How To Make Your Foreign Language Translator Like You
While the Internet is flooded with articles about services a foreign language translator can offer and the importance of these services, finding information about what it takes to succeed as a translation client is more difficult.
Having good translators available is essential for successful communication with those who do not speak your mother tongue, whether you write a letter to a foreign relative or prepare a financial report for foreign markets.
What do foreign language translators expect from a translation client?
I've been working in the translation business for more than 20 years in different capacities, both for translation companies and direct clients. And I know that translators will give their best if you treat them right. So what do they expect and how to treat them right?
- Prepare clear instructions for the translator. Explain what you want. Furthermore, if you have a terminology list or some reference material, be sure to send them to the translator.
- Answer the translator's questions. Perhaps, nobody else will read your document more thoroughly than your translator. The translator can notice inconsistencies, mistakes, vague and unclear language in your document and may have respective questions. It is in your best interest to answer these questions, and to answer them promptly.
- Do not make it a rule to send jobs to the translator on Friday evenings, if they are due on Monday. Once I had a regular client. Reliable and high-paying. When they started sending me jobs on weekends, I did the jobs in the interest of preserving a good working relationship. But when those weekend jobs became a regular occurrence, I had to stop our cooperation. As any other professionals, translators have a private life and families. Job is important. But life expands beyond it.
- Remember what you say. If you expected to send your documents for translation on a certain day and didn't do so, notify the translator. Should you change your plans, cancel or postpone the translation, inform the translator accordingly. Translators usually work for several clients. They may be able to take on another translation project if yours will not show up in time.
- Don't impose impossible deadlines. Translation takes time. To give you a very rough idea about foreign language translators' daily output, it takes one working day to translate 2,000 words. If you want 4,000 or more words translated within one day, expect the translation to be inferior in quality. In addition, your translator will work under stress and will be far less willing to accept work from you in the future.
- Do not send drafts for translation. Finalize your document at first and then send it for translation. Foreign language translators hate having to modify their translations constantly because of work in progress. If it is really necessary to introduce some changes to the document, do it in the track-changes mode in MS Word so that the translator can see what you've changed.
- Translating a PDF document takes longer and costs more. PDF is a popular file format, but it represents certain problems to translators. It is time-consuming to prepare translation quotes for PDF files because these files have to be converted to a Word format in order to determine a word count. Moreover, translating from a PDF source involves extra formatting work. As a result, some translators apply a surcharge for working from PDF and hardcopy documents. Translators will be able to offer you a better price if you supply them with a Word document.
- Avoid splitting the translation. If you send a 10,000-word document to a translation company today and want the translation to be ready tomorrow, the translation company will inevitably split the job between different translators to meet your deadline. When several translators work on a project with a tight deadline, it is almost impossible to guarantee consistency in the usage of terms and uniformity in the style. So do not complain later about inconsistent terminology, register and style.
- Don't forget to share your positive feedback. If you are satisfied with the quality of the translation, come back with this good news. It will make happy your translator and she or he will work even better. (Actually, any feedback is welcomed and appreciated as it gives the translator the opportunity to learn from possible drawbacks).
- Make sure you pay on time and as agreed. If you expect payment delays, let your translators know before they find out the hard way. If you have built a good working relationship, your translators can be depended on to turn up trumps in a crisis. Be honest and ethical and your translator will not disappear the next time you need a translation.
Do you know what is worse than payment delays? Non-payments! Biblical wisdom says, "do as you would be done by." So, again, be honest and ethical. What would be your reaction if you weren’t paid for your job? Nobody is happy to work for free. Foreign language translators are not the exception. Pay for translation jobs.
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