“You’ve just missed a job opportunity”

The young man looked sincerely disappointed as he told me this. We were drinking a pint with other people after having danced our hearts out at the Beiaard bal (a nice opportunity to practise Dutch and learn folk dances at the same time). We had started talking; he was looking for a translator. To his surprise, I, a freelancer, turned down an opportunity to work for him, a direct client.

He wanted a Dutch to English translation. In the biomedical field. For a text he’d written.

He had just obtained his PhD, just to give an idea of his level.

Never have I been so relieved to turn down a job opportunity.

He then complained that previous translations he had got were lousy.

« This is not supposed to happen » I said. « Translators are supposed to be knowledgeable about their field. »

« Yes, but how can you choose a translator when all you have is a phone book and a list of names? » He replied.

« Many translators have websites, where they list their specific skills and language pairs. » I said « And there is a new network called The Research Cooperative designed to bring researchers and translators together. You need a specialised translator, and you might just find the right one here. »

It always surprises me how little people know about translation and freelancing . Informing them offers mutual benefits: first, for you as a translator — even if they are not looking for someone with your skillset you come across as helpful, and they might pass on your name to somebody else — but mostly for them. It helps them select the right LSP.

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