Strategies for Revising Poorly Translated Texts

Encountering poorly translated texts can be a common challenge for language professionals. Whether due to a lack of linguistic proficiency, cultural nuances, or attention to detail, revising such translations requires a strategic approach. In this article, we will explore effective strategies for tackling the revision of poorly translated texts, including the option of refusing the project, negotiating an hourly fee, and clarifying the final degree of quality expected.

  • Assessing the Extent of Revision Needed:

Before accepting a project to revise a poorly translated text, carefully assess the extent of revision required. Determine whether the issues are primarily related to grammar and syntax, cultural understanding, or a more fundamental lack of linguistic proficiency. Understanding the root cause of the problems informs your approach to the revision process.

  • Refusing the Project:

In some cases, the challenges presented by a poorly translated text may be beyond reasonable revision. If you believe that the quality cannot be salvaged or that the project exceeds your expertise, it is acceptable to refuse the assignment. Communicate your reasons professionally, emphasizing your commitment to delivering high-quality work and ensuring client satisfaction.

  • Negotiating an Hourly Fee:

When faced with the task of revising a poorly translated text, consider negotiating an hourly fee rather than a fixed project rate. Poorly translated texts often require more time and effort to rectify, and charging hourly ensures that you are compensated fairly for the additional work involved. Clearly communicate the reasons for the hourly rate, emphasizing the complexity of the revision process.

  • Clarifying Expectations with the Client:

Before embarking on the revision, engage in open communication with the client to clarify their expectations regarding the final quality of the translation. Discuss specific issues identified in the initial translation and ensure that the client understands the challenges involved in rectifying them. Aligning expectations from the outset contributes to a transparent and collaborative working relationship.

  • Providing Detailed Feedback:

As you revise the poorly translated text, provide detailed feedback to the client. Clearly highlight areas that needed significant improvement and offer constructive suggestions. This not only demonstrates your commitment to delivering quality work but also educates the client about the shortcomings in the initial translation, fostering better understanding for future projects.

  • Preserving Client Relationships:

While addressing the challenges of a poorly translated text, it’s crucial to maintain a professional and constructive approach. Clearly communicate the revisions made and the improvements achieved. Be diplomatic in your feedback, preserving the client relationship and positioning yourself as a valuable collaborator dedicated to enhancing the quality of their content.

  • Establishing Clear Revision Guidelines:

When taking on revision projects, establish clear guidelines for the revision process. Define the scope of the revision, the expected level of improvement, and any specific client preferences. Having a structured approach ensures that your revisions align with the client’s expectations and contribute to the overall enhancement of the translated text.