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Off topic: What's the shortest translation you ever did?
Thread poster: Jan Willem van Dormolen

Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jul 4, 2008

What's the shortest translation you ever did?

Mine was two (2) words. It also was the strangest request I ever got. I was asked to translate "XXX Corporation" (where XXX is a MAJOR Japanese electronics manufacturer). It actually also qualified as one of the most difficult jobs I ever had! How to translate THAT?
I actually asked my PM if he (and the client) was serious. He answered, that, yes the client was serious, and that he was flabbergasted about it too.
In the end I settled for "Het bedrijf XXX" ("the company XXX"), got paid my minimum rate, and never heard back. Nor did I ever see my translation (or any other) in any material of XXX, anywhere, ever.


Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sure Jul 5, 2008

Maybe about 50 words.

How about the shortest poem ever written:

Had 'em

By either Ogden Nash, Eric Shackle or someone else. Nobody really seems to know.


Paola Dentifrigi  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
5 words Jul 5, 2008

A very easy slogan. Paid 20 or 30 euros, don't remember.
A good Belgian client.icon_smile.gif


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
1-10 words Jul 5, 2008

We often receive requests for 1, 2, or 10 words for some additional feature in a piece of software or website we had translated in the past. I reckon this is a quite normal situation for most people.


Tony M
Local time: 20:36
French to English
+ ...
A single, solitary word Jul 5, 2008

Yes, I too quite often get asked to translate just one word, very often for product packaging, for example.

Usually, the lengthy explanations (and occasionally even correspondence!) required to clear up possible ambiguities take a lot longer than the actual translation itself!


Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
German to Italian
+ ...
I think 3 words Jul 5, 2008

A few days ago I translated 3 words for a regular client. Or maybe I did even shorter translations in the past, I don't remember well; it happens relatively often to me.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:36
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
4 words - until last week the record was 8... Jul 5, 2008

I charge for my time, of course!

I have a regular client that seems to be incapable of collecting small jobs and sending them monthly... and it must cost them a fortune, because they have to have most of their product labels translated into all the major EU languages, and then some. I get at least one job a week!

They often want my translation 'yesterday', as the source text is Swedish, and guess what, half the other translators can't read Swedish! My deadline is always at least a couple of days earlier than the one for the Portuguese and Greek translators...

And of course the whole lot has to be done in Trados.
I'm just sorry for the long-suffering PM who has to coordinate all those snippets, but he gets paid too! He says they are really nice people to work for, and "their money doesn't smell" icon_smile.gif


Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:36
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
One char Jul 5, 2008

Actually, I had to guess if a char was a "zero" or the "letter o"icon_smile.gif


Peter Manda (X)
Local time: 14:36
German to English
+ ...
It's the explanation Jul 5, 2008

"Usually, the lengthy explanations (and occasionally even correspondence!) required to clear up possible ambiguities take a lot longer than the actual translation itself! [/quote]"

And I think that's what the client is looking and paying for. So, maybe in that case, the traditional minimum is way too low.

Clients sometimes, I think, can't express what they want. I think that they come to us prior to conducting really expensive regression analysis as to the viability of a term in the local market - does it evoke bias, ridicule, or spurn an unwanted political debate. The one thing that anyone worth his salt in international marketing fears - I am sure - is becoming the next textbook example of what happens when you ignore marketing localization. Nova?


Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I think... Jul 5, 2008 was 30 word-translation about Middle East.


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
bis, ab... Jul 6, 2008

Often customers come back and ask, how I have translated certain German or English prepositions like "bis" or "ab" into Finnish. In many cases they are expressed grammatically, so the customer wonders, where they are, when in fact they are part of the main word.
And when one customer has finally understood it, comes already the next one who asks the same.


Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Shortest job Jul 6, 2008

Depending on how you look at it, you could say that my shortest translation was an assignment that was given to me, only to be cancelled 3 minutes later.


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not really Jul 6, 2008

Paul Dixon wrote:

Depending on how you look at it, you could say that my shortest translation was an assignment that was given to me, only to be cancelled 3 minutes later.

Unless of course you'd completed it within those three minutes.

IMHO, the words "you ever did" imply a translation that you actually completed. That's how I understood the question, at any rate.


Tsogt Gombosuren  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:36
Member (2004)
English to Mongolian
+ ...
"Happy Birthday" Jul 11, 2008

It was the shortest translation I ever did. But I had to deliver 3 versions of this simple phrase in the target language (Kazakh), i.e. for older people, for younger people and for general context.


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:36
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
They can be shorter than they look at first Jul 13, 2008

I was once sent a long web page to translate, but the only thing on it of any interest to the client was "You are not authorized to enter this website".

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