How to kill a project before it goes to print: The top five mistakes uneducated end clients make

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The next time you come across a translated volume of uneven quality and discordant voices, the source of the problem way well be the end client, not the various players who worked on the publication.

The client is not always right. Sometimes the end client commits translation roadkill by:

1. Starting work on a bilingual publication without putting its translation team in place.

2. Contacting its translation team with a stated volume and deadline, but with only half the texts written and no clear date when the rest of the files will be available.

3. Shortening the deadline by half once the translation is already under way (and the rest of the source texts still unavailable).

4. Scurrying about to find extra translators to handle the volume in the reduced amount of time.

5. Allowing no time for review and harmonization of all the texts translated by a slew of last-minute recruits.

This is just what happened to a wonderful corporate book on which a respected colleague had asked me to work with him. We are finishing the sections we had started and calling it quits.

We work hard and long for projects we can be proud of. We won’t even consider whipping through an entire book in under a week. “We don’t do MT”.

Disappointing? Of course. But the big looser is the end client. They’ve tossed a nice chunk of change right out the window and won’t have much to show for it.

Savvy clients invest. They do the exact opposite of each point above because they want their corporate books to shine in all languages.


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