Which “other industries” do not depend on accurate translation?
–A patent document, on which multi-million dollar lawsuits could hinge (independent of contracts)?
–A scientific paper, which will determine how millions of dollars are invested in basic or applied research or in some technical program?
–A medical report, which will determine how a doctor treats a person, maybe meaning the difference between life and death, or at least good health and poor?
–A business letter, which, being poorly translated, causes the receiver to lose confidence in the abilities and professionalism of the sender – while not a direct monetary loss, these little impressions add up, and could cost thousands in lost business opportunities.
I don’t think being a lawyer is what makes a person’s translations more valuable. (Indeed, being a lawyer, doctor, etc. doesn’t automatically make you a good translator in that field). Witness this sentence (please make small children leave the room first):
"After approaching the lesion, one extirpates the degenerated and necrotic zones of the tendon and one applies the scarring according to the habitual technique. "
This was just one of hundreds of such examples in a paper I “edited” (actually retranslated) this weekend. It was translated from Spanish (not a big stretch for most people, being a friendly, alphabetic, well-documented and straightforward language) by a native English speaking M.D. However, further research on the internet revealed that, well, he claims to be native in both English and French, and, well, he is an MD but he’s a psychiatrist, and, well, he went to medical school in Europe, and well, that school was French-speaking, and, well, it was at least 30 years ago.
So, although I’m not a physician, because I know how to research and am familiar with medical writing style, and have the good sense to ask about things I’m not sure about, I’ll produce a much better translation of that paper than the person one would expect to be an “expert”.
You can just never tell. But the more stuff I see on the market, the less embarassed I am for keeping my prices where they are, or even thinking seriously about raising them.