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But the text is not the only important element of reliability for the user; the translator too must be reliable. Notice that this list is closely related to the traditional demand that the translator be “accurate,” and indeed contains that demand within it, under “Attention to detail,” but that it is a much more demanding conception of reliability than merely the expectation that the translator’s work be “correct.” The best synonym for the translator’s reliability would not be “correctness” but “professionalism”: the reliable translator in every way comports himself or herself like a professional.
A client that asks for a summary and receives a “correct” or “faithful” translation will not call the translator reliable — in fact will probably not call the translator ever again. A sensitive and versatile translator will recognize when a given task requires something besides straight “accuracy” — various forms of summary or commentary or adaptation, various kinds of imaginative re-creation — and, if the client has not made these instructions explicit, will confirm this hunch before beginning work.
Aspects of translator reliability
Reliability with regard to the text
1.Attention to detail
The translator is meticulous in her attention to the contextual and collocational
nuances of each word and phrase she uses.
2. Sensitivity to the user’s needs
The translator listens closely to the user’s special instructions regarding the type of
translation desired, understands those instructions quickly and fully, and strives to
carry them out exactly and flexibly.
The translator does not simply “work around” words she doesn’t know, by using
a vague phrase that avoids the problem or leaving a question mark where the
word would go, but does careful research, in reference books and Internet
databases, and through phone calls, faxes, and e-mail inquiries.
The translator checks her work closely, and if there is any doubt (as when she
translates into a foreign language) has a translation checked by an experf before
delivery to the client. (The translator also knows when there is any doubt.)
Reliability with regard to the client
The translator is versatile enough to translate texts outside her area of
specialization, out of languages she doesn’t feel entirely competent in (always
having such work checked, of course), in manners she has never tried. (The
translator also knows when she can handle a novel task and when something is
simply beyond her abilities and needs to be politely refused.)
The translator knows her own abilities and schedule and working habits well
enough to make realistic promises to clients or agencies regarding delivery dates
and times, and then keeps those promises; or, if pressing circumstances make it
impossible to meet a deadline, calls the client or agency and renegotiates the time
frame or arranges for someone else to finish the job.
The translator is friendly and helpful on the phone or in person, is pleasant to speak
or be with, has a sense of humor, offers helpful advice (such as who to call for that
one page of Estonian or Urdu), doesn’t offer unhelpful advice, etc.
The user’s view 13
The translator will not disclose confidential matters learned through the process
of translation (or negotiation) to third parties.
Reliability with regard to technology
9. Hardware and software
The translator owns a late-model computer, a recent version of Microsoft Word,
an Internet connection (preferably high-speed/broadband), an e-mail address,
and a fax machine, and either owns and uses regularly, or is prepared to
purchase and learn how to use, translation memory software specified by the
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