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My approach to translation and translation projects

Numer­ous deci­sions are tak­en in the course of pro­duc­ing cor­rect trans­la­tions that meet or sur­pass the expec­ta­tions of clients, authors and read­ers. In the final analy­sis, what mat­ters most may be the out­come of these deci­sions – but the qual­i­ty of trans­la­tion ser­vices can also be mea­sured in terms of the process: as well as being faith­ful to texts, trans­la­tors must be loy­al to peo­ple. This page focus­es on how I approach trans­la­tion projects as a free­lance trans­la­tor and proac­tive ser­vice provider. If this style of work­ing appeals to you, I look for­ward to hear­ing from you and dis­cov­er­ing more about your cur­rent or upcom­ing projects.

Solid processes for sparkling quality — the pillars of my approach

The points I pay care­ful atten­tion to in my work as a trans­la­tor and in my han­dling of trans­la­tion projects are detailed below.

Understanding precedes translation

I trans­late only texts I clear­ly com­pre­hend and can repro­duce coher­ent­ly. This implies:

  • that I need to have pri­or knowl­edge of the rel­e­vant spe­cial­ist sub­ject and a cer­tain affin­i­ty to the top­ic. Where I lack that back­ground, I will refer you on to a col­league
  • that I read texts thor­ough­ly and famil­iarise myself with their sub­ject mat­ter
  • and that I ask ques­tions.

By ensur­ing your con­tent reach­es your tar­get group intact and in a lucid form that is acces­si­ble to them, this approach makes sure your com­pe­tence shines through to your audi­ence.

Attractive target texts through translation into native language

I trans­late only from Ger­man into Eng­lish, my first lan­guage. In my native lan­guage, I can cre­ate mas­ter­ful texts and find ele­gant and pre­cise ways to express even ideas that have nev­er before been for­mu­lat­ed in Eng­lish and are new to the lan­guage itself as well as to the read­er. How­ev­er, I push at the bound­aries of lan­guage only when this is nec­es­sary – I nor­mal­ly respect them. I pay atten­tion to rules and com­ply with spec­i­fied style pref­er­ences.


Read­ing tru­ly read­able texts is not just easy, but also enjoy­able.

I also pay atten­tion to the medi­um in which a text will be trans­mit­ted. In spo­ken-word form, in print, or online? The dif­fer­ence is impor­tant.

State-of-the-art technology

I can take the time to work con­sci­en­tious­ly on your text and still deliv­er it punc­tu­al­ly and for a rea­son­able fee because I make effec­tive use of up-to-date tech­nolo­gies (such as Auto­Sug­gest dic­tio­nar­ies):


Embrac­ing mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy is all very well, but…

Thanks to cur­rent tech­nolo­gies, I can also:

  • han­dle a large num­ber of dif­fer­ent file for­mats beyond stan­dard office appli­ca­tions (from Adobe InDe­sign to XLIFF)
  • trans­late web pages effi­cient­ly, for exam­ple by using XLIFF or CSV files so that your web devel­op­er can export texts from the back­end of your con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem for trans­la­tion and then import the trans­la­tions with a min­i­mum of fuss and with­out los­ing meta­texts or for­mat­ting
  • record audio ver­sions of texts (such as speech­es or lec­tures to be giv­en in Eng­lish) so that you have a tem­plate for prac­tice

I reg­u­lar­ly take part in con­tin­u­ing pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment activ­i­ties and swap tips with col­leagues to ensure that my tech­ni­cal skills stay as sharp as my sub­ject-spe­cif­ic knowl­edge. And of course I also learn as I work.

Working in a network – independent but never isolated

As a pro­fes­sion­al free­lance trans­la­tor, I val­ue my auton­o­my but rarely work com­plete­ly alone: assis­tance from trust­ed and val­ued col­leagues is often only a click or phone call away, and I often col­lab­o­rate with review­ers or co-trans­la­tors, espe­cial­ly when time is of the essence.

Thorough translation and thoughtful collaboration

The trans­la­tion of com­plex texts is gen­er­al­ly a mul­ti-lay­ered process that can demand sta­mi­na and patience. It typ­i­cal­ly involves the fol­low­ing steps:

  • thor­ough ter­mi­nol­o­gy research and sys­tem­at­ic ter­mi­nol­o­gy man­age­ment
  • rough trans­la­tion and sub­se­quent revi­sion (texts express­ing com­plex ideas in com­plex lan­guage can ben­e­fit from a sec­ond pass)
  • con­sul­ta­tion with the author or client, if nec­es­sary, and/or with an exter­nal review­er
  • metic­u­lous final edit­ing
  • client approval, pos­si­bly dis­cus­sion of the final ver­sion of the trans­la­tion

This mul­ti-stage approach ensures that the tar­get text in Eng­lish is clear and read­able and com­mu­ni­cates the same con­tent as the source text in Ger­man. Thought­ful trans­la­tors may also spot addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve a text fur­ther by, for exam­ple:

  • updat­ing it (or at least iden­ti­fy­ing pas­sages that are no longer cur­rent and query­ing whether they are still required in order to speed up the trans­la­tion process and cut costs)
  • cor­rect­ing errors that may have crept into the text
  • iden­ti­fy­ing pos­si­ble edits (if a word or char­ac­ter lim­it applies to the final text)
  • adding detail or, occa­sion­al­ly, anno­ta­tions to the Eng­lish trans­la­tion (if the addi­tion of fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion referred to only oblique­ly in the Ger­man text makes the text more com­pre­hen­si­ble to read­ers beyond the imme­di­ate Ger­man-speak­ing world)
  • adapt­ing ref­er­ences and cita­tions (phras­es which seemed par­tic­u­lar­ly pithy and worth cit­ing as direct quotes in the source text might be bet­ter para­phrased in the Eng­lish trans­la­tion, and vice-ver­sa)

Such changes need to be made in close coop­er­a­tion with clients and/or authors. Sug­gest­ed changes must also be doc­u­ment­ed clear­ly so that they can be accept­ed or reject­ed in mul­ti­ple loca­tions in cur­rent and future doc­u­ments.

Reasonable and realistic pricing and delivery dates

I would be pleased to pre­pare an indi­vid­ual quote for your project. As a free­lance trans­la­tor, I can offer you straight­for­ward, direct and cost-effec­tive project han­dling. You can dis­cuss your require­ments with me per­son­al­ly, and I will respond to your queries fast and flex­i­bly.

For an even more fric­tion-free cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, try to inform me about your planned project at an ear­ly stage (even if the text is not avail­able in its final form at that point) and let me know if addi­tion­al ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al such as exist­ing trans­la­tions of sim­i­lar doc­u­ments can be made avail­able.

I look for­ward to hear­ing from you and dis­cov­er­ing more about your project! Feel free to con­tact me using the con­tact form below or direct­ly at sarah@s‑swift.de.