Translate into English – What Your Customer Wants

Translate into English

One of your customers wants you to translate into English (or any other language for that matter) some documents?

Here are some tips that might be useful to many translators when accepting a job, whether for a translation agency or a direct client.

Be truthful. When in doubt, say No

If you are unsure whether you can meet a deadline or take on the project, be honest and say ‘No’ or ask for more time before accepting it. Asking for more time after the project starts will cause many problems.

Don’t Start without a Written Confirmation

If you do not have a clear written confirmation, a project number, and a work order, DO NOT start working. 

POs (work orders) include all project details such as schedule, agreed cost, list of files to translate into English and instructions. The translator should invoice only the amount included in this form, so read the PO and confirm all the details given before starting work on the project.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Customers are often happy to help as best they can, and you should always answer any questions you may have. If the Language Service provider cannot answer, they will ask the customer.

Follow the instructions, always!

Before you translate into English, always analyse customer requirements in detail. When dealing with a translation agency, the agency should have prepared a list of instructions for you. These instructions are most often included in the confirmation email, along with documentation for the project, to assist the translator during the translation process. It is essential to follow them. Otherwise, the translation agency and/or the client may need to ask you to redo the job.

Always use the Reference material provided

A good translation agency will always try to get the most reference documentation, definitions and context information from their customers. It is essential for the translator to read and understand this material before finishing the translation into English. This also shortens the completion time.

Check before you deliver

Always check your work very carefully before handing it over. A Language Service provider will likely return any work that has problems. This includes running an automatic (as well as manual) spell checker such as Antidote before delivering any work. Misspelled translations are unacceptable.

If you are a proofreader and the quality of the translation into English you need to review is poor, let the agency know before you begin. 

Always exemplify the problems. The LSP should review them and decide what to do. Also, remember that you can’t charge the agency more for the extra work unless they approve the additional cost before you start.

When you Translate into English, improve if you can

Proofreading means more than correcting purely linguistic errors. It also includes all aspects of a translation. When you translate into English and proofread your translation, you are expected to check for accuracy, spelling, grammar, style, uniformity, formatting, terminology, audience readiness, etc. Verifying means not only identifying errors or aspects that can be improved, but also correcting them directly in the translation to produce a finished text. If there is something you can translate better, change it.

Mark your changes and give feedback

It’s always nice to know what the proofreaders have changed in the translations. So, when reviewing a translation in Word, use the Track changes function, and when working in Excel, highlight the changed cell with a different background colour (you don’t need to mark each word unless you are required to do so). 

If the client needs detailed comments regarding the changes, they will ask and tell you where to make them. 

Always avoid using strikethrough, as it is laborious to finalize the text (as well as use the feature). 

Agencies often encourage proofreaders to provide feedback on translations. Do not be afraid to give your opinion!

If a change doesn’t improve the translation, don’t mess it up

Be critical when finalizing a translation after final customer proofreading. Always verify that the requested changes are correct or improve the translation before applying them. If not, do not implement the change and explain why.

Don’t be afraid to ask, but think before you do

When you translate into English , clients like it when you ask questions; it shows that you are paying attention to the project, but too silly or too misplaced questions can show that you do not know the subject or know what you are doing, and that can be a shot in the foot.

Try to Be as Professional and Objective as Possible

When giving your feedback, try to be as professional and objective as possible. Stick to the facts whenever possible with links or transcriptions of grammars, dictionaries or other references.

Improve the text if you can, but don’t split hairs to justify your job. Sometimes, the translation is really very good. In this case, praise the translator.

That’s it for now. I hope you found those tips useful and have a better idea of what customers really want when they order a translation into English from you, or any other language.  

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