (and/or Excel) so that they Continue reading →
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.
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 →