What makes a good translation partner?

Moses holding up two halves of a stone tablet containing five commandments each

As well as being punctual, reliable and easy to work with – after all, no one likes a prima donna! – the following points are top of my list:

  • Writing skills are the number one priority: Translators need to have the same writing skills as journalists and other professional scribes. When recruiting fellow translators for larger projects, the first thing I look at is whether they can write elegant, natural English. If they can’t, I’ll look for someone who can.
  • Cultural awareness: Translators should of course have an excellent command of their source languages, but they also need to be intimately familiar with the relevant cultures. If they aren’t, any cultural subtleties woven into a text will have unravelled long before they ever reach the target audience.
  • Never trust a translator who doesn’t ask questions: It’s not unusual for translators to encounter sloppy, ambiguous wording in their source texts. In such cases, amateurs tend to guess and hope for the best. Professionals ask questions.
  • Translators should see themselves as partners: This means looking out for their customers’ interests beyond the translations themselves. For instance, by drawing their attention to typos, inaccuracies, copyright issues and potentially offensive terms in source texts. And by using the modern miracle of full stops to break up unwieldy sentences into a couple of bite-sized ones.
  • Good translators know their limitations: While perfectly at home in my own spheres of expertise, I will always turn down translation work in areas that are well beyond my understanding. Such as medicine, nuclear physics and mechanical engineering. And reality TV.
A few words from my customers
  • Ian has been one of my most trusted partners for English translations since 2008. With his strong business and financial background, he is always an ideal choice when it comes to translating reports, contracts, presentations and minutes for my main interpreting customers.
    Logo of semantica interpreting services company
    Angela Sanchez
  • As we serve customers all over the world, we decided to hire a copywriter to write all of our press releases and new website content in English directly. Ian came highly recommended – and sees to all our translation needs as well!
    Jan Lepold
    Orchestral Tools
  • Whenever I add new products to my range, I get Ian to write the descriptions. His writing has a lightness of touch that fits perfectly with my range of personalised gifts.
    Ruth Wallington
  • We are well aware of the importance of clear, compelling communication in our international social media and public relations activities. This is why we send all our content to Ian for translation and revision.
    Dr Ina Werxhausen
    Director Sustainability & Corporate Communication
  • Ever since I first worked with Ian in 2019, he has been my translator of choice for everything I publish in English. As well as taking great care and precision in his work, he is well attuned to the nuances and subtleties that are the hallmarks of a superior art translation.
    Photo of the face of Dr. Anne Schloen
    Dr Anne Schloen
    Author and art historian
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram