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Translators’ tips for employers

Watch this short video, where you will hear from three professional translators describing how to spot a good translator.
Text on screen: What should clients do to make sure that they engage a good translator? Well, I’d asked them about being a member of a professional organization, definitely. I’d ask them about their years of experience. I’d get somebody who did speak the language of the target text fluently and that they’re trusted. And I’d ask them to evaluate a sample, I think.
Text on screen: What can clients do to help the translator produce the best possible translation? In order to make the most of translators and interpreters, clients need to understand that it’s not a quick process. I think, perhaps, with machine translation, such as Google Translate and these online translators, people have an idea that it’s a very instantaneous thing and that it’s very much only language based, whereas there is a lot of culture and a lot of research that goes behind the work of translators. So I think patience and understanding that it takes time is definitely crucial, and again, the importance of purpose.
I think if they want to have an efficient translator and a good translation, they need to give a brief outline as to why the text is being translated and then give the translator ample time to produce it. So one thing that I’ve heard mentioned already is allow enough time to get a translation done well. It shouldn’t be a speed test.
If you want a high quality text, and you put a lot of time into writing it in German, for example, then allow enough time for a translator to do the job properly in English, because it will be a lot less stressful for everyone involved and the end result will be better. Secondly, allow time for questions and dialogue.
Not everything that is obvious from the original text will be obvious to a translator– for example, sometimes because the languages have different grammar. When you write in English, you might have to say something that’s more specific than the original text, so you need to know more information than is there. So the questions you get might be quite unusual. You might not understand why the translator is asking them, but there is a good reason. And it’s really helpful if the client can answer them and allow time to answer them. It takes longer than they think it’s going to take.
The deadline tomorrow morning is not necessarily– and when they finish an email with, have a nice evening, when clearly you’re going to spend the evening doing their translation.
It’s fine. I enjoy my job, but yeah, not all night, not every night.

In this short video, you will hear the different views of three professional translators describing how to spot a good translator.

As you listen, think if you agree with their explanations of the most important skills possessed by translators.

More generally, do you think there is correspondence between what translators think is important and what the general public (and in particular clients) think is important?

We refer back to the mismatch between clients’ and translators’ perspectives in the following section.

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Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

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