Working with translators: how to help them help you

Before you start working with translators there are several things you should think about.

Have realistic expectations regarding price and deadline

Many clients contact a translator stating the price they’re willing to pay and when they need the translation. But, to quote a price and set a deadline for a translation, the translator needs to see the document to be translated first. There’s also been an increasing trend towards clients offering rates of €0.03 per word for translation and €0.01 per word for proofreading or editing which are unrealistic in many western countries. Many potential translation clients believe that it’s realistic to expect a translator to produce 10,000 words per day of complex marketing or financial text. Translation memory tools have indeed enabled translators to work faster. However, 3000 words per day is often a more realistic target when producing the quality professional translators aim for.


Working with translatorsUnderstand what you need

Knowing why you need a translator is key to making sure you get the right service. If a translation of a text about upcoming events is to be used in your in-house newsletter then a gist translation might be enough. If a translation of your annual report is to be sent to potential investors, then a polished translation that uses the correct terminology and structure in the appropriate language is required. If your hotel website needs translating to attract guests from other countries, then the translation will need to be localised, so your would-be guests feel as comfortable as possible using your site.


Provide the translator with as much information as possible before they start work

Related to this second point is that sending your translator a request stating “2000-word legal text to be translated from Spanish into English” doesn’t provide enough information. What type of document is the text: a contract, a court deposition? Who will be reading the text: lawyers, their clients, judges? Why do they need the translation: for information purposes, for legal proceedings? The answers to these questions will dictate how your text is translated and, in some cases, who translates it. If it isn’t possible for you to answer all these questions, ask your translator to look at the text and see if they can help you or if they can suggest someone who might be able to.


Following these steps while working with translators will help them to make sure their service meets your exact needs.




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