q = f(t) (where ”q” is quality and ”t” is time)

  Thomas   Jul 11, 2014   Intercultural consultancy   0 Comment

Yes, yes, I know. I have neglected my blog for far too long… But this is only because I’ve had a couple of very busy months and I couldn’t afford the luxury to blog. But you know the saying, better late than never.

A couple of days ago, I read a very interesting interview about good translations/bad translations, good translators/bad translators and I automatically thought of the issue of quality in the translation world. Unfortunately, in our business the concept of quality is very relative, it is very hard to establish a set of universally accepted textual strategy standards. And that’s because we’re different. No two translators will produce the exact same translation of a given source text. But, anyway, I don’t want to go into too many details about this issue now.

Instead, I would like to focus my attention on an element which may be overlooked by translators, LSPs and clients alike (but especially by the latter :) ). No matter how good a translator you are, no matter how much experience you have, if you don’t have enough TIME to complete a project, the translation will simply not reflect your best efforts. This might sound like stating the obvious, but we seem to have taken for granted the idea that ”we live in a fast paced world in which speed is everything…”  Thus it has become generally accepted that a 3000 word translation should be carried out within one day, that tighter and tighter deadlines have to be met. This, however, leads to a considerably high stress factor. And it is common knowledge that stress is directly linked to the quality of one’s work.

Think, for instance, of a project that requires a high level of creativity. Think of a situation where you are required to equate and/or adapt an ”untranslatable” tag line, catch-phrase or headline etc. You read it, you understand it and you know you can come up with a truly elegant solution to it. But you can only afford spending a couple of minutes (or even worse, seconds) on the task. So what is to be done? Well, you find a compromise, a ”good enough” adaptation and you move on. And then later that day, after delivering the translation, perhaps before falling asleep, it hits you! You find the perfect solution to the problem. If only it weren’t too late…

It is true that there are translators who can deliver high quality translations very fast. But it is equally true that some translators require more time to produce high quality target texts. Unfortunately, however, they will not have the chance to prove their prowess… They will simply not have the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of unprofessional translators, I don’t deny the fact that there are quite a few unqualified translators on the global market. But I do think that the time (and rush) factor should also be considered in the whole quality ”equation”. So what if we slowed down for a bit? What if we pondered more on our solutions? What if we had more time to re-read our translations?…

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Thomas

Freelance translator and intercultural consultant working from English, French into Romanian.

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