How to handle requests for translating advertising material
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 14:10
English to German
Sep 13, 2007

I have been approached recently by a client if I could translate regular advertising material (i.e. letters going out to prospective clients which praise the advantages of a certain product and try to entice people to buy it) from English into German in the future. Apparently this had been done by someone else before but the client wasn't happy as the result sounded too literally translated and not catchy and snappy enough. They want now someone who can do a freer translation that sounds more natural. For that I was asked to do a little test piece so that the client can see and decide if they are happy with my style. At first, I did not see anything wrong with that. I thought I could at least give it a go.

But the more I think about it (I am still waiting for the feedback), the more I doubt if the client in this case is not actually asking for something that no translator could really fulfill satisfactorily unless he/she is also a talented or trained copywriter (which I am not really and if I were, I would surely ask for much more than my standard translation rate). I am somehow suspicious that a "freer" translation might not be enough and that they would probably better hire a professional copywriter with good knowledge of English or at least let a copywriter edit the "translation".

My question now is how you handle it when you are approached with advertising material and the client wants a "ready to use" translation of it.


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Laurie Price  Identity Verified
Mexico
Spanish to English
+ ...
Copyediting/proofreading vs. translation Sep 13, 2007

I agree with you that what the agency is really looking for is someone to rework the text. An editor, or a copyeditor.

Copyediting/proofreading vs. translation is exactly what many people confuse.

A proofreader doesn't translate. A proofreader corrects spelling mistakes, typos, etc. A copyeditor will correct grammar and rewrite, as necessary, for style, or upon having discussed it with the author, etc.
A translator works with rendering the raw material into another language -- the facts, more or less.

As I do all of these, but have many more years of experience as an editor/copyeditor/proofreader, I will sometimes offer, for more money of course, to 'play' with the text and make it more 'palatable' to its purpose.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:10
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I hope this will be a long thread Sep 13, 2007

I deliver snappy, catchy, free, natural sounding translations at no extra charge. The customer just has to ask. Most of the time my translations are meant to sell something to someone. Writing 'palatable' texts is part of all my jobs. I also believe in Garbage in, Quality out and have received only one complaint in this century.

Regards,
Gerard


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Just do the best you can Sep 13, 2007

satranslations wrote:
My question now is how you handle it when you are approached with advertising material and the client wants a "ready to use" translation of it.


Try to read it from the point of view of a potential customer and just do the best you can. If the company then still wants to have it edited by a professional copywriter, that's up to them.


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:10
Swedish to English
+ ...
I couldn't agree more with Gerard... Sep 14, 2007

...isn't translation about taking the source text and changing it so that it's suitable for the target readers, rather than just swapping one language for another? For advertising texts/sales texts, that means using language that encourages people to buy what's on sale (culturally and linguistically appropriate for the target market).

This is the same principle as if I'm writing a set of instructions for mounting a light fitting - I need to make them clear and understandable for the person trying to get the light to work.


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Julia Glasmann
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
I'm also with Gerard Sep 14, 2007

I don't want to start a discussion of where the work of a translator ends and the work of a copywriter starts, but personally I think translating is much more fun when you are allowed to "play" a little instead of strictly sticking to translation rules.

But then there certainly are also a lot of translators who rather translate technical texts where the terminology is much more important than the style of language.

In the end every translator has to decide him/herself what he/she is ABLE to do for the client and what kind of translation he/she WANTS to do.


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satranslations
Local time: 14:10
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your contributions Sep 14, 2007

I agree with you to a certain degree but by carrying out copywriter work aren't we not much better than the secretary or employee in a company with some foreign language knowledge but no professional translator experience who is asked by his or her boss to "quickly translate this" and does it. In such a case, every translator would be upset about it and talk about that we have to "educate" the client. So do we not overestimate ourselves a bit when it comes to doing work of a copywriter? And when we do it at our usual rate are we not selling ourselves too cheap as to my knowledge a copywriter usually charges a 4 figure sum as his/her daily rate and not just some pence per word.

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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 15:10
French to English
Is it me? Sep 14, 2007

satranslations wrote:

But the more I think about it (I am still waiting for the feedback), the more I doubt if the client in this case is not actually asking for something that no translator could really fulfill satisfactorily unless he/she is also a talented or trained copywriter (which I am not really and if I were, I would surely ask for much more than my standard translation rate).

...by carrying out copywriter work aren't we not much better than the secretary or employee in a company with some foreign language knowledge but no professional translator experience who is asked by his or her boss to "quickly translate this" and does it.


Is it me, or are these two posts contradictory?

I also agree with Gerard. Thank heavens there's a bit of fun involved in translation, and indeed every one of us is something of a writer, for better or worse.

Any time you do publicity you should always make the product sound as irresistible as possible, and use your knowledge of the culture you are adressing to adapt the text to that audience.


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Julia Glasmann
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Yes and No Sep 14, 2007

I would never claim that I can do the work of a copywriter, I can just offer a client to do as good as I can.
In my opinion it's up to the client if he thinks a translator is as suitable for the job as a copywriter or, respectively, if his secretary can do as good as a translator. There certainly is often the need to explain the client the difference between a copywriter and a translator, but then the responsibility of deciding lies with the client, not with us translators.

Regarding the rates: Yes, I also think that copywriters earn more, but I think you can only charge those rates if you ARE a copywriter.


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