There are probably not many translators out there who remember when the world of translation was a lonely place indeed; when the only communication a translator had with another translator was either in person or over the phone.
The World of Translation Is an Entirely Different World Today
Then came the Foreign Language Education Forum (FLEFO) which provided translators with instant access to their colleagues, across national borders and across oceans; followed by the newsgroup sci.lang.translation and the mailing list Lantra-L. Fortunately, today, translators are linked via mailing lists, numerous websites, and social networking sites. Having this wide variety of tools allows translators to, not only exchange experiences and information about certain clients but to consult translators all over the world about an idiom or a certain technical term. Now, translators are available to their colleagues to both offer and receive advice from other colleagues on how to handle translation problems and other business situations.
Services Available to Translators
In the past, translators were on their own when it came to clients who refused to pay for completed translation projects, but today there are facilities and sites dedicated solely to defending the business interests of translators, regardless of their specialization or their language combination. And, of course, there are dozens of mailing lists catering to translators working in certain areas of expertise (medicine, law, patents, and so on) and in certain languages. Payment Practices has become a lifesaver to many translators, and client rating sites such as the Translator Client Review List and ProZ can be used for both denouncing a client who’s reneged on paying for services completed or for obtaining information about a specific client prior to accepting a translation project.
All Power to Translators – Worldwide!
One cannot overestimate the power this gives the tens of thousands of translators worldwide, in being able to communicate with each other, to exchange valuable information, and being able to act on this information by deciding how to deal with a certain client. A translator located in Thailand could well be offered a translation project from France, but refuse the job simply because they consulted Payment Practices and discovered that a translation colleague based in Argentina recently had a negative experience with that client! And isn’t that the great thing of globalization!
Because we now have access to the internet (and thus the world), any company or individual who mistreats a translator or fails to pay for services rendered can’t expect to stay in business for very long. Today, clients aren’t simply dealing with an individual translator – they’re dealing with the global translation community, and this community is linked electronically and thus capable of exchanging information within seconds.
So, if you’re a professional translator and you’ve yet to make yourself aware of these invaluable services, then you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage in the business world because today’s business world is the world that ignores distance and national borders.