Common practice?
Thread poster: Nina Spencer

Nina Spencer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:25
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Aug 9, 2006

I am a fairly new translator who would like to know when you return a translation, do you make the client aware of choices or ambiguities?

The translation I am doing could be literally translated or have English terms left in.

Very grateful for your responses - great site!



Vito Smolej
Local time: 00:25
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
several approaches possible Aug 9, 2006

do you make the client aware of choices or ambiguities?

i) it never hurt to ask. Note however, that the shorter the list, the greater a chance you get an answer. Plus you have to ask before you start with the work and given long turnaround times and short delivery deadlines, this may work in only half of the cases.

ii) make a sound decision and explain it: example (what I am doing right now). The source document is badly formatted (tabs, hard breaks). I'll correct it ("last time without extra charge" g) and explain to the agent, why I did it.

And, to stick to my own suggestion, Im making the list short ;P.



Ivette Camargo López  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Always best to ask, but... Aug 9, 2006

Hi Nina,

In general, like Vito has explained, it is best to ask or comment any doubts, and the shorter the better.

But in my opinion you should always ask, especially because if there are any post-delivery issues about the translation that really required the OK of the customer, it is best that you asked or commented it before delivering.

But you will learn with time how to best send these questions, depending on the "style" of the company. Some companies can be very helpful about these questions, some are not so interested in this, so you will have to apply your common sense with each separate case.

Good luck,



Vito Smolej
Local time: 00:25
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
second that Aug 9, 2006

But in my opinion you should always ask

It's good to have a paper trail if there's a screw-up. And if you see the client's mail box swell with time, you will know, what to do: RUN...

one possible warning example: I sent three times the one and the same Excel file back to the agency with several questions in form of commentaries to questionable cells, for instance with one of the cells with English content ("Load") highlighted and equipped with a comment:"Should I leave in English or translate".

None of the answers - even though I explained how I meant it - indicated the person looking at the file realized there's commentaries to see. The best answer was from the company owner - standing in for her girls during the holiday time -:"Load im Sinne laden, so wie 'Schiff laden' oder "Teller laden'" - I'm extemporizing, but I admire the lady for not exploding in my face and playing Florence Nightingale to an evident dimwit instead.

Lost in translation - oops, sorry - transmission...

[Edited at 2006-08-09 11:56]


Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
I highlight text Aug 9, 2006

I usually highlight text in the translation and make a list with comments. This may be related to a typo in the source, a sentence that does not flow or simply a word that cannot be found anywhere or has several meanings. I try to make it as logical and short as possible and always number the comments.

Very often I will take a very educated guess but if I am not 100% sure, I will add it to my list of comments.


xxxXX789  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Sorry, wrong thread Aug 9, 2006

Sorry, posted in wrong thread.

[Edited at 2006-08-09 12:09]


Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:25
German to English
Don't wait for the deadline Aug 9, 2006

In my experience agencies don't mind a reasonable dripfeed of queries or alternative solutions while the job is in progress. Often they can reply in time to make your job easier, either from their own resources or transmitting the queries to the client.
It might sound like an obvious thing to do, but it works and is usually appreciated; being human, agents like evidence that translators are expending colossal amounts of mental energy on turning out the perfect text... (always the case with proz people of course)
Good luck
(I think Ivette made a similar point too)


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends... Aug 9, 2006

Like so many other questions, the answer is "it depends." It depends on the client, and sometimes, if applicable, on the end client; it often depends on the purpose of the translation, too.

It may be that (a) they expect you to deliver a final translation ready for publication, free from any translator's notes or alternative options; or (b) they wish to receive a translation with the ambiguities and alternate translations indicated. As to the resolution of problems, (1) they may want to resolve these together with you, (2) feed you the answers you are supposed to use, or (3), leave the resolution of such problems completely up to you.

With a new client, when you don't know their policy, the best of the thing is to ask as soon as a few questions have arisen. This will give you the opportunity to discuss in advance of the deadline which combination of the above options they are expecting at delivery.


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