Offer translation alternative
Thread poster: Tanja Braun

Tanja Braun  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:23
English to German
+ ...
Feb 26, 2008

Hi everyone,

I have a beginner's question:
When you translate images or metaphors, or other stylistic devices, do you offer translation alternatives to the client? Or do you chose the translation you personally like best? I.e. do the editor prefer a finished, publishable product, or do they like having a choice? Or does offering alternatives seem unprofessional?

Thanks in advance


Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:23
English to Arabic
+ ...
Not usually Feb 26, 2008

Clients and agencies generally prefer to receive a finished product, and it's up to the translator to choose the alternative s/he prefers. The proofreader may have another opinion of course.

In some cases it may be a good idea to write a note to the client - in a separate document or email - to comment on certain passages in the text. I don't usually do that when I'm dealing with a metaphor or the like, but when e.g. I'm not 100% sure I understood the source text correctly. So I say something like: "I understood that part to mean abc and translated it as such, but if it actually means xyz please let me know". Of course, it's better to make such comments before submitting the translation, or if you're submitting it before the deadline.
That's my approach at least.


Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
depends Feb 26, 2008

I think it really depends on the client, and as Nesrin says, the flexibility of the deadline. To me, if time allows, it's a plus to ask the client (or the author, if you're working with him/her directly) about words/phrases which you feel could be translated different ways, or which you feel torn about--but only if the client wants to be involved at this level of detail. I'd suggest asking the client their preference, and going with that. If they don't want to be presented with options, I suggest that you keep all your notes with the various options you've come up with, just in case any questions come back later. Another way to approach it--depending how big the project is (a few poems versus an entire book)--would be to keep all your notes, then attach a cover note summarizing your major questions/doubts when you send the finished translation. The client can then choose to respond or to ignore it, if they're not concerned about it.

Hope that helps--


Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:23
German to English
Proceed with caution Feb 26, 2008

On the whole I would be very wary of providing alternatives. You are the professional translator and it is your job to come up with a good quality, fully usable translation that the client can take away and use - that is what you are being paid for.

Having said that there are a few situations in which I might discuss alternatives with the client. The most obvious one is short, snappy marketing slogans, where I might have had several ideas and can offer the client a couple to choose from.


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