Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The joy of going deeper ...

Recently, I was approached by a client, who asked me to do what turned out to be one of the shortest but simultaneously one of the most challenging translations I have done this year. As you may recall, translators charge for their work on a per word basis, so given the amount of hours I had to spend on these 4 (yes only four) sentences, this project quite clearly did not appear as a lucrative one. Normally, one would ask: what's the point of taking it on?
Well, there is a point, and a very strong one as professional translators simply love a bit of a challenge, a battle with a text which we know we will win (well...eventually), especially when we can engross in the quirks and tricks of the language or explore an area we had only a slight idea about. Surprised? You did not consider a translator an explorer but rather a walking dictionary, did you.

With more challenging texts, it is not about looking terms up in a dictionary; they may give you a seemingly correct equivalent, but how do you know whether it is right in this context or collocation? I never fully rely on dictionaries, not that I don't trust them but for the above-mentioned reason, I have to explore and do some RESEARCH.
Research is a crucial phase in the process of translation, and I have to say that this is my favourite part as it allows me to constantly LEARN an enormous amount of knowledge. Each time something new, each time something fascinating: one day we are experts in rig drilling and the next in cardiology.
Only professional translators appreciate the significance of the research phase and are aware of its effect on the final product. We are ready to spend an hour reading about spine anatomy just to find out whether a vertebral end-plate is the same thing as a vertebral body edge. We do not consider it a waste of time, moaning that during the past hour we earned a mere 15p and translated one word, on the contrary, we are aware that this is an inevitable part of the process, which will produce a high quality translation. Moreover, learning through this research will facilitate our future translation in the same area of specialisation and considerably contribute to our continuous self-development.
Given the amount of time and effort a good translator is ready to sacrifice in order to provide an adequate translation, you should expect that the price will inevitably reflect this. Yes, it may cost, yes it might take longer than a day to finally receive the text, but only then will you be SURE that the translation is of high quality and that the translator dug really deep to achieve it.

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