10 things I wish I’d known when I first started translating

I was extraordinarily wet behind the ears when I first started translating professionally in Spain over 20 years ago.

Although I’d studied literature translation at university as part of my BA language degree course, it was not an appropriate preparation for a career as a translator.

Here’s a list of 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started translating that would have made my life much easier.

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The Thorny Subject of Revisions

Receiving a translation back covered in tracked changes and comments is never a nice experience because it mainly signals that the client is unhappy with your work. A mistake is a mistake and has to be owned up to and corrected. It’s something you have to learn from to improve your skills and ensure you don’t repeat. And you have to hope that the consequences won’t be too serious and that you don’t lose the client as a result.

But when there are no errors and the red highlights differences in opinion between the translator and the reviser/editor, it’s a whole other ball game. The ensuing argument can turn into a battle between who is right and who is wrong. And although one may emerge the victor, as in table tennis, points can be won by either player along the way.

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