Delivery: chapter by chapter as final versions?
Thread poster: Hellen Varela-Fdez.

Hellen Varela-Fdez.  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 19:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 28, 2006

When you have a long translation project, let’s say a science textbook for school children (long, but not too long, but with many specialized terms), I guess you translate chapter by chapter, and even when you should read the entire text you don’t do it because there is no time. icon_wink.gif

Ok! So, you work chapter 1 and then… what do you do? Do you send it to your client as a final version or just as a draft? Does you client understands that maybe you will want to make changes?

Most of the times, when you get to chapter 11, you will notice that “X” word needs to be changed in chapter 2, because now that you have read almost the entire book you found out a better term?

So, what do you do? Do you talk clearly at the beginning with the client and let him know that you will be sending just a draft because he (she) insists “to be part of the process” or you make him understand that you will send your translation just at the very end?

I am proposing this forum because in previous projects I have been required by the client to send each chapter as a final version, and of course, when you finish your job you feel that something didn’t go right because you could have used a better word if you had the chance to make changes in the first chapters. Someone told me this is today’s way of working! Is it?


Mark Oliver  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
Indonesian to English
+ ...
Only if quality control is no issue Mar 29, 2006

Delivery of individual chapters of a book as "final" (i.e., not to be edited) versions seems somewhat unrealistic, since it removes the possibility of quality control

In my experience, such matters have been coordinated by an editor (and sometimes in conjunction with other translator "teammates" who were working on different chapters of the same books), such that one of the translators performed a translation of the book's index, checking the context of unfamiliar or difficult words according to the page numbers of said index; the translated index was then examined by the other translators, resulting in discussions/arguments over terminological choices. The resulting translated index is then applied by all parties as a form of glossary to ensure chapter-by-chapter consistency -- but even then the terms are subject to change, as one can gain a completely different appreciation of contextual meaning from reading a chapter/book cover-to-cover, as opposed to looking up words at random from an index, thereby reading sentences out of context.

In short, then, a high-quality translation of a book-length work demands the flexibility to edit and revise as one goes along. It also adds considerable cost to the bottom-line, but one gets what one pays for.


Lucinda Hollenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
Every project is different Mar 29, 2006

However, I would definitely not accept a project where I could not do a thorough checking and final quality control of the whole thing.

This is what happened with the management book that I translated:

- I first translated CH 1,2,3 and the author sent that to the publisher for approval. They approved.

- Then I each time either translated one or two chapters and sent them on.

- I had some previous chapters that I changed stuff in (had found better more powerful words/sentence construction, etc.) and when that happened, I advised both the author and the publisher.

- After the whole thing was done, there was time built in to eye-ball the whole translation.

Finally, the publisher took over, did their thing and sent back the final proof.

- I was mostly in contact with the author, especially in the beginning and more with the publisher towards the end.

- It is of the utmost importance (in my opinion) to have a good weekly/daily project plan. I used MS project plan. It keps you on track and easily allows adjustments if you get off track.

- My author was still tweaking the book when I did the translation. The publisher and I knew that there would be these kind of changes, so I knew that I could not be without such a PP.

Hope that this helps!
Good luck with your project.


Hellen Varela-Fdez.  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 19:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks, really a good help! Mar 29, 2006

Thanks for your comments. They will really help me in my next project.

Let’s see if someone else has a reply.



Pablo Roufogalis (X)
Local time: 20:25
English to Spanish
Agree to any option in advance. Apr 1, 2006

It depends on the customer, but make sure you agree to what the customer wants before starting the job.

I once accepted a job from a new customer, that was to be done in about 25 days. After a week the customer started asking for the final versions of the first chapters and expected partial final deliveries up to the deadline date, something I never agreed to.

This is something that must be stated in the purchase/work order, specially with new customers.


Trevor Butcher
Local time: 03:25
The hole story Apr 3, 2006

No project, big or small, can carry guarantees that the the first part will be fine - or that you will continue to believe it is fine. Hence I think it is quite important to sometime sit down and think about what we are actually doing, and how we realte to the processes we use.

I think there are at least four processes, one is that learning process that you go through when you read a book, for example. Not until the whole book has been read do you understand the whole plot. Now you can go back and see the earlier stuff in the light of knowing the whole.

The second is that as time passes you learn stuff, and recall other stuff, and this affects what you bring to the project. You might do a separate small text, someone might say something, you see something on telly - and your perceptions of the project change.

The third is by producing a translation you produce something that is vitally different from the original. This could partly relate from the difference in cultures or language, but it also includes the fact that you are not the author, living in the author's shoes.

Fourthly - you shouldn't forget that the author is going through a similar process. The author you spoke to two weeks ago is no longer the same person, things have happened in their life and how they relate to the project has changed.

If someone is going to check your work, then they will bring along their own mental baggage, and by the time you get the text back you too have moved on and now not only have they made the text more 'their own', but you also have a new relationship to the job.

So, what dos this all mean?

Well, if you make a hard promise up front to deliver x chapters per week and that they will be good, then you may just have to grit your teeth and ride the storm if someone notices a problem.

On the other hand, if you are the one managing the project, then maybe you should be careful in your criticism of a translator when the results do not match you or your customer's expectations - there maybe more going on than you imaginedicon_smile.gif


Hellen Varela-Fdez.  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 19:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks! Apr 3, 2006

Pablo and Trevor, thanks for you contribution. Thanks for such reflections. Really helpful! icon_smile.gif


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