Translators ask questions

Translators ask questions, we ask lots of questions to our clients. Some may think this is a sign of insecurity, lack of experience or knowledge and that we are not professional. The reality is, when we ask our clients lots of questions it’s because we want to ensure we have all the possible information about the project, so we can provide them with the best possible service. A translator who does not ask questions is not the best, here is why.

Why we ask questions

To carry out our work in a timely and professional manner, we must collect some information from our clients. First, we must know what type of service they require, because when they say they need a translation service, that is not enough. We need to know what type of translation they need, it may be a simple article or press release or the certified translation of an official document.

Secondly, we need to know what’s the purpose of that translation and where is it intended to, because we need to know if there are any possible localisation issues and if we are the right person for that job.

Lastly, we have to ask for any reference material, glossaries, or any material that will assist us in doing our job, because we are not dictionaries and need to be properly equipped to complete our project. Sometimes, especially in more technical fields, companies have a glossary with terms they regularly used and with the translations that have been accepted by them and they want to be used throughout all their documents.

AUSIT Code of Ethics

The AUSIT Code of Conduct also sets that, as translators, we must obtain all necessary information in regards to the project. This includes the purpose of the translation and all reference material. In fact, AUSIT also says that if the client does not provide such material, the translator will not be responsible for any inadequacies that may incur from the lack of such material.

T1 Before commencing work, translators ascertain the intended purpose of the translation and the form of delivery required.

T2 Translators obtain from the client as much information, terminology or reference material as possible and necessary for the proper and timely execution of the translation commission, and treat such material confidentially or as expressly agreed. If the client possesses but fails to provide reference texts crucial to the desired outcome, the translator is not responsible for inadequacies in the translation that are demonstrably due to such aids being withheld.  – AUSIT Code of Ethics

Why we need it?

We are translators, not dictionaries. There may be some words we are not familiar with and if we don’t have a reference we will need to research and that will take us time. A professional translator may take more than half-an-hour researching for a term. I good translator will never settle for the first option. If we have doubts we will research because we want to make sure our job is done properly. If the client already has the answer we need, it will take us less time to deliver the job. Another aspect of it is the technical fields that may have their jargons. Frequently companies have their glossaries where they insert all their technical words and the translations they want to be used in all their documents. This way, they will get what they want and we will provide a great service. It is a win for everyone.