"25 things translators should never do"

I recently read an interesting blog article citing “25 things translators should never do”. Whilst a company’s employees may have a contract or be given guidance by fellow employees or their boss, freelance translators trust their opinion, instinct, business acumen, or all of the above, in order to decide how to behave. This raises the question as to whether these ideas vary greatly between translators, whether there are any generally accepted rules, and how clients view different behaviour.

Some of the 25 suggestions listed may seem quite obvious, yet necessary, such as “Never forget to thank the client for requesting a quote” and “never promise a deadline you know you can’t meet” (“please!” comes the pleading cry from us project managers!).

The list seems to be well thought out and  comprehensive, with good ideas and advice that could help establish honest, productive working relationships between translators and clients. The author looks at not irritating the client, with suggestions such as: “Never contact the client the first time you come across a discrepancy in the source file” and “Never barrage your client with petty questions, like “Which do you prefer, “AM” or “A.M.”?”, as well as suggesting that they “show respect for” the “client’s knowledge of their industry”. Some of these tips would certainly make a Project Manager’s life easier!

He encourages translators to stand firm and be proud of the work they complete: “Never let the client intimidate you into changing a translation you know is correct. Offer to consult a colleague regarding the proposed changes” but also to take into account that a second opinion is valuable: “Never forget that human translation is an organic product. Be open to reviewing completed translations, be willing to admit mistakes, and be prepared to defend yourself with solid resources beyond, “I’ve been doing this a long time.” You may have been doing it wrong for a long time”.

We would love to hear your opinions, as translators, and clients alike, regarding what a translator should never do. Are there practices you rigorously follow? Have you learnt from previous mistakes? Are there things that would put you off working with particular translators in the future? Can some actions be more detrimental to a business relationship than others? Let us know your thoughts!

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