November 23, 2021
Maria Joaquina Marques

One of the most common answers given by translators when someone asks them the translation of a term or a sentence is: “It depends on the context” or “What is the context?” All translations are based on a source text that is written for a given audience with the purpose of disclosing a topic, a product or a service. With a few exceptions in which, in fact, the context does not exist and the translator only receives “loose” terms, the context is crucial for the translation to be trustworthy in all its aspects.

Clients are not always aware of the importance of context for the translator, which makes the translation process longer than necessary, since the translator will be forced to ask questions all the time. This ends up being harmful for both the client and the translator, since the client will have to pay for this extra time and the translator takes longer on a project, making them, for example, reject others. This can be avoided for both parties if the client, as soon as they award the translation, delivers all the materials to the translator and explains the product or service, its purpose and the target audience.

Although a client may argue that they cannot reveal all the information due to data protection or confidentiality agreements, it will be important for them to understand that the translator is their partner and that it pays to have them up to date with everything that is related to the project, because if a translator is not fully aware of what they are going to translate, or if the supporting documents the clients provide are not enough, the final product will always fall short, even if the translators do their best and the required research. Thus, it is up to the translators to show the client the importance of receiving as much information as possible about a project, and clients should make a greater effort to provide all the tools and documentation required for a good translation. The saying goes that “time is money”, so the more knowledge the translator has about the project, the less time they will waste on research and the faster they will have the translation ready to deliver to the client.