Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Poll: If you absolutely had to choose, what would it be?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 20:13
Sep 13, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "If you absolutely had to choose, what would it be?".

This poll was originally submitted by Maria Rosich Andreu

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see:


Maria Rosich Andreu  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:13
Member (2003)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
the reason Sep 13, 2006

This question was asked to me during a job interview. I am really curious as to what do most of us think!


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:13
German to English
+ ...
Leading question Sep 13, 2006

The word "absolutely" implies the sort of job where the deadline is crucial and very very tight. Normally I would try to discuss the situation with the client and get him/her to realise that instant translation means being less careful than normal on the checking.

But my general selling point is doing high quality work on specialised subjects, and clients are normally happy to accept that I need enough time for the job. So the question here relates to the extreme "tight corner" that comes along rarely.

If you had asked about the comparative value of quality and productivity, that would presumably have got a very different set of responses.


Reed James
Local time: 00:13
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Deadline = Quality Sep 13, 2006

If you don't deliver on time, you are compromising quality--quality of service. What use is a perfect translation to a client if he or she can no longer use it because it arrived late? That would defeat the whole purpose.



Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:13
French to English
+ ...
difficult one! Sep 13, 2006

in an interview, I might say something like 'I'd always make it my priority to respect the deadline, but I would also make sure beforehand that the deadline was reasonable and allowed enough time to produce a good quality translation'.


Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:13
French to English
Talking hypothetically... Sep 13, 2006

...with a metaphorical gun to one's head, or having, for some hypothetical reason, got oneself into, or been placed in, a situation where the translation can either be "quality" or "on time" but not both, then I would think that the ideal answer to such a trick question in an interview would be "I'd let the client decide".

However, extending our hypothetical situation still further, such that we have to imagine the client is not available to make the decision between the quality and the deadline, I'd go for the deadline every time.


M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:13
English to Polish
Quality of translation Sep 13, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:

If you don't deliver on time, you are compromising quality--quality of service. What use is a perfect translation to a client if he or she can no longer use it because it arrived late? That would defeat the whole purpose.


I understood the "quality" as "quality of translation", so a choice between delivering worse translation on time, or better... not exactly after the deadline, I'd rather discuss it first with the client.

If I can't have reasonable time for translation, then I don't accept it.

Anyway I voted quality.


[Edited at 2006-09-13 12:54]


Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hum... Sep 13, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

...with a metaphorical gun to one's head

Quality, which explains why I will never be an interpreter.

icon_lol.gif Au


Vito Smolej
Local time: 05:13
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Shall it be swords or pistols? Sep 13, 2006

It is a leading question indeed. So I voted for Quality / bang as opposed to time / wimper.

My answer to the question in the title is of course: "Duel?! Who's talking duels?" If you ask me again Quality vs Time?, I would never let myself get caught in such a situation. And that would be my honest question to the interviewer ... who'd probably scribble "shows signs of avoidance behaviour" on my application papers...

[Edited at 2006-09-13 13:11]


Brandis (X)
Local time: 05:13
English to German
+ ...
I get very tight time framed projects Sep 13, 2006

HI! then I automatically set the price up about 30-50% on average market price. Should the budget not fill it, then the quality of not important, but the deadline, this is the issue mostly with recurring clients lately. They all want overnight and cannot pay the high-price. On the other hand, there are also those type with quality and adequate time, price being normal. After all you couldn´t do better. Never overdo yourself. Best Brandis


Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:13
English to Turkish
+ ...
N/A Sep 13, 2006

It is up to the client to make that choice. We serve the client, right?


Eva T
English to Albanian
+ ...
Yes Ozden Sep 13, 2006

If the client will give you an unreasonable deadline, then he knows that the quality will be compromised. I also like Reed's words: Deadline = Quality. If you couldn't deliver it, all your work went for nothing.


Özden Arıkan wrote:

It is up to the client to make that choice. We serve the client, right?


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Something has to give, but not quality Sep 13, 2006

Reminds me of a job I did recently that involved a huge pile of documents that had to be done in one week. Quality was not compromised but there were concessions for the sake of efficiency that were agreed with the client from the start.

My normal practice is to translate absolutely everything. However, in this case, much of the information on the documents could be dispensed with, while limiting the translation to only those parts that were pertinent. I could also eliminate much work that would have been involved in dealing with a horrendous format.

That is what I call an "efficient translation". It saves a very considerable amount of work, time and money, while it communicates what is needed.

Clients trust me to do this, I meet their deadline, the price is right and they get what they need.

I have also found that when the pressure is really on my concentration increases significantly, resulting in less mistakes and more attention to detail. Thus, quality does not suffer under tight deadlines; it increases.

I think I have said before that it would probably take me more time to produce a poor quality job; that would entail extra work, and I´d have to change more!

By the way, have any of you ever used the "efficient translation" technique?


Irene N
United States
Local time: 22:13
English to Russian
+ ...
Missing option - serving the purpose Sep 14, 2006

I have mentioned this before - translation quality is not the end clients' ultimate goal, it's his money and the sale that matters.

Thewhole thing is not about the finest tune, this is exclusively about serving the purpose. Under normal circumstances the poll question makes very little sense, under time/money critical ones - as long as we ensure that 2 sides understood each other, the tournures can relax until better times, we delivered the message, i.e. served the purpose.


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
English to Hindi
+ ...
"Never let the good kill the best," Professor Gupta Sep 14, 2006

The poll makes an unsaid assumption that if the deadline is met, quality automatically suffers. This may be true in some cases, but not always. The quality of the translation in most cases is not dependent on how fast you translate. Most experienced and good translators churn out uniformly good translations whatever the working conditions may be, which includes the time factor.

So quality does not usually suffer if you are hard-pressed for time.

We have to keep in mind that we are performing a service that must serve a purpose, the purpose of the client. Quality is one of the aspects of the service we provide. Timeliness is another.

Professor Anil Gupta* of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, has an interesting way of putting this dilemma. He says:

"never let the good kill the best."

Implying thereby that the good (the ideal, the most perfect possible) is desirable, of course, but in many instances, the best (the best that is possible under the circumstances) will also do. So don't sacrifice the best at the altar of the good.

I think this is pertinent advice to us translators who have to choose between quality and deadline.

*Professor Gupta is a man with ideas. He was adjudged as one of the fifty most influential people in the world in the field of intellectual property rights in 2003.

He has set up a clutch of organizations to promote innovation at the grassroots level, which include SRISTI, Honeybee Network, National Innovations Foundation, and GIAN.

Those who are interested to learn more about his activities and thinking, may visit his personal blog at:

[Edited at 2006-09-14 06:05]

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: If you absolutely had to choose, what would it be?

Advanced search

Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search