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Look before you leap!


There have been a few times that I wished I could have turned the clock back before I hit the Send button in Outlook or the Upload button on the agency platform. Alas, what's done is done.


But your foibles needn't rear up and sabotage your work and reputation. Here are some things I think you would benefit from doing:


  • Never translate something on a hunch if you can avoid it. Acronyms can be your worst enemy. If you see something like AC and you blindly put CA, you could be in for a rude awakening. It's like signing a blank check. Of course, there are times when it just can't be avoided and you have to venture your best guess.

  • Consistency, consistency, consistency. It is easy to slip up and translate a term one way and then in the middle of the job, and then decide it should be translated another way. After all, there are so many terms in the source language that could be translated different ways. Sometimes, both ways sound good and are valid. Other times, there are words like seguridad in Spanish, that could be translated as either safety or security. In addition, agencies might provide you with a glossary that lists several translations for one term, or conversely, a translation that is not appropriate for a certain text. Just today, I was translating a medical document that included both vesícula and vejiga. The former means gallblader and the latter bladder. However, the glossary listed gallbladder as the translation for vejiga, which it is in some cases, but since vesícula was already present, and I knew that vejiga was indeed bladder from context. I did write a note in Wordfast Pro to alert this situation. (It's always good to cover your back and at the same time be helpful).

  • Don't do certain things in your head. Remember in Math class when the teacher said you had to "show your work" and you were graded on it too? Boy, did I hate that. Well, when it comes to certain items, like converting Roman numerals to Arabic numerals, i.e. XXXIV to 34, it doesn't hurt to check online. Heck, you can just say "Hey, Google" and ask between sips of coffee. Dates are a bear too, especially because there are so many formats that agencies require, not to mention the formats used in each country. You will typically run into the US format which is mm/dd/yyyy or 12/21/1956. The European format, and in most Latin American countries is dd/mm/yyyy or 21/12/1956. If you like fiddling with Excel, you could set it up to convert dates for you. Another way would be just to add the different pairs of dates in your CAT glossary. Speaking of math, I had a geometry teacher who always said "There are many ways to downtown." So, feel free to devise your own method. Whatever works.

  • Never pass up a QA check and a Spell check. As far as I know, most or all CAT tools these days come with a QA check. They typically check for terminology, number, punctuation consistencies as well as source text in the target segment and empty target segments which is a big no-no. You really don't want to deliver a translation without first checking spelling, even if your spelling is impeccable. Even if you are close to the wire and don't want to deliver late. Just tell the PM that you will be sending the document a few minutes later explaining why. If you make any edits, check spelling again just in case. You will also want to read the text again, even if it is a quick skim. There are always words like sing and singe, can't and cant, all bona fide words but not all fitting the context.

Once you get a generally feeling that your translation is fit for the client, send it off!


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