At some point every linguist needs to justify his translations to reviewers who have criticised his work. No matter how appropriate, happy or kind the comments of these reviewers are, we must not lose sight of the fact that our sole objective in responding to them must be to convince them that we were right after all. While it is true that a well-founded response is no guarantee that those who have criticised us will change their minds, it is more difficult to turn a deaf ear to valid and respectful claims than to those who lack these qualities.

Now, many of you may be thinking,”Great, but it takes a long time to write detailed and thorough answers, time that I don’t have. It is a perfectly logical and understandable approach. Taking this difficulty into account, in this brief note, our intention is to suggest some elements that you may wish to use in your responses. The idea is that they develop a natural, almost automatic form of response that allows them to persuade their interlocutors more easily.

Here are three resources that can help:



 translator resources

The most obvious are the bilingual dictionaries,but you can also use general and monolingual dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster, Collins or Oxford, or specific and bilingual dictionaries (preferably renowned), such as The Compact Dictionary of Anglo-American Law in the case of legal translation or The Medical Dictionary in the case of medical translation.

It is recommended that you include the corresponding hyperlink, copy the relevant fragment, or both. For example:”According to The Medical Dictionary, the term XX should not be translated as YY.

Remember that it is also essential to ensure that, if we rely on academies as a language source, we know their latest recommendations. To cite a crude case, if we look at versions of the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy prior to the Spanish Language Spelling 2010, we will find that “solo” was written with a tilde. But this, today, is a mistake.



 translator ethics

Particularly in English, it is essential to use formulas such as”please”,”I/We would appreaciate”,”thank you”,”kindly note that”, etc. Another important detail is to use the conditional mode to soften certain sentences and the passive mode with “se” to depersonalize the comment, so as not to directly attack the interlocutor:”Here it would seem that the context/glossary/client instructions have not been taken into account in the correction, since…”.

The passive sentences have the same effect in English: Although it was pointed out that prepositional use here was incorrect, please note that it is in fact the preferred choice for a high register, according to RAE:”[quote]”. They are a good way to say everything we have to say without directly offending anyone.



 admit mistakes

Although it is not, in itself, a source of substantiation, when we graciously accept that we have made a mistake and thank the reviewer for pointing it out to us, we show willingness to be criticized and imply that we are interested in improvement. For example, by means of expressions such as this: “I agree. Thanks (a lot) for pointing this out!/Thank you (so much) for pointing this out”.

This, in turn, helps our interlocutor to take a better view of those comments in which we refute his or her observations, as we have demonstrated intellectual honesty. It allows us, among other things, to express our disagreement with the reviewer when we consider that a change proposed by him is, in fact, a matter of preference. Of course, as with any other comment, we must always justify our opposition, even if only by drawing on our experience as speakers:”We accept this change. However, kindly note that, although both terms are synonyms in this context, our choice sounds more natural in Simplified Chinese“.

In short, making use of these resources will mainly benefit us: if we manage to incorporate any of them into our writing style, it will take us less time to write a good answer, one that is logical, cordial and therefore persuasive. In this way, we will ensure that we do everything we can to reverse negative results and preserve our good reputation with the client, our source of work.