Life as a freelance translator

That’s the way to do it

Yesterday a client had questions about a translation. Normally an agency coming back with questions from the client results in a feeling of horrendous dread, especially when the e-mail is accompanied by a file in which the end client has completely rewritten the entire thing in a strange version of English which is entirely their own. This time it was different.

1. The agency e-mailed to say the author (it was a non-fiction book) had some questions and would like to discuss them with me over the phone because she thought that would be easier than sending me a file. The agency agreed and wanted to check I was OK with that.

2. I said that was fine with me and gave times between which it would be OK for her to phone.

Bonus points to the author for realising that her changing the text and adding comments, sending it to me, me taking her changes out again and adding more comments, sending it back again, ad infinitum might not be the best use of our time.

Bonus points to the agency for asking me first rather than giving the author my phone number and landing me with a phone call from Sweden out of the blue. Also for not refusing any contact between translator and author for fear I would steal their client.

3. Friendly author phoned up, asked if it was a good time to call, and we went through the text together. The questions were mainly along the lines of  “I don’t understand the word you used there and this book will be read by non-native English speakers so can we change it to something simpler?” “this person wants to be a project leader rather than a project manager, is that OK?” “Can we make this heading shorter?” “Why have you called this organisation by this name that isn’t anything like the Swedish? (answer: because they use it on their website but do ask them yourself if you like).

Bonus points for sensible, valid questions asked in a friendly spirit of collaboration. Unlike some I could mention, not “correcting” my grammar, replacing every occurrence of “which” with “that” or trying to gain status in the company by proving they know English better than the translator does.

Why can’t it always be like this? Please?

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