Dear Clients – Sometimes you make me so happy I could sing (in several languages, although out of tune) but … on other days your source documents can drive me plumb crazy!
Dear Clients, your translators are not human photocopiers that feed texts in through their eyes and churn the same texts out in different languages through their fingers. Instead, think of your translator as a guide leading you through another culture, conveying your meaning effectively to your target readers, serving as a personal pop-up bridge between your ideas and their minds.
If this is the level of communication that that you seek, it demands huge amounts of concentration and plenty of time as well, with the latter tending to be severely limited in our globalized world. In order to make the best possible use of both these professional assets (concentration and time), a clear source document is vital. We know, sometimes you have only a faded copy of a pre-digital original that must be translated (particularly marriage and birth certificates, wills and property titles). We often receive wavily-scanned forms, blurry PDF contracts, and even photographs snapped furtively on cell phones – and in cases like this, we obviously do the best we can with what we have, within certain boundaries. We want to help as much as possible, but we can only translate what we can actually read, especially for sworn or certified translations. Just like your accountants, no client wants a translator who gets ‘creative’ when working with official documents.
But when you have an eye-catching IPO prospectus, a tempting sales brochure or a dynamic conference presentation, all beautifully prepared in PowerPoint, CorelDRAW or some other amazing graphics app, and then either printed out in hardcopy or converted to PDF, please spare a thought for your desperate translator! Truly a visual delight, subtly steering the reader’s gaze through your narrative and spotlighting nuggets of vital information with high-res photographs and colorful graphs, your bodytext is necessarily scattered all over every multi-columned page in easily-digestable paragraphs and bullet points. With breath-taking graphics and a complex layout, your file will probably be enormous, at 30 MB or more. Easy to send through an Internet link, sure, but almost impossible to convert into editable form, and also extremely hard to handle on the entry-level computers that are used by most (perennially penniless) professional translators. Frequent CPU freezes are guaranteed, with the ensuing loss of translated texts (as deadlines loom inexorably closer).
So, dear Clients, to become our all-time favorite Client, please help by sending us just the clean text (we know you have it stored somewhere there in your servers …) that allows us to do the best job we can for you. We need you, we want you, we love you – and we want you to need, want and love us in return, helping us become your fastest, most accurate and loyal translators!