Ten Ways to Make Sure You Get a Really Bad Translation (for corporate entities outsourcing translations in any language combination)
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plan in advance what to translate or when.
Why save time and stress when you can do things
the hard way? Put some zest in your life! Improvise!
bother to test translation suppliers. Instead
use quick, foolproof recruitment techniques,
- consulting a non-linguist buddy
or well-intentioned superior (you could even employ
his cousin's wife, since she studied languages
in school). Back-scratching guarantees a truly
imaginative rendering of your annual report or
state-of-the art computer code.
- giving preference to sympathetic
companies or freelance translators who can meet
impossible deadlines at bargain prices. You can
double your profits by replacing costly local
translators with emerging economy linguists, regardless
of mother tongue.
- Once you've
"selected" a supplier, keep him! And don't
worry about his work ethic. So what if
he has staggering staff turnover and forgets to
pay his subcontractors? Translation is just a question
of opening a dictionary or, these days, a CAT tool.
Again, there is no shortage of hungry job hunters
- If overseas
subsidiaries complain about your translated copy,
ignore them. They probably don't know their
own languages. Above all, watch out! They may
be secretly trying to wrench power away from you...
- Do not
give your supplier background documents.
Providing him with in-house lexicons, hard-to-find
scientific articles or previous translations is
counterproductive. He should be using all his
energy to look up the same terms his predecessors
did: raw vocabulary, not subject knowledge,
is the key to good translation.
- Keep your
translator in the dark about what his work is for.
If he yearns to enhance your message by adapting
the target language to specific markets or cultures,
he may also want to be treated like a partner.
Protect him, for his own sake, from unhealthy delusions
suppliers who specialize in your field.
Such people are too conscious of their own
limits (and yours?). This dangerous state of
mind may lead them to constantly suggest ways of
perfecting your translation process! Prefer less
experienced linguists unlikely to interfere in your
isolation. One infallible method is to impose
a harassed secretary or closed-minded agency manager
at the translator-to-document author interface.
Who wants to clarify minute points of detail? Ambiguity
adds spice to dull technical reports.
- Let your
in-house staff criticize and change translated texts
without consulting the supplier. These same
persons are also ideal candidates for compiling
glossaries with terms in languages other than their
own. An approach that will lend an exotic touch
to your corporate literature.
possible, entrust translation management to monolinguals
with limited communication skills (e.g. purchasers).
This will discourage unwanted translator initiatives
and leave your hands free to get on with some real
work. Language issues are kid stuff, right?
If you faithfully follow the advice
given above, you will certainly achieve the translation
quality you deserve!
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