At this time or another, in the life of any translator, there comes the moment when your own capacity is not enough and you just have to split the job among several colleagues. This may happen for a number of reasons: you received a big job from your regular client who relies on your quality, whose theme you know inside out and who needs the translation almost immediately (in Ukrainian in this case we say that the deadline for translation is yesterday); this may be a new client, who again relies on your track record and explicitly asks you to take a bigger file at your responsibility; or this may be your conscious decision to find your alter ego translator colleague, who might give you a hand in rush times.
Whatever the reason, there are several things you might be willing to consider. First and foremost, you should yourself assume the responsibility for the project. You have to visualize the project at its various stages and try and prevent things from happening. Because things do start happening, if you do not realize the responsibility.
Initial instructions are number one. We may sometimes think that these are simple things, presumably known by everyone in translation world. Even if they are known, they will be understood and performed slightly differently by everyone. And in the end, you will be the one to clear up the confusion, if not the mess. Here, we may refer things like translation of stamps and seals, signatures and handwritten insertions. The choices may be as follows. For stamps: to insert a blank square/circle or not, to write ‘Official round seal’, ‘Official seal’ or just ‘Seal’; to insert these words in square brackets, round brackets or to highlight them. For signatures: to write ‘Signature: signature illegible’, just ‘Signature’ or, in cases it is legible, to transliterate it. These are simple things, but if you have 50 one-page notary certified documents with 5 or more seals and stamps in each, and you distribute them among 10 colleagues, this may become an issue as you start collecting them. For each order, these issues will differ. Thus, before subcontracting, scan all of them for potential issues and write a general instruction to all participants.
Technical instructions may not be directly related to translation. For example, if the original document is in a pdf format, and it is a bigger document, ask colleagues not to use pdf-converter, because it will be very difficult to bring different parts back into one piece, for the reason that such converted files are tough to copy-paste. Simply ask to open clean file and translate afresh, however tempting the first option may be. If you absolutely need to write over converted pdf files because, for example, there are embedded pictures and tables, get ready to spend huge amount of time to editing issues after the actual translation is done and you have to put pieces together. Plan for that in terms of the time resource.
Another helpful thing is glossary. It is generally believed that synonyms enrich the language. I agree, but from the point of view of translation manager, they are thing number one to remember. I think I will write more about the topic of synonyms in translation one of these days, as this is a really challenging issue. Now, I would only like to mention synonyms from the point of view of translation project manager. It is better, and in fact very much desirable, to browse through the document or entire project you are going to share with colleagues, and to compile a through glossary. It will save you the effort of correcting and polishing various equivalents in the end, and sometimes even rewriting whole passages. Many colleagues would use different synonyms, some would leave the terms highlighted, and some would ask you. Browsing through the documents ahead gives you several advantages, among which is anticipating questions. Sometimes it would be a good idea to send your preliminary elaborated glossary to the client for approval, particularly if this is a direct client, willing to cooperate, not an agency; if you were asked to be the last resort (no proofreader or editor will work on your submitted texts); and if the project is not too big. In the latter case any prudent client will hire a proofreader or an editor, or both to ensure consistency among all documents in a project.
These are just several issues that came to mind recently, and that I think are worth considering. I would appreciate feedback from the readers of these humble ideas. And what issues did you encounter in similar cases? Thanks for reading and hopefully talk to you soon!