Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Pro Translator's Checklist, Part 2

This is the second part of the (grossly oversimplified) list of DO's and DON'T's that should always be followed by a professional translator when taking on a project, and through his or her day-to-day dealings.

As previously stated, some of these may seem quite obvious –even for a beginner – but many translators seem to neglect many of them on a regular basis (and then wonder, “Why haven't I been getting any work in recently?!”). Don't let that happen to you – read and follow these points as much as possible.

1. DON'T assume that a new client has previous experience using or working with translation services and translators, and don't assume that they don't, either. You just may find yourself been perceived as condescending - or conversely, green and amateur – due to the way you over/underuse certain terms or discuss types of software, etc.

2. DON'T respond to a request for services with laments about how swamped you are with work, or how tight your schedule is with other projects. You might be able to show a client just how in-demand you are, but you are also likely to make them think twice about requesting your services again. If it's absolutely, positively impossible for you to accept a project, thank the potential client for their consideration and drop them a note when your workload lightens up.

3. DON'T assume that you already know everything there is to know about your own language pairs or specialties. Translation is the type of profession in which you can (and should) continue to learn and grow, as long as you stay open-minded.

4. DON'T make excuses for your rate - remember: you are a professional, offering a professional service. Do the necessary research in order to make sure that your rates are within industry standards.

5. DON'T provide a final quote without first checking the *entirety* of the source text. You could end up screwing yourself over majorly.

6. DON'T neglect to ask a client for a style preference or style sheet on especially long or continuing projects. Although the client may be responsible for providing you with these materials, you should always ask to be sure they haven't forgotten.

7. DON'T put off checking the source text of a new project. At the very least, go through it qucikly as soon as possible, even if you are in the middle of working on a different project.

8. DON'T wait till the last minute to make requests to the client, such as “May I have a more legible copy?” or “Could you send some sort of reference materials?” These things may take time - or may be downright impossible – and if that's the case, then you need to know this as early as possible.

9. DON'T assume that your client has examined the source text as thoroughly and carefully as you do – or even at all. You may find that some text already exists in the target language, which is good news; or you may find that there is more text in a third language, which can change things drastically.

10. DON'T forget that human translation is an organic product. Keep an open mind when it comes to having completed translations reviewed, be ready to admit when you've made a mistake, and be ready to defend yourself with concrete resources – don't try to deflect criticism or complaints with “I've been doing this for a long time”... There's always the chance that you've have been doing it the wrong way for a long time.

And thus completes the second half of the Pro Translator's Checklist. We are always open to fresh views and opinions regarding this work, so please don't hesitate to comment any additions, amendments, or criticisms you may have.