Translation is not a hard science. There is no single result to your linguistic equation, and while accuracy will always remain one of our primary concerns, the richness of each language allows for a great deal of flexibility. This also means that sometimes, our clients wish to send us corrections.
We always welcome feedback and will take your preferences into account, but you can also count on us to deliver linguistic expertise during all phases of your project, including at revision stage. How do we approach client corrections? Which ones do we systematically implement, and which ones do we advise the client not to make? Let’s take a look at various examples.
There are several ways you can send us feedback. If you wish to have very specific sentences corrected, then we need to see exactly which ones, and how you’d want them changed.
- Is the file we delivered to you a Microsoft Word document? You can send us a version with Track Changes enabled
- Is it an Excel file? Simply add a column next to the translation and type in your suggestion
- Is it a PDF? Highlight the text and add a comment for maximum clarity and efficiency
The clearer your corrections, the faster we’ll be able to deliver the definitive version back to you.
Here’s an example of a French translation created for the purpose of this article, followed by potential corrections from the client:
Not all corrections here are useful. Actually, most are not, but they’re suggestions we’ve had to deal with numerous times in the past.
Providing us with a glossary (or tasking us with creating one for you) can make everybody’s life easier when it comes to terminology. Still, glossaries rarely encapsulate every single term that is going to appear in your texts, so it might happen that we have to make a call and choose a translation for a term that pops up for the first time.
In the example above, the terms ‘calibration’ and ‘encryption’ had never been translated for this account before. The linguists decided to go for ‘étalonnage’ and ‘chiffrement’, respectively. The client’s changes replace those words with ‘calibration’ and ‘cryptage’. Though ‘étalonnage’ is the standard translation, we’ve seen many clients preferring the term ‘calibration’ in French, even though it doesn’t have the exact same meaning (‘calibrage’ would be more accurate in this case). We’ll explain this to the customer and try to keep ‘étalonnage’ for accuracy purposes. The change from ‘chiffrement’ to ‘cryptage’, however, is preferential but perfectly acceptable. In this context, they’re synonyms, so we’ll use the one you prefer.
A good translator knows that punctuation rules differ from one languages to the next. What goes in English doesn’t necessarily go in French, German, or Japanese. Sometimes, punctuation is changed in the target to make things more fluent. Here, the first two source sentences were combined into one in French, and commas were replaced with brackets to list the features. French can usually sustain long sentences better than English, and a sequence of short ones could seem unnatural to a French audience. In addition, the client’s suggestion implies using multiple articles (le, la l’) in rapid succession, which can quickly become tiresome to read. We would advise the client to retain the linguist’s proposed translation as far as punctuation goes, in order to make the text as fluent as possible.
You might have noticed that in the example above, the linguists chose to translate ‘solution’ as such first, but then went for another word (‘système’). Naturally, the client’s reviewer noticed it and asked for it to be rectified. However, this was done on purpose, because the French language is not as accommodating as the English one when it comes to repetitions. The source sentence contains the word ‘solution’ twice, which should be avoided whenever possible in French, hence the use of ‘système’ for the second occurrence.
You might also have noticed that two phrases were omitted from the translation. ‘You can rest assured’ in the second to last sentence would only make the target unnecessarily long (the reader gets the same meaning without this emphatic expression). Finally, the last sentence was entirely removed from the French, which might seem strange, but was again done on purpose because saying once more that the camera is ‘ideal’ and for ‘indoor’ use would seem repetitive and inelegant in the target language.
At the end of the day, the client is king. If you absolutely want something changed, it will be done, but our translators are eager to provide linguistic expertise throughout the whole project life-cycle.
Document Translation is one of our areas of specialization.
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