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Professionalism in translation


A Japanese translator I’ve worked with for years recently contacted me for a recommendation. Now, I’m not in the habit of trotting out recommendations just because someone I know requested one; however, my intuitive response was “I have no problem recommending a professional translator.”

Translation that changed the world

That got me thinking about why without much thought I readily agreed to provide a recommendation.

This person is an excellent English to Japanese translator, highly qualified (solid education, skill and experience) and capable of producing quality. Then again, I work with a lot of excellent translators capable of producing perfect translation (bearing in mind that, being a work in progress, a translation can never be prefect; and the fact that the concept of “perfect” itself can never be realized since we do not know what perfect is to start with!). So, no, this wasn’t it.

Did I like this person? Absolutely! But, here, again, there are many people I like but would never choose to work with, let alone provide a recommendation for.

Of course, professionalism is very much a subjective word, much like beauty -- It is in the eye of the beholder. However, just as beauty is defined by a common standard in symmetry (search for the “symmetry of beauty”), so is professionalism defined by common standards.

Here is the definition of professionalism from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Professionalism defined as the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.

This begs the question, what is professional? Again, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. Characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
2. Exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

Your clients DON’T need likeable and/or capable translators. They need professional translators. And, here’s why:

  • Un-professional translators can cost a company greatly, and in certain cases, even threaten the very existence of a company.

An exaggeration?

Consider a translator that turned in a project 3 days late nary a heads up (or explanation!). In a global product launch delayed 3 days we’re taking major loses. Or, how about a disgruntled translator trashing a company all over the internet with less forethought than the time it takes to click the submit button. Clients of the company don’t care if there isn’t a grain of truth in any of this -- They’ll simply avoid the company all together!

Clients are keenly aware of these risks. Yes, you read correctly -- Risks. And this is the reason why companies are more careful, insisting on tests and trials, references, recommendations, and implementing “sandbox” periods, etc.

This article series (parts 1-3) has focused on winning clients -- Injecting professionalism into your translation will ensure you get to keep clients you’ve worked hard to win over.

How do you project the image of a translation professional? Join the conversation!

About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Japan Translation Services Tokyo Visit SAECULII for the latest professional articles and news on Japanese Translation Services

Copyright (C) SAECULII YK. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article is permitted with inclusion of the "About the Author" reference as is (including text links, japan-translators.saeculii.com/english/services/japanese-translation-services.cfm), and this copyright information. Articles may not be altered without written permission from SAECULII YK.

Tags: English Japanese Translation · Japanese Translation Services · Native Japanese Translators · Professional · Translation guide · Translation personnel · Translator Interpreter



1 &DISCUSS response(s) so far ↓

  • 1 » Shoko Malsom (2012-08-26)

    As preciseness is essential in translating, so is it in professionalism and work ethics of translators. I believe they go hand in hand.

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