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Urgent translations

Should they be avoided?

In our incredibly and increasingly fast-paced business environment, one of the first word many of my clients pronounce is invariably “urgent”. Associate it to “large” and, why not, “cheap” and you have found the ultimate recipe for disaster.

Urgent translation
Fast and furious: not always the best way forward

Do you really need an urgent translation ?

Admittedly, it is not unusual for a last-minute project to require an urgent translation to avoid missing out on major opportunities or wasting copious amounts of cash, and I for one have often been known to work late nights or weekends to help out desperate customers: last-minute customs requirements, unexpected opportunity, human error. It happens.

However, if you’re looking for a quality translation of your marketing material, contractual documents, book or magazine or anything that you have the chance to plan ahead, give your translator the time they need to think. Remember, their main working tool is their brain. Putting too much pressure on it is not a good way to extract the best results out of it.

Urgent translations – how the agencies do it

Translation agencies often claim to be able to deliver enormous amounts of work and to meet impossible deadlines. More often than not, the way they achieve this is by splitting the text in several chunks and by assigning each chunk to a different translator. Even with the best procedures in place, consistency of terms and writing styles is highly likely to be a problem.

How much work can a translator do?

In the translation industry, projects are quantified by their word counts (click here to learn how much translation costs). As a ballpark, any translator claiming to be capable of handling more than 3,000 words per day is either working very long hours or working too fast and they’re certainly not allowing any time for proof-reading - all scenarii likely to result in poor quality copy. A more reasonable output of 2,000 (1,500 for technical texts) is more likely to produce a quality translation.

Remember the saying I can’t afford to do things badly the first time? There is indeed little point in hiring a translator if you’re not going to give them the chance to produce a quality translation likely to give you the results you hope for.

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