Client Question: What If Translation Is Deemed “Unusable?”

Here’s a question we recently received from a prospective new client. Our response follows.

Question & AnswerClient Question: What happens in the event that our European office says that a translation is un-usable?

  • Would that be something you would attempt to re-translate?
  • If re-translated, would that be our expense?


Affinity Answer: If a third party deemed a translation “un-usable” it would be an unprecedented event in our company’s experience. It might also be a less than constructive criticism. If such feedback was ever received we’d probably ask for clarification, more specific information.

What’s more likely is that a given third party reviewer might notice deviation from their personal language preferences (e.g., translation of terms, phases, etc.). These sorts of things are seldom translation errors, and should be expected.

There is typically no single correct translation to the exclusion of others. A translation project assigned to 10 different translators might produce 10 somewhat different translations, all correct. Synonyms, alternate expression and approaches exist and are valid. There is subjectivity in the translation process which cannot be removed entirely. So generally we leave subjective determinations to professional linguists who are skilled in such things.

Translation clients therefore pay for the professional judgment of translators. Translators are not expected to conform to the unknown subjective language preferences of a third party reviewer (nor is it even possible). If an error or deviation from a client provided glossary should occur despite our best efforts then we would correct it without charge.