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Cost saving tips, Part II: Communication, communication…

What could there be to talk about with my translator? And how could this possibly save me any money at all? There is actually more to this topic than you might think…

This article is a part of our savings series. In its first part, we talked about quality – if you missed it, check it out here.

Why talk to my translator?

If you think about various texts and why they are written the way they are, you will realise that every text serves a certain purpose and every text has an intended addressee. These two aspects then define the text as a whole – the structure, the word choices, the tone.

This is true both of original texts and translations. But sometimes the original and the translation are not supposed to serve the same purpose and, more often than not, the translation is also speaking to a different audience than the original. The translator’s job is to make sure that the translation serves the intended purpose with regard to your intended audience and they can’t do it without having the relevant information.


You are having a real estate advertisement translated. The purpose of the original is to convince a certain group of people that they want to buy the real estate. The translation may be intended as an advertisement too and to function properly in a different country, the translator may suggest changing some aspects to appeal to the audience in the target country (i.e. “localize it”). Without these changes, the advertisement will no longer perform its function.

However, you might also be ordering the translation to submit it as evidence in court proceedings. In that case, any change to the original text could be a serious problem.

Or you might need it just to keep your clients updated, which might again have certain implications for the translation. And the list goes on.

This is a nice little theory, but how does it save me any money?

When ordering a translation, you have a purpose for it in mind. You have your audience. If your translation misses this, you will either end up making a lot of effort trying to fix something that could have been done right in the first place, or your text will ultimately fail to fulfil its purpose, which is an even worse waste of resources. Especially since it can be so easily avoided.

What does the translator need to know?

Here is a simple list of questions you might want to discuss, but don’t be afraid to share anything you consider important:

  • Why is the text important for you?
  • Who is the text addressed to?
  • Where/how will the text be communicated to the audience?
  • Do you have any particular wishes as to how something should be translated? (for example, think about any other material this text is connected to – consistency might be crucial)

I hope this will help you communicating with your translator and I am looking forward to sharing the last part of our saving tips series next time – we will be talking about Time Management.