Show me yours and I’ll show you mine!

Bottom line

My customers fall into one of two categories – they’re either ‘clients’ or ‘partners’. Or from their perspective, I’m either a ‘contractor’ or a ‘partner’. Mere semantics? No …

Bottom line – it’s far more cost-effective and efficient for my customers when we’re ‘partners’.

Let’s say Customer A (a client) and Customer B (a partner) both send me exactly the same content to translate. (Highly improbable, I know, but hypothetically speaking. Bear with me!)

Linguistically, I’ll provide the same deliverable (English-language content). But my ‘partner’ will be saving time and money compared to my ‘client’. Huh?

The client

Customer A is a ‘client’ who views me as a ‘contractor’. It shields its content creation process and workflow from me. I’m merely a ‘translator’ to them – kept at arm’s length …

‘Here are some words. Translate them!’

Often, but not always, this goes hand in hand with an underlying assumption that as a ‘translator’ I couldn’t possibly have any technical understanding of the associated back-end processes or workflows … content management systems, WordPress, Squarespace, Adobe InDesign, Framemaker, etc., etc. After all, I’m just the ‘word person’.

The partner

Customer B and I are ‘partners’. We’ve invested some time together looking at their English-language content creation process. Where and how can we streamline workflows? Where and how I can provide added value? Quite often, we can cut the turnaround time from finished Dutch content to finished English content significantly. This is where my partner saves time and money again and again on each piece of content that needs translating.

The challenge
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It’s challenging. It involves educating customers. Often, as I start to broach the subject, I get a ‘Just translate the friggin’ text, will you?’-kinda reaction …

Translation was already an after-thought, it probably wasn’t properly budgeted for, and the deadline was yesterday. They haven’t got time to find out how they could be getting the same translation more quickly and cost-effectively! And they often have virtually zero understanding of the translation process itself, but to be honest that’s something they don’t necessarily need to know about. That’s my area of expertise.

The classics

Alarm bells generally start ringing and red flags start waving when a client sends me:

  • a PDF file
  • an MS Word document with content cut and pasted from a live website
  • just the URL to the website

Nine times out of ten, there’s a more cost-effective and efficient approach …

➤ Why is the client sending a PDF? Because their designer created the document in Adobe InDesign (or something similar), which no one has except the designer (and me). That’s why everyone else is passing the document around as a PDF file. Give me the Adobe InDesign *.indd file (and a few other bits and pieces) and I’ll slash your turnaround times.

➤ Why an MS Word document? Because they aren’t aware of the content translation options available within most commonly available content management systems (CMS). But 10 out of 10 for effort – copying and pasting the ‘visible’ content. Pssst! There’s a whole lot more ‘invisible’ content under the website’s bonnet (or ‘hood’ for the US English speakers among you) that’s missing when they take this approach. Give me editorial access to your CMS and I’ll streamline your translation process.

➤ Why just a URL? Because they really haven’t got a clue how to get their website translated and there’s too much to cut and paste into a Word document. In which case, we really need to talk!

Show me yours and I’ll show you mine

Show me your content creation process and I’ll show you my approach to saving you time and money. But let’s just do coffee first and take things one step at a time before becoming ‘partners’!

Where in your company’s English content creation and editorial review process is your professional, native‑English‑speaking editor?

Red ink

Before I hazard a guess at a few plausible answers to this question, allow me to clarify some of the terms I just used in the title, with a little help from the folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary:

  • professional – engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.
  • native – (of a quality) belonging to a person’s character from birth; innate.
  • editor – a person who is in charge of and determines the final content of a newspaper, magazine, publication, etc.

So, no! Not your English co-worker who – despite being a native speaker – doesn’t know the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’. And no, not Kees, your next-door neighbour’s son who just interned in the US for the summer. Nor Marijke! And yes, I know she recently got a ‘9’ for HAVO English.

Sadly, within many Dutch companies, the answer is – nowhere.

Because, as we all know, the Dutch are born speaking and writing English fluently – at a level way higher than that attainable by native English speakers and at an even higher level than they’re able to achieve in their own language (Dutch for those who had forgotten). They hire native Dutch copywriters and editors to create their Dutch content for them. A professional, native-English-speaking editor simply isn’t needed!

Joking aside – even if a professional, native English linguist has been involved somewhere along the way (perhaps the translator of an article), I read so many articles where it’s painfully obvious that a non-native editor has subsequently ‘edited’ the once-native English into oblivion.

So, the correct answer should be – at the very end of the review process. Even better, at every stage of the process. But I realise that this may be a tad unrealistic, except if you hire (shameless self-promotion). I’m a professional, native English linguist and even I use a professional, native-English-speaking editor!

But seriously, whether you hire me or not, there’s no shortage of professional, native-English-speaking editors out there dotted around the Netherlands.

Use one – in the right place!