Is there such a thing as a satisfied translator?
Thread poster: Sandrine Ananie

Sandrine Ananie  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
Member (2009)
English to French
Nov 27, 2009


I just read the "perfect translation" thread and it got me thinking about something : while most translators on that thread tend to agree that there is no such thing as a "perfect" translation, do you think a translator can ever be 100% satisfied with his or her translation?

I, for one, am very rarely totally satisfied with my translations. I tend to think a translation can always be improved or made more enjoyable to read. Feedback is always great and people keep coming back, so I guess I must be doing something right, but will this haunting feeling last forever?!

Is this something you experience or have experienced?


Valery Kaminski  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:07
English to Russian
+ ...
The feeling Nov 27, 2009

I think that this 'haunting' feeling is one of the most important things to be found in a translator capable of getting really close to producing the "perfect translation."

Unless, of course, it is caused by some sort of persecution maniaicon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2009-11-27 11:00 GMT]


Jon O (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:07
Dutch to English
+ ...
not sure but.... Nov 27, 2009

I think there are very many self-satisfied translators.....


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
It never goes away Nov 27, 2009

We're all perfectionists (I hope) and due to the inherent flexibility of language, and the changing times, there always seems to be "a better way" to translate something - even if the translation is already excellent.

I'm always nervous about going back and re-reading my translations done a year or more ago - I always find something that might have been done differently.

But at the same time I also know that to have done it differently would have required a comprehensive rewrite of the whole translation !

I suspect this happens because our own command of our target language is always evolving, and we might not say something today in exactly the same words we used yesterday.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Perfectionism Nov 27, 2009

- according to a friend and colleague of mine - is actually due to a feelings of inadequancy/anxiety/inferiority, a lack of confidence in oneself and one's actions.
Be that as it may, I'd usually rather have my text translated by a perfectionist, pedant or nitpicker than some slapdash "that'll do them" merchant.
Pride comes before a fall, so it is better never to be TOO satisfied with your output, but I see thoroughness and taking a certain pride in my work as part and parcel of the translation process, and only on very rare occasions have I handed over a translation that I thought could be improved be further revision or proofing and always at the client's insistence.
In fact, many clients would rather go for the trade-off of having a job done quickly than perfectly.
Whatever the case, if you get good feedback and the clients keep coming back, you must be doing something right!


Local time: 10:07
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
It should stay, I believe Nov 27, 2009

I think this is one of the things that would make a great transaltor, because you will always be aware that you are not 100% perfect, and hence you will take great caution when translating - it will keep you on your toes. At least that's what I think.

I think, that if you become completely satisfied, you will let your guards down, thus making way for mistakes.


Local time: 10:07
Dutch to English
As satisfied as can be Nov 27, 2009

Having said that, I agree with Jon O about self-satisfied translatorsicon_smile.gif


Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:07
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Self-satisfaction Nov 27, 2009

Jon O wrote:

I think there are very many self-satisfied translators.....



Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Much as I hate deadlines... Nov 27, 2009

... they are sometimes the only thing that can make me finally stop revising a text and leave it alone!

I have had jobs where I had plenty of time... and fiddled and fiddled. There comes a point when things do not get better. In fact they may get worse instead, because I forget to add or remove the ´s´ from a verb, or some other little error creeps in to replace the one I deleted.

In fact this sometimes applies to other people's work too. I had a really well-written proof today, and adjusted a couple of things, only to change them back - the changes disrupted the balance one way or another.

I noted a couple of smart expressions I must remember next time I meet the same problem, and sent the text back as it was!

It does happen occasionally. Was I 100% satisfied? Well, I don´t want to spoil my weekend over it, now I HAVE delivered my compliments to the translator!



Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very rarely 100% satisfied Nov 27, 2009

Well, every time you reread a translation you may add a little bit of extra satisfaction, but the percentage of satisfaction you add is inversely proportional to the number of review steps, so perhaps:
- Just translated: 70% satisfied
- Review: +15% satisfied > 85% satisfied
- Proofreading on paper: +7.5% satisfied > 92.5% satisfied
- Reprinting for review a while later: +3.75% satisfied > 96.25% satisfied
- Let it lie for some days, then reprint and proofread: +1.88% satisfied > 98.1% satisfied
etc. etc.

Yes, eventually after letting the text lie for a couple of weeks with several reviews in-between, you could eventually be 100% satisfied... perhaps...icon_wink.gif


LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:07
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Probably more satisfied interpreters than translators Nov 27, 2009

Translators at least have the luxury (or burden, depending on how you look at it) of performing multiple reviews and revisions, and thus have ample opportunity to second-guess themselves. Interpreters get only the proverbial "single take".


Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:07
Member (2009)
French to English
I'd rather be unsatisfied... Nov 27, 2009

...because the alternative is to *think* that you did a great job, only to be told that you did not! I find that I will continue to research terms that bedeviled me months after the translation has been turned in. That way, hopefully I will do better the next time that I encounter the term.


English to Russian
+ ...
In a Dream Nov 28, 2009

As for me, I seldom feel satisfied, only when I did manage to do something almost impossible)) *it happens.

Yet I feel more satisfied when my people are happy.
IMO my job, while quite important, has little to do with it.
So I think that my buoyancy is enough)



Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
I am very satisfied when: Nov 28, 2009

- the client is happy
- and pays early


Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:07
French to German
+ ...
Reinventing the wheel? Nov 28, 2009

I think we are not challenged to reinvent the wheel or to rediscover the Grail every day. Satisfaction is a relative thing.

As it was said previously, I am quite satisfied when I see returning customers, when I receive a warm "congrats" e-mail from time to time and when I am paid on time. This is turn does not mean that I can afford to rest on my laurel leaves. There is always something to improve and the best way of achieving these improvements is to set oneself small milestone objectives.

And sorry, although I read some of the forum posts related to the "Perfect translation" topic, I think this was quite a futile discussion, in the style of How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

[Edited at 2009-11-28 06:49 GMT]


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