Can You Really Appreciate A Good Translation?

Translating an article, video script, ad or marketing piece can be challenging. Translators can confuse terms or fall into the trap of faux-amis. A proofreader can come in to try and save the day and a copy editor might enhance style, taking into account the intended the audience. The client gets to see the final version, signs off on it, signs a check, et voilà.

But… What happens with appreciating the whole act behind the curtains? Is there any additional value that should be attributed to it?

Translators are often egoless and more often creditless, even though they do deserve some credit.

A client recently complained about our offer to proofread our own work with a separate pair of eyes. She said the translation should be spotless if the translator had done a good job. Translators usually do a good job, but they are confined by their own limitations; it’s human nature, which simply means that catching their own mistakes is often off limits.

The translation was delivered, and quite naturally, there were mistakes here and there that would’ve been caught by a professional proofreader, and the client made comments about those mistakes being made, even though we had warned them about the possibility of this happening.

We fixed the errors and the translation came out really nice. We were hired again by this client, but we never received any comments on the new quality of the translation, and have never receiving good feedback on other error-free translations.

So this has left me wondering: Why do we often value criticizing, even if it is constructively, over congratulating a job well done? Food for thought. Please leave your comments below. I’d love to know what you think.

Written by Bryan Lattke
Bryan Lattke is a professional translator, editor, market strategist, techie and serial entrepreneur who has a knack for travel, writing, and networking. Since 2003 he has been the Chief Creative Director of Trustlations, Inc. | Trustlations.com, overseeing translation, proofreading, copy editing, and DTP services for clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies.