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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
Some translators are not so keen on working with direct clients (as opposed to agencies) partly because clients are not always familiar with the translation process. For me, working with direct clients is far more rewarding, and it is an opportunity to help people better understand, and therefore appreciate, what we do rather than see translation as a mere commodity (a view largely reinforced by most agencies).
I have recently started to work on an ongoing multilingual project (an online art-collection management tool) which is proving a challenge for everyone in the team due, amongst other things, to the end client’s lack of experience with translation projects.
As an online tool, the platform only has occasional sentences in isolation, the bulk of the work consisting of section of field headings, i.e. short stand-alone strings of words, or even Continue reading →
Who your readers are is a major factor for the form and content of any text. Are you addressing an expert readership on a specialist topic, or designing a marketing campaign for a particular section of the population? Is your audience local or international?
A client recently asked for a job to be done urgently. Since ‘urgent’ means little without a specific date, I asked what the deadline was. There was no deadline. There is a different between need and want. By saying it’s urgent, you are putting the translator under time pressure, and as with any kind of work, any unpleasant condition must Continue reading →