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Co-operation and un-co-operation

I have been doing some work, through an agency, for a very big and well-known German industrial company – let’s call them GIC. This has not always been easy, as the company has very specific ideas about the vocabulary it wants to use, and is very particular about sticking to their terminology. This is, of course, a good thing – only too many people give no thought at all to the possibility that their texts might one day need to be translated. “Authoring for translation” is one of those ideas that often escapes writers altogether, or else is seen as an idealistic waste of time – after all, one might think, why do we pay translators if not to solve the problems of translation? It can take a lot of experience before people realise that “authoring for translation” can save a great deal of time, trouble and money in the long run, and can bring a far superior result. I hardly need to point out that a superior translation may well convert into superior sales figures.

On the other hand, I have known companies who have at least invested the necessary effort in the preparation of preferred vocabulary lists, and who are keen to provide translators with access to these lists and to ensure that they are used to bring more consistent results. I should stress that this is only a tiny part of “authoring for translation”, but it is certainly a positive step even if it is only a small one.

After some repeated difficulty with GIC, I pointed out to them that if they have a preferred vocabulary list, and if they want me to use it, perhaps they could give me, their translator, access to it. You can perhaps imagine my disappointment when, instead of the large Excel file that I expected, I was told where I can buy their dictionary. Hmmm.

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