Carrying out a typical project (translators)

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Contents

Overview

This article is intended for information related to the process of carrying out a translation project, from the perspective of a translator, from the point of signing agreements related to the project, to delivery. It assumes that quoting, screening and other tasks that would lead up to a project have already been carried out.

Working agreement(s)

Many outsourcers will require the translator to sign a confidentiality agreement (also known as an "NDA" - Non-Disclosure Agreement) prior to starting work on the project. This is quite a normal practice, and, in principle, there are no objections to it. It falls within the scope of providing a professional service to assure the client, in writing, that confidentiality is taken seriously.

However, the translator should check the NDA over carefully before signing it. Outsourcers have been known, in the past, to include some strange clauses, not least based on lack of knowledge of what it should include. Translators have, in the past, even received NDAs including contractual penalty clauses intended for building contractors for signature. It is to be assumed that such clauses must have been extracted by uninformed outsourcers from documents that passed through their hands for translation.

So what should an NDA for a translator include?

Basically, it should consist of nothing more than a short, simple promise by the translator to keep all documentation from the client confidential and protect it from being seen by, or discussed with, third parties.

Starting materials

First and foremost, if it is your aim to work as a full-time freelancer translator, earning a decent living from the job, you will need to equip yourself with a good CAT tool. This will produce the following benefits:

1) benefiting from repetition after a while, by building up translation memories. Note that this will have increased effectiveness over time, the more you specialise;

2) building up your own termbases. Terminology is very important to a translator. If you have the terminology at your fingertips, you can work very rapidly.

Do not expect your productivity to be feasible for a full-time career in translation if you do not invest in a CAT tool, and also learn to use it to good effect.

Carrying out the project

Communications

Communication is of the utmost importance in the translation business, and a translator who is readily available will be in a good position to obtain repeat and regular business from clients, provided that he or she also delivers reliable quality.

The point cannot be stressed enough: a full-time translator should generally be available to respond to enquiries during all normal business hours. Translation agencies need a rapid response. If they cannot get hold of you, they will have to pass on to the next translator in the list.

Communication should generally be conducted in such a way that it is both brief and to the point. A courteous answer to an enquiry, as soon as possible after receiving it, and an immediate answer or quote (as the case may be) are all that are needed initially. In addition, you should be available during business hours in case the client wishes to contact you for any reason while you are working on the project - not least, for example, in order to cancel further work on it. The client may also wish to receive progress reports from you, especially in the case of a large project or one split between several translators, or may contact you at intervals to ask how you are getting on. You should answer such enquiries promptly and accurately.

Deliverables

Deliverables may include one or more of the following:

  • The translated text(s) (sent in "cleaned" or "uncleaned" file(s))
  • Project glossaries and/or TM's
  • Translator's notes

Additional information

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