When it Comes to Translation, the Customer is Often Wrong

Yes, you read that right. I’ve been in the business of translation for nearly 20 years, and long enough to understand that clients sometimes misunderstand our field.

The main contention between clients and their translation providers arises over accuracy of translation. Over the years, clients have come back to us with “Your translation is wrong!” Then they tell us that they have internals who checked our translation and pointed out a variety of errors.

In the first few years of running APlus Translations, such a comment would rattle me to the core. I was so conscious of delivering top quality that if we came up short, it was extremely worrisome for me. But with years of experience, I have learned that more often than not, in such a case, clients – and their internals – are simply wrong and our translation is perfectly correct as is.

So, if you are a client who pays for translations to an agency, and one of your internals tells you that you’ve got a lemon of a supplier, please consider the following:

Firstly, a translation agency works with PROFESSIONALS who have studied their language through and through. Language translation is their daily bread. Which is likely not the case of your internal employee who critiqued the professional’s work.

As well, a translation agency usually employs at least two pairs of qualified eyes to review their work. There is often back and forth between a translator and the editor whom the agency employs to ensure they come up with the best choice for your translation.

And in any language, there are more than one ways of expressing the same thing. Translation is not an exact science. And so, it is quite possible that both the agency’s version and your internal’s are right!

And finally, given the opportunity, as human beings, we like to critique others’ work to validate ourselves. So that when you internal employee wants to rewrite the text the agency delivered to you, ask yourself whether  they are truly more qualified to do so, or whether they just want to attract some spotlight to themselves!

I am not saying that you should not query the translation with the provider. But please don’t assume they did a poor job without a proper investigation.

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