The Boomerang Effect

Multiple problems with an exhibition catalogue I translated earlier this year led to major delays, and the scheduled 6 weeks turned to 6 months. When the publisher emailed the team about the issues this was causing, the leading author of the project sent a dismissive reply, which only highlighted his lack of awareness, preparation and commitment, not to mention his denial of accountability. Such an attitude is not without repercussions.

Continue reading “The Boomerang Effect”

Set it in Stone

It should go without saying that the texts you send to a translator must be absolutely final. At this stage, this is no longer work in progress. From a translator’s point of view, you could do little worse than updating them after they have started working on them.

Continue reading “Set it in Stone”

Think Glossary First!

When writing for experts, jargon needs no explanations. But if you write for a mixed audience (e.g. for the general public as well as potential scholars researching your topic), you need to adjust your content and style as well as strike a balance between detailed and approachable information. Space permitting, a glossary may be a smart addition, for your audience as well as for your translator.

Continue reading “Think Glossary First!”

Clear Thinking for Clear Writing

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.

Such documents Continue reading “Clear Thinking for Clear Writing”

Updating Your Website? Do Your Prep!

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 “Updating Your Website? Do Your Prep!”

Need Your Website Translated? Do Your Prep!

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 “Need Your Website Translated? Do Your Prep!”

Are You Ready?

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 “Are You Ready?”

The Added Value of a Specialist

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 “The Added Value of a Specialist”

Translating Chinese Whispers

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 “Translating Chinese Whispers”

Tim-Burtonesque Project

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 “Tim-Burtonesque Project”

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