Educating Clients Prevents Post-Translation Problems

As translation providers, we all know the importance of listening to our clients to make sure we are serving their best interests, but many companies leave out the vital step of educating clients about the translation industry and how our industry dynamics have an effect on their requests.

Clients often come to us with little or no information about the process involved in translating their projects. They may not understand the nuances of regional dialects, or the differences between a Spanish European and a Spanish Latin American translation. As the subject matter experts, we must bring these issues to the forefront to prevent problems or confusion after the project is completed. Not doing so, can result in the client realizing the particular translation they requested does not fit their needs.

Even though we ensure all clients that a translator and a separate editor have reviewed the project before delivery, many clients will still have an outside resource review the final project as well. Inevitably, the outside resource finds several “problems” with the translation, resulting in an unhappy client who assumes the project we delivered was full of mistakes.

In most cases, the changes found by an outside resource are strictly preferential changes. When someone is asked to review any written document for mistakes, there is an inherent, and often unconscious, need to find improvements. Native speakers are typically extremely prideful about the correctness of their language, but may not be trained linguists, or subject matter experts in the content translated.

It is very important to explain to all clients prior to beginning a project that translation is an art, as well as a skill, and there is a subjective element to every translation. Explaining this fact at the outset, gives clients a framework of understanding, and they are far less likely to assume preferential changes are mistakes.

Jacqueline Galofaro, Epic Translations Project Manager

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