This guest post cannot possibly say everything about revision and does not need to. Nikki Graham has already grouped together a number of revision-related blogs worth reading here for your convenience.
This means I am free to skip all the usual definitions and give you instead a hotch-potch of impressions and experiences which might give you some food for thought about how you approach revising your own work, how to refine your response to revisions by others of your work, and how you, perhaps, perform revisions on the work of others. I have written from the perspective of a revisor; a revisor whose own translation and revision work has come under harsh scrutiny where some revisions made and conclusions drawn have been justified, and others not. I continue to hope that insights thus gained serve to make me a better translator and a better revisor.
Early July I had the immense good fortune to translate a short piece about Grace Jones who gave us one of my all-time favourite songs: ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. Immersing myself in her music again after far too long an absence (I think it’s essential to listen to the music of the artists I translate about to help the creative juices flow in the right direction) was not only uplifting after all the political bad news (Brexit), but also reminded me about her strong personality and how she broke the moulds.
Back in October 2014 on my old blog I wrote about some reasons why an agency might stop working with you. As both the original post and the republished version on this blog on WordPress, My Words for a Change, amassed a lot of interest and comments, I’ve highlighted some more reasons below why you might suddenly find an agency no longer calls or emails you. They are based on the feedback and a few of my own observations.
Although this and the previous post focus on working with agencies, some of the points are equally valid for working with direct clients. I hope you find them useful.
When does a revision go too far?
When is a translation not a translation?
Revision is a very thorny subject, as I mentioned in my previous post on the topic. It can generate a lot of bad feeling if you think the changes made to your work were unnecessary and if the reviser’s opinion could mean you lose a client.
But what if the reviser screams “too literal” at every turn and changes the sentences so drastically they not only no longer resemble the original translation, but barely reflect the author’s ideas either?
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.
I started my translation studies at ISTI (the Institut Supérieur de Traducteurs et Interprètes, which is now part of the ULB, the Université Libre de Bruxelles) in Brussels, five years ago. After three years of a Bachelor’s degree in this department and an Erasmus at UEV in Valencia (Spain), I had fallen in love with translation and decided to continue my Master’s degree at ISTI (ULB).
At the beginning of the first year of the Master’s programme, students can choose between a career in translation or interpreting. Personally, having always loved writing, I made the decision to study an MA in translation.
I’m sure many of you can identify with this scenario: an end client sends an agency similar documents on a regular basis and most are largely the same with just a few tweaks needed here and there to incorporate new information. Sometimes this work is handled by agencies that farm the job out to the first available translator, provide them with a TM and tell them not to touch 100% matches (which they don’t pay for). Sometimes the agencies are quite happy for you to alter the TM and pay a sliding-scale revision rate for matches. Other times the agency sends the work to the same translator year after year, who can then use his or her own TM to do the job. However, in the latter case, the one I’m most familiar with, the preferred usual translator is inevitably not always available, so the document is sent to another translator to process along with copies of previous translations.