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In my experience, those of us translators who work for translation agencies, as opposed to direct clients, rarely get a chance to work with an editor. That is why I appreciate one particular agency for which I translate scientific journal articles regularly.
This agency is unique in that it encourages the editor and translator to collaborate. As a result, each project I translate for them becomes an opportunity to get feedback and practice communication, but I had to get past my insecurity and pride to understand that.
Take it from me, fellow medical translator, if you ever get a chance to collaborate with an editor like this, don’t let your ego get in the way. Please take advantage of the situation, and your work will improve as a result.
At first, this translation agency’s process made me anxious. Accepting a project from them,would turn the volume up on a prideful voice saying that I provided perfect translations and didn’t need feedback. Seeing the edits, an insecure voice would also pipe up, saying “You suck, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
At first, I submitted my work to the editor assigned to the project with my fingers crossed that he/she would understand all of my choices. After a few jobs, I noticed a pattern. The editor would catch my trouble spots and explain how to improve them or why they were trouble spots in the first place (scientists/doctors are not usually great writers and write difficult-to-translate articles).
Then, I realized two things. One, the editor wasn't critical. He/she just wanted to help. Two, he/she would always catch my mistakes. So, I decided to be proactive and point to the problem areas in my translation by using comments in Word.
My comments provide an explanation about my choice and maybe a website reference, thereby giving the editor some context to take into account. Oh, and, of course, I boldly ask for the editor’s opinion. It turns out that this, unexpectedly, generates dialogue between us, and I end up with detailed feedback. The editor also appreciates it because he/she can quickly zero in on tricky spots in the source.
So, you see, I figured this out only by turning the volume down on my ego and admitting that my translation was imperfect, then using a little confidence to open up a discussion that would help me improve my work in the future.
For example, atteinte
Just this week, I incorrectly translated atteinte, a tricky word that has multiple translations in English. I have to choose the best one based on the context of the disease or disorder being discussed. In this case, I translated it as impairment, but the editor had changed every instance to involvement. So, I told her that this word had caused me trouble in the past and that I was hoping she could provide some clarification. Why did she change it? Sure enough, she was happy to help, and I have a better understanding of this concept now.