Who's the translator?
Who's the translator? In contrast to all common beliefs, "speaking" a foreign language is not enough to be a translator, even less when it comes to being a good translator. This job often demands an in-depth knowledge of technical subjects or sectors, that have nothing in common with a linguist's academic curriculum. It requires the use of up to date software, the ability to understand the client's needs and the needs of the final reader. it comes without saying that a good translator works with a few languages (not dozens) has a few specializations (not hundreds of them), some sectors he/she knows well and others he has no clues on, since the translator is not, as it may appear, omniscient. When translator refuse job because they are not familiar with the subject, they are not unprofessional: on the contrary, they are doing you a favour!
Moreover, professional translators are reasonably computer literate and use tools that make their translation job easier. They do NOT use machine translation randomly found while browsing the Net just to pass the client a semi-italianized text and, as a rule, good translators do not fall from cloud nine if you mention html or .pdf, but this does NOT mean that your translator is an IT engineer, a webmaster or a typographer!!!
The translator is a researcher, a mediator (sometimes even a little bit of a flatterer), a technician of words, a chiseler of sentences and sometimes even a psychologist.
What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
Let's try to be clear. The work of an interpreter and that of a translator, even if sometimes they me be performed by the same person, are technically different. translation concerns a written text, interpreting concerns spoken ones and is done "on the spot" during a speech or immediately afterwards, with particular note-taking techniques (nothing to do with stenography!) or special equipment. Some sectors, such as dubbing or voice-over and other types of media-interpreting, are a sort of mix of this two procedures.
Translation Software? Than computers do the job for you!
Not really. The computer is a tool to speed up and make the job much easier, but it cannot substitute the human intelligence and sensibility. Translation software helps enhancing coherence and cohesion and to maintain the layout of a text.
Is a CAT tool like machine translation?
Not at all. CAT (Computer assisted translation) Software allow managing glossaries, repetitions, client terminology integration, etc.. Machine translation is based on software substituting a word in a given language with a corresponding word in another language. The best way to understand if you would better need a "human" translator is to give machine translation a try and have a look at the result.
How do I calculate the cost of a translation?
In Italy translation services are usually charged on a per page basis on the source or target text, according to "preferences". Not everyone agrees on what actually is a page, how many bits/characters it is made of, and how to calculate it. I use a standard 1500 characters page, spaces includes, calculated on the source text if I have it in electronic format, or target text if I only have it on paper. The price per page can be easily converted in a per line, word or character rate. Additional services such as formatting, sworn translation, transcription, proofreading, revision or summary are charged as a percentage that is added over the translation rate.
And what about interpreting?
When considering interpreting costs it is important to consider the different kind of service. As a general rule, interpreting services are charged on a per day basis (seven hours working day) or on a hourly bass (if the job does not reach 3 hours). Travel and boarding costs are at the client's expenses.
What will I find on the invoice?
The invoice of an Italian translator to a customer outside Italy will be VAT-free and will therefore contain the indication of the relevant reference law.
Which is the best format for sending you a text for translation?
The best solution would be to provide an electronic, editable version of the document, either in word, rtf, pdf (not image). If the documents contains pictures, it is good practice to send them together with the text of your translation. Avoid sending encrypted or protected files...and, above all, please scan the document for viruses!!! If you send the translation per fax or post, try and provide readable material, especially for handwritten documents or texts in small print, and check that it reaches the translator in good state and complete!