In this post, we’ll look at some of the most common types of client changes and how to handle them.
The client decided to use a different term. As long as the new proposed term makes sense in the context and renders the source properly, without conflicting with previously-translated materials or a glossary, we can accept the change. If the reviewer prefers to use the term “succursale” to translate “branch locations” instead of the other possibilities (“filiale”, “agence”, etc.), that’s his (or her) call, as long as it makes sense. After all, a burger is still a burger, regardless of whether it was ordered medium-rare or well done.
How should we handle them? If the change makes sense, we can accept and implement it. If a contradiction or a problem arises, it’s best not to reject the change outright, but to open up a dialogue with the client. The reviewer might not have been aware of previous terminology choices.
DEVIATIONS FROM THE SOURCE
The client’s change differs from the source text. In my experience, these always happen for a reason. Clients expect us to translate the source, so when they willingly move away from it, it’s generally on purpose. For example, a product description might have been modified after the text was sent out for translation, a feature could have been removed or a fact updated.
How should we handle them? I always make sure to communicate about the change and confirm it. The reviewer might not be the person who ordered the translation, and the latter should know if and where the final version differs from the source.
ADDED OR DELETED CONTENT
The client has added or deleted something from the target copy.
How should we handle them? Same as for deviations: communicate and confirm.
TYPOS AND GRAMMAR MISTAKES INTRODUCED DURING REVIEW
They happen. As seen in Part 1, client reviewers are not always professional writers. Some translators get frustrated when client reviewers make mistakes that to us seem unforgivable, but we must remember that the reviewer’s responsibilities and talents might lie elsewhere, which is why we were hired for the translation in the first place.
How should we handle them? I generally correct typos and grammar mistakes silently, and add a small note in my delivery email informing the client or project manager that I made sure the final version has no typos as a result of the review. There is no upside to telling a client that their writing skills are lacking unless such feedback is requested specifically.
This happens too. We send out a well-crafted, smooth translation and the changes returned to us seem to degrade its quality.
How should we handle them? With diplomacy. Some translators might refuse to even look at the changes. Others might panic, feel frustrated or become angry. My advice in these cases is to start by breathing. Then, choose 2 or 3 examples of problematic changes and email the client or project manager explaining in a factual manner*why* there is a problem with the change and *how* it can be solved. For example, there might be a terminology change to be kept, but the syntax might need adjusting. If we can show diplomacy and expertise in our communications, the client might just decide to give us the green light to implement the changes that are acceptable and work to improve the changes that need a bit of extra TLC.
OK, we’re all thinking the same thing. Translation errors shouldn’t happen.
How should we handle them? Apologize and correct the mistake. Defensiveness over an objective error will do no good. See what can be learnt from the situation and tell the client it won’t happen again.
These are the changes made by a reviewer with third grade knowledge (see Part 1). We can tell just by looking at them that the author is not a native speaker of the target language.
How should we handle them? In cases like this, I gently refuse to implement or otherwise work on the changes. Doing so would be akin to providing a foreign language lesson to the reviewer and I am not a teacher. In general, two or three factual and detailed examples emailed to the client should suffice to explain things.
These are just a few examples. Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments!
Stay tuned for Part 3: Third party review!
Previous post in this series: Client review changes – Part 1: Where they come from