Conference for freelance translators and interpreters 17-19 May, 2018 - Porto, Portugal
Fátima Noronha recently completed her Master’s in Language Sciences (specialisation in Terminology) and currently holds a temporary position as an Invited Lecturer at the Arts and Humanities Department (Humanities and Social Sciences College) of the University of the Algarve. Before devoting herself to the serious pursuit of a career in translation, she completed a degree in Marine Biology, worked as a researcher in Aquaculture and spent many years in scuba diving and aquatic sports training. She has been translating from English and Spanish into Portuguese professionally since 2012, specialising in technical and scientific areas and terminology.
Small jobs, big problems: aspects to consider when dealing with complex workflows
Our world has shifted into the digital age. As e-commerce grows, companies are increasingly dependent on internet sales, and communicate with their clients via dynamic websites. To keep pace, more and more multinational companies require translations to promote and sell their products. While some companies use MT plugins, others opt for human translators to make sure that meaning is conveyed accurately and to guarantee that texts are culturally appropriate. Usually, they hire a translation agency which distributes several tasks among freelance translator teams. Most of these tasks are either small or very small jobs (i.e. fewer than 300 words). Examples of such texts include consumer products (food labels and packaging information), booking websites in the travel and tourism industry, and other e-commerce sites. This trend seems set to continue for a long time and most likely will shape the way translation is done in the decade ahead.
Translation agencies have developed different strategies to handle the large number of tasks involved (lots of small texts and several language pairs). Their workflows are either more or less complex, depending on their internal organisation and the perceived needs of their end clients.
These workflows can become extremely complex, however. For the translator and proofreader, this could mean extra work in processing tasks, requiring additional (and sometimes significantly more) time spent on the job. In such cases, the translator needs to account for this additional time spent on admin-heavy small assignments. Proceeding with caution when accepting small jobs glued to complex workflows is recommended.
This presentation is based on recent work experience translating many small jobs with complex workflows. I will give two examples of actual workflows, discuss ways to deal with this particular issue, and share strategies which allow a better analysis of those “not-so-small“ pitfalls. I hope that these tips will help other inexperienced translators decide more easily whether or not to accept this kind of work, bearing in mind that such scenarios seem to be here to stay.