Sometimes, or more specifically when I am about to run out of money, I work as a translator (for English and German). Although I’d much rather translate spy novels, as a lawyer I am of course most qualified for legal translations. In fact, some of the contracts or litigation paperwork I translate are so complicated that I don’t know how a non-lawyer could seriously attempt to understand, let alone translate them.
But some clients are only interested in the price. I use freelance websites like People per Hour or oDesk to bid for jobs and I sometimes see that a client awards a translation of a 20-page contract to somebody who bid 25 $. Well, that ain’t gonna get you no quality work. I wonder how many of these translations quietly get thrown away, only to be re-assigned to a real translator. But then, I do occasionally come across websites with poorly or erroneously translated terms and conditions and I can already hear the lawsuits coming to town.
But these are just legal consequences. Nobody is going to die. Now however I saw that clients are even trying to save translators’ fees for potentially dangerous projects:
Seriously, if you have just bought or built a nuclear power plant, do you want to rely on a translator whom you don’t want to pay more than 100 $ for translating the safety manual? Or is this actually a job offer by Al Qaeda plotting their next attack?
When I worked in office I had to do very different translations. The most interesting for me were the technical translations. But you must have basic knowledge of the subject you want to translate. It was very helpful to consult the technicans to understand the subject. And with the years you are half a technican.
One of my Japanese classmates is actually an English major who intends to professionally translate novels from Japanese to English and vice versa. Hopefully she won’t have to translate something as dull as legalese. Translating a nuclear safety manual? My lord, that’s something even someone highly fluent in both German and English could really screw up. I just hope I don’t within the blast zone (or fallout zone) of this plant.
I just hope they won’t just translate it with Google Translate – I’ve just seen a case where Google Translated meaning was the exact opposite of the original text.
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