What Kind of a Role Does a Client Play in a Language Translation Project?

The client has the choice of working with an individual or a company for their foreign-language needs. An individual, or freelance translator or interpreter, works directly with clients. Individuals also frequently contract their services to translation and/or interpretation companies. A language translation and/or interpretation company either has a staff of in-house translators and interpreters, or contracts with a wide variety of freelance individuals to work on a client’s project. There are strong arguments for both and the ultimate decision may well depend upon the specific needs of the client. Working with an individual may be more economical and the client has the added flexibility of dealing directly with the person performing the work. In a long-term working relationship, the individual is able to focus on the client’s business, adapt to certain style and formatting specifications, and learn company-specific terminology. Translation and/or interpretation companies, on the other hand, offer the consumer the convenience of a wide variety of languages and subject specialties. In addition to managing multilingual projects and offering editing, proofreading and desktop publishing, these companies often provide a wide array of services such as software and website localization, software testing, glossary management, and simultaneous interpreting equipment rental. They should also offer a service that may be defined “client’s education”, in which they explain to the client before agreeing to work, the information contained, for example, in this document.

Clients can play an important role in the success of their own project. For interpretation and translation projects alike, lead-time is very important. Contact your prospective individual or translation and/or Interpretation Company as far ahead of time as possible. This costs you nothing, and does not obligate you. Interpreters need to know the dates and times when their services will be needed so they can plan their schedules accordingly. Translators need to have deadlines, even if only tentative, so they can assign priorities. Do not expect work to be done overnight or even within a few days. The longer and more technical the text the longer the time required for a good translation. It is not a good idea to request a “rough” translation that requires almost as much work as a final copy, but may contain errors or ambiguities. A surcharge may be levied for a rush job.

The client should be aware that, for Consecutive Interpreting, the speaker should limit the length of the sentences that the interpreter needs to retain before rendering them into the Target Language. For Simultaneous Interpreting, the speaker should allow some extra time (a few seconds) to the interpreter to allow him/her to finish the sentence in the target language, and to periodically check by looking at the interpreter, if he/she needs a few more seconds to complete. In general, the speaker looking at the interpreter allows this last one to confirm or eventually show by sign language if the job flow is fine or if there is some kind of problem. This is also to avoid interruptions in the interpretation.