Every person has their own unique fingerprints – even identical twins do not share the same prints. Interestingly, when it comes to professional translation, it is possible to build up another kind of fingerprint – one that marks a translation out as having been undertaken by a particular individual.
So how precisely does one leave one’s finger print on a translation?
Firstly, much of it is about linguistics, as one might expect given the nature of the work. Language can be a tricky beast and many words have more than one possible meaning or nuance. Thus no two translators are likely to translate a text in exactly the same way. One might use ‘will’ while the other uses ‘shall,’ one might use commas more extensively and one might favour lowercase subheadings while another prefers title case.
It is this combination of unconscious linguistic choices and subtleties that will form the basis of an individual’s translation fingerprint, with his or her particular style differing subtly yet distinctly from those of fellow translators.
Language choices and phraseology are perhaps the most obvious ways in which an individual applies his or her stamp to a translation, but attitude and approach can certainly play a part to. Professional translators who focus intently on the quality of their work, competitive pricing and timeliness of delivery will set themselves apart from the crowd and garner a reputation for their first-class service.
Clients will know that their translation is in good hands once it has been given to an individual who focuses on these key qualities. Thus this approach and level of service becomes part of a translator’s fingerprint as well.
Translations that are being provided as pure text, i.e. without desktop publishing forming part of the service, also demonstrate a translator’s fingerprint. Everyone has their own preferred font, line spacing setting, margin widths, footer and header sizes and so forth. The combination of these becomes part of a person’s distinctive word processing style and thus part of their translation fingerprint.
Another interesting way in which you can influence your translation fingerprint is to add something personalised to each translation.
It could be a certificate of translation accuracy that you have created as confirmation of the quality of your work, or a discount offer for the client’s next translation job when you email him the completed copy. Whatever you choose, it will make your translation stand out from the crowd and ensure that it is uniquely identifiable as your own work by adding a little of your personality to your work.
The bottom line
While formatting and approach are part of a translator’s fingerprint, language will always be the easiest way to distinguish between the work of one professional and that of another. Favourite words, turns of phrase, choices such as ‘do you’ or ‘does one’ – like in the first paragraph of this article – all combine to create a unique and identifiable fingerprint that is as hard for a translator to escape from as their actual fingerprints.
What sets your translation fingerprint apart from others? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment in the box.