How to be a VIC (III): Send your Documents as Editable Files

To keep your translator happy and be one of their VICs (very important clients), it is best to send editable versions of your documents so that they can focus on the content without spending time and effort on recreating the formatting.

Most of us only have one screen on our desk. Working on a non-editable file means having two documents on one screen: the source text and the target one side by side. This makes it hard to Continue reading

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How to be a VIC (II): Does Your Text Make Sense?

This second post on how to be a VIC (very important client) addresses the quality of your texts. Vague (generic words, clichés, lengthy sentences) or poorly written (incorrect grammar/punctuation, etc.) documents are confusing and hair-pulling sessions slow your translator down. We love our work and we do like a challenge, but we’re not so keen on headaches. Painful translations do not get priority.

If no one Continue reading

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

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

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

Translating Beauties and Beasts

It would seem fair to assume that a translation can only be as good as the original, and there is truth in that. However, a good translator needs to be a good writer too, with the ability to spruce the text up a little if need be.

The Beast

The least polished text I have worked on was a rough draft put together by a non-native English speaker whose English was barely understandable, with Continue reading