Thread poster: Claire Titchmarsh (X)

Claire Titchmarsh (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Mar 20, 2006

I'm just curious to know why it is that clients rarely give you any pictures. Of anything. I am not a technical translator, so I don't have complicated machinery diagrams to worry about, but pictures and a minimum of background information can make the difference between an average translation and a really good one, especially if you're doing fashion, cosmetics, food etc.

Whenever I've tried asking (more than one client) they go "ooh we haven't got time for that" as if I was asking for the moon. Don't they realise that if they just gave me the picture they'd get their translation back in about a third of the time because I wouldn't have to spend three hours trawling the web to decipher their no-context product description.

Any thoughts?


Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
Pictures Mar 20, 2006

In my experience, customers are honets when they say that "there isn't time". In most cases, who is sending you the translation is someone whose only task it is to make sure thge stuff gets translated. Those persons often receive text that was extracted from a database, and the export feature only exports the actual text. Finding pictures or getting additional information can take days, even though it's all within the same company, and by the time you receive the texts for translation, there are only a few days left to send the translations to the printers.

Fred Lessing
Sintra, Portugal


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Italian to English
No idea of the translation process Mar 20, 2006

Hi Claire!
IMHO they don't have any idea of what the translation process involves. They just think we are like walking dictionaries - input the text and the translation comes out. An automatic process where we don't think, we just type.
Or maybe they just don't think at all. It is also extra work for them, so while they can get away with not providing this kind of extra info, they will. Or maybe you are just more conscientious than the rest!


Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
Explain relation between client's efforts and quality of translation Mar 20, 2006

Hi Claire,

Try to explain to client that the more help you get (for example this picture, but also glossaries, reference texts), the better the quality will be.

I agree with you that time factor can sometimes be a good argument when trying to explain to a client that "if you give me those pictures and drawings, I'll be finished much faster", especially if it's an urgent job.

If nothing helps, try to explain that they will pay the same price for a high-quality (based on their drawings) as for an average translation, which is OK but not perfect because you weren't sure about the details.

I also had some clients who got annoyed when I started asking questions about the text, but after I had explained that I don't ask the questions because I'm bored at the office and just wanna have a chat with somebodyicon_wink.gif they finally understood that they of course will have to contribute in order to get a high-quality product.

But the all-time best 'answer' is (I hear once in a while): "I have no idea, write whatever you like" - OK, would you like me to spice up your manual with a joke?icon_wink.gif


Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
ProZ profile

[Edited at 2006-03-20 19:43]


Marco Oberto  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Try convincing your clients with the same words Mar 20, 2006

Claire Titchmarsh wrote:

Don't they realise that if they just gave me the picture they'd get their translation back in about a third of the time because I wouldn't have to spend three hours trawling the web to decipher their no-context product description.

Any thoughts?

To me, the main reason for this lack of understanding by the clients is just the poor knowledge of the translation process in itself.

I would try using the same words you inserted in your post, only slighly refined: they are very effective indeed, and the client certainly understands effectiveness in business.



Aurélie DANIEL  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
English to French
+ ...
Explain and be patient Mar 21, 2006

When I need the pictures I usually have to explain why, but then usually the customer understands.

Last time it happened, there were "no pictures available" at the time of translation. It was on museum architecture. Then the text came back for the final revision, in a pdf with all the pictures. Although I did'nt edit a lot of text, I felt I had to check everything really matched the pictures. So annoying.

But it wasn't my customer's fault. Everybody is on a tight schedule, and almost nobody has a clear view of the "big picture" (er... does anyone???).

I guess in the end it's really our job to make the customer understand what we need them to understand, but it sure takes a little bit of patience...


Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Italian to English
+ ...
patents Mar 23, 2006

I've translated dozens of them, all of them give descriptions of any number of figures, NOT ONE OF THEM has EVER included the damn figures for me to have a look at!



Claire Titchmarsh (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Thanks for your comments Mar 23, 2006

I always had the impression that it wasn't just my experience and that translators get very little input from clients. Never mind, I'll just keep asking and hope for the besticon_smile.gif


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