News and ideas

Working in the dark: why working with direct clients makes my life easier


A translator’s typical day is filled with one recurring, haunting question: “What is the context?”.

But how does that concern you as a client? For the sake of brevity: your choice of provider has a huge impact on the translator’s access to that context. And without that context, it is virtually impossible to translate most texts adequately.

A series of different factors contribute to making interpretation difficult. This article discusses two types of issues, which could be coined technical and organizational. They are, however, related.

To start with, many texts cannot make sense without the other elements that accompany them. The most common example is visual content, (e.g. pictures or graphs). As we know, visual content is very common in business documents. It is even the very essence of PowerPoint presentations.

Now, making sense of the text by looking at this visual content seems an easy, natural way to solve the problem, and I couldn’t agree more. But this is where things can get complex. When a client sends the PowerPoint presentation they created, it’s all good: I can elect either to translate directly into it, or to run it through my Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tool (see image below), and keep the original file for visual reference.