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Today's post is about something that comes up in our industry quite often. The scenario is this: the highly talented translator delivers a world-class translation, only for the clueless client (we mean this tongue-in-cheek, in case you haven't noticed) to destroy it by "editing" it when the client should stick to his or her area of expertise and leave the translating to the talented translator. The resulting edited translation is not improved at all: quite the contrary. It's a disaster. Now the translator is indignant and complaining to all her colleagues and friends about it. Does this sound familiar? Let us suggest a different way of looking at it.
After the client pays for your work, he or she owns it. Period. They are free to do with your product as they please, because you now longer own it (yes, we got a legal opinion on this). A translator can certainly insist that his or her name not be listed as the translator on a mutilated translation, but the reality is that most translators can't get their names within 10 miles of most translations anyway, so this shouldn't be a big concern. We are not saying that the client is right in destroying a perfectly good translation with good intentions but bad language skills, but that's life. Translators are no different than lawyers, doctors, interior designers, stylists, etc. We hear our stylist when she tells us black is not our color, but we love it anyway. We hear our doctor when she tells us to lay off the fatty Mexican food, but it's so tasty. Our CPA is right that we should be more organized in our charity donations, but we aren't. Sometimes clients buy a Mercedes and put gaudy rims and license plates with rhinestones on it. The dealer probably cringes, but if the client's money is good, what can be done? Not much.
We have had this scenario happen very infrequently, but when it does happen, we just make sure to detail in writing why we think the translation should be published/going to print as is and list the reasons. Then we say that we are happy to give our professional opinion, since that's in part what we are getting paid for. If the client insists to use the mutilated translation anyway and our names are on it, we respectfully ask to have our names removed. We think it's important to stick to your role of professional advisor and not become too indignant when the client doesn't follow our advice. They pay us for it, so they are free to take it or leave if after they've paid for our services.
That said, we are on our way to the tailor to have her add some ruffles to a gorgeous black Jil Sander suit. While we are at it, we might stop by the hairdresser's to see if she can turn us into redheads. Just kidding!
What do you think, dear friends and colleagues? We'd love to hear your thoughts.