What’s New on the Business Practices List—Confidentiality and Revision

By David Friedman

confidential-264516_1280Confidentiality is not something that you can afford to take for granted in today’s digital world, where devastating disclosures of trade secrets can occur in the blink of an eye. You have to use your best judgment to determine what degree of confidentiality the documents you are translating need to be treated with in many cases if this is not explicitly spelled out to you. Below is some guidance from the ATA to help you with that.

Point 2 of the ATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice is “to hold in confidence any privileged and/or confidential information entrusted to us in the course of our work.” The commentary on this code elaborates further on this, “It goes without saying that translators and interpreters adhere to all existing  international, federal, or state laws or acts concerning confidentiality (for example, HIPAA in the medical arena).” So we need to be aware of and comply with legislation on various levels.

Another aspect of confidentiality is how obvious it may or may not be that something is confidential information. Here is an example of a less obvious case from the commentary: “Consider the case of a company needing translations of already published marketing materials to help weigh the possibility of entering a new and competitive market. If a competitor were to learn that this material is being translated, they would realize that the company is preparing to compete in that market.”

See the discussion on the Business Practices List and read the full commentary if you want to learn more. You can also feel free to start a discussion as a comment to this blog post if you would like.

The subject of revision is something that I have personally been thinking about a lot lately, and I was grateful to have some of my questions about it answered on the BP List. I have begun to appreciate the value of revision more recently, as I have had more direct clients and gotten the chance to work very closely with a couple of different partners revising my work and serving as the reviser myself.

With the encouragement of several colleagues from the BP List, I can now more than ever consciously affirm my belief that thorough revision is indispensable. And when I am talking about revision, I am not talking about a quick simple proofreading only designed to catch typos, omissions, etc. Here is an example of what I tell my revisers when sending them one of my translations, especially for things like marketing texts/web copy: “Please change anything and everything you like in tracked changes to create the best text possible so that you can’t tell it is translated; please address my comments, please leave comments, and call me if you are not sure about anything.”

I consider it priceless to be able to discuss the best word to use in a certain sentence to make it flow better, to be able to ask “does this sound strange/sound like Swinglish/Denglish?”, and to be able to put our heads together to find the best solution. In other words, it is not necessarily just about seeking to produce a correct translation (although that is of course a part of it) but also to produce a good translation that reads well and leaves the desired impression on the reader. Although this is especially relevant for the types of texts I translate (such as web copy and corporate communications), I believe that a second set of eyes can almost always come up with a better way of saying something and find things to improve in translations.

ISO 17100 is a new translation industry standard in the works that is set to have stricter revision requirements. At the ATA Conference, check out session TIP-5 on Friday November 7 at 11:30am, “Recent Developments in Translation-Related ISO Standards” if you are interested in learning more about it. You can also check out Session T-1, titled “Revision: Necessary Evil or Added Value?” on Thursday from 11:00am to 12:00pm and follow the discussion on the BP List. And, of course, tell us what you think of revision by commenting on this blog post!

————————
About the author: After being born and raised in South Florida, David Friedman moved to Sweden in 2006, studied German at Lund University, and has been translating full time since 2009. He specializes in translating corporate communications from Swedish and German to English. David is the founder of a local network of translators in Sweden called Lund Translation Team. He is a member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (SFÖ) and has been serving as the coordinator of SFÖ’s activities for translators in southern Sweden since the spring of 2014.

Don’t miss out on one of the ATA’s most valuable resources—The Business Practices List

By David Friedman

speech-bubbles-303206_1280The ATA Business Practices Listserv (BP List) has without a doubt been the best thing about my ATA membership. The discussions on it range from advice on how to deal with contract clauses and how to vet clients to the differences between the bulk market and the premium market. It’s a place where all translators, regardless of experience, can give and receive advice and contribute to the discussions that define our industry.

One of the things that really piqued my interest when I first joined the BP List was that people I already admired as authorities in the translation industry, after having read their publications, like Chris Durbin and Robin Bonthrone, seemed to be very active on the list. I didn’t expect to be participating in discussions with them and getting their answers to questions I had right off the bat after joining the ATA and the BP List.

The types of advice you can get on the BP List include a better understanding of the translation markets, how to approach/deal with different types of clients, and how to take advantage of specializing in specific industries. There all topics often broached on the BP List and in publications such as The Prosperous Translator and The Entrepreneurial Linguist, and I feel that they can make a huge impact in the early stages of one’s translation career.

Because discussions on the BP List are not accessible to non-members, discussions can be very frank and sometimes even a bit heated, but the beauty of this is that everyone still tends to get along well—even right after passionately arguing opposing sides of a debate. The moderators are also good about intervening if something goes against list policy or gets too acrimonious.

One of the recent discussions which I personally felt was very interesting was on the differences between the premium and bulk markets. The lines may not be definitively drawn, but if we generalize a bit, we can identify the following typical characteristics of the two markets just to give you an idea of what they mean to the people on the BP list:

Bulk market

  • high-volume work at lower rates
  • less time spent on other aspects of the business apart from the actual translation
  • often associated with certain large translation agencies and machine translation/post editing
  • falling rates

Premium market

  • often associated with direct clients, but also certain premium translation agencies
  • rising rates
  • high demand for translators specialized in specific industries
  • more time spent on business activities (e.g. marketing and client relationships)

This is just a very generalized overview. To learn more, take a look at the following blog posts on the subject:  It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times: How the Premium Market Offers Translators Prosperity in an Era of Collapsing Bulk-Market Rates by Kevin Hendzel,  Post-slavery bondage and poverty by Kevin Lossner, and The Translation Market – Is it Really Understood? by Kirti Vashee. And, of course, join the ATA Business Practices Listserv.

In some cases, discussions that originated on the BP List have led to public blog posts and discussions (see links above), newspaper articles, and other forms of public debate. If you join the BP List, you can see the impact of these discussions for yourself, as the public discussions are often posted back to the list.

In early 2013, after I read The Prosperous Translator, The Entrepreneurial Linguist and other translation publications, combined with insights gained from the BP List and lots of in-person discussions at translation conferences and other translation events, I noticed that my translation career took a significant turn for the better. This shift, which enabled me to become more active in planning the next steps in my career, led me to get some clients of my own and the average amount I make per hour has steadily increased ever since.

I see this as only the beginning of a lifelong career journey and a taste of the opportunities out there, so I’ll have my eyes peeled on the BP List going forward as I try to keep moving forward to meet my career goals.
—————————–
About the author: After being born and raised in South Florida, David Friedman moved to Sweden in 2006, studied German at Lund University, and has been translating full time since 2009. He specializes in translating corporate communications from Swedish and German to English. David is the founder of a local network of translators in Sweden called Lund Translation Team. He is a member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (SFÖ) and has been serving as the coordinator of SFÖ’s activities for translators in southern Sweden since the spring of 2014.