Why small and urgent translations are evil

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I was driven to write this piece by my thoughts about how to explain some things to people which aren’t all that obvious to them. I have spent years explaining exactly the same things to various experts in their field and it is about time that I wrote them down.

Many people refuse to understand and accept the fact that translation is as much of a business process as their own job. When an average artist thinks this, or a game designer, or a content manager or a developer, this is more or less acceptable. Yet when a project manager or a producer thinks such a thing, sorry, that is the end of ends.

The first thing that you have to understand is that a translation is always outsourced to freelancers. Almost everyone knows about the way freelancers work. The influence of a force majeure and the human factor is great.

Apart from such obvious reasons, there is another, which is much more important in my opinion. The majority of clients (generally) do not put themselves in the place of a freelancer if they had not been in their skin.

The point is that the typical freelance translator usually works with many clients and agencies that there could be dozens of. As a rule, the majority of clients tend to think that they are the best and the translator will make their particular task a priority.

The harsh reality is such that the lion’s share of translators (apart from the rare lucky ones) work in a very self-destructive way. When you are sent a lot of projects every day, requests for corrections which are often unfounded, when you are given unrealistic deadlines, when you are paid late, get annoyed by kids, have force majeures and terrible events occur in your life, when you are ill or fed up then speed and quality suffer.

Working in this mode makes a translator truly not give a shit about their tasks, their client and their issues. All the translator tries to do is to submit urgent tasks in time so that people stop fucking with their brains.

It is very hard to switch between lots of projects, so any urgent tasks ruin the natural working process, cause annoyance and take time. A translator simply has no time to check glossaries, look at translation memories and sometimes to check what they have written. Translate it, submit it, next!

Did you know that the operational time required for translating 1, 10 and 100 words are the same for both a manager and translator? That’s under the condition that the texts are on the same subject and of the same level of complexity, of course. Now you know.

CAT tools are complex, clumsy and badly designed for switching between different projects quickly. Changing between accounts is a separate anal adventure. I would personally die without a password manager.
My general piece of advice to you is this—if you want a localization to be normal, don’t whip the horses at times when you don’t have to. The project will not die when a release is delayed by a day, yet you could definitely die from the editing that will follow. Harm to your next releases is very real too.


Translated by Petr Burov

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