Forum for Translators: The Importance of Translating a Safety Manual
Translation of a safety manual can be a dream job or a nightmare, what do you think?
It is a dream job when it is recurring every year or so, as we all know that recurring business is what allows us to do any planning. This said, if it is very long, it has to be * with a very long time delay, which means a long time working without any money coming is - very few will advance funds before completion; * divided with trustworthy colleagues (if you have some who are also patient for the payment), and you will have to revise the end result (at no extra cost) to ensure the uniformity of style. So these are very important factors to consider before jumping with joy at the prospect of having this unique opportunity. So ideally, it should be a manual you are sure to be able to tackle by yourself within the delay given to complete it. Then again, there are very few dream jobs...
Also, another important factor is your relationship with the customer offering you this work, and well established working terms. I've lived through the nightmare of a customer who wanted to get every chapter individually, not understanding that it is then next to impossible to ensure the cohesion of the manual, as we all bring modifications and make corrections along the way. Also, this customer was passing along each of the chapters around in the office/company to gather comments, line by line - that is what made it a nightmare. It wasn't just to signify a preference for certain terms, but to modify the lines according to the comments of each reader, each person being skilled or not at technical writing. You can imagine the patchwork result. So I had to justify each of the choices that I considered best, and go back and change all the rest, all while having to show significant progress in the translation work itself on the following chapters. So this is something that should be clear from the beginning - I paid to learn.
Finally, the payment terms should be clear. Make sure to check any new client company's background before starting the work so you don't end up working a long time with nothing to show for it. This too I learned the hard way.
Did I leave anything out?
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