Respecting Translators

My job is to steer the ship called Transfluent, a translation company doing our best to make a difference by making language translation a natural part of everyday life in businesses. A big part of making this work relies on translators. Yes, in 2016, when cars can drive by themselves and people are concerned that AI will one day be smarter than humans, we haven’t found a better way to produce high quality, natural translation of text from one language to another.

There are hundreds of thousands of professional translators in the world, and it’s fair to say that most of us have utilized their services one way of another. The most common case is of course that you use a product that comes from abroad with instructions written in multiple languages. Those instructions didn’t write themselves, they were translated by a translator.

The work of a translator is pretty much invisible. You never see them anywhere, and you often don’t connect with them directly. You just enjoy the results of their work. And just like certain other professions, if a translator makes a mistake, a lot of people take notice. At worst a translation error can lead into life-threatening situation and at best it offers entertainment to everyone.

Translators are often working under a lot of pressure. There is the continuous pressure from machine translators promising to improve quality to the point where humans are not needed. A pet peeve of mine is hearing about people who receive a professional quality translation of a document to a foreign language, put it into Google Translate to translate it back to English, and then complain when the Google translated document sounds horrible.

Another major hurdle for translators is that the deadlines are always too tight. For some unexplained reason, nobody thinks of translation projects until it is absolutely necessary – sometimes too late. I often hear of cases where someone asks the translator to complete something in a few hours. Most people do not realize that translators live where the target language is spoken, many time zones away. This leads to all kinds of complicated issues when a customer expects translation to be completed immediately while the translator is in deep sleep in his home country.

We at Transfluent are trying to act as a safety buffer between translators and the real world. We have a deep respect for the work they do, and we do our best to deliver enjoyable working conditions. We keep unprofessional feedback out of view, and manage unrealistic expectations for things like schedules. And of course, most importantly, we realize translation is a real job and we do our best to always pay on time!

Happy translators produce quality work, which is best for our clients and for everyone.

Image Source: “Business Meeting” by thetaxhaven is licensed under a CC by 2.0