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How Should Communication Be Facilitated in the Translation Industry?

Good communication is vital to the success of any company in any industry, especially in today’s globalized world. Additionally, it is the role of the company to establish certain guidelines and ways through which employees may communicate with their co-workers and which are in line with the company’s goals and needs. However, translation companies differ from other types of companies principally because much of their work is performed by freelancers, who do not work as full-time employees in the company’s offices and who are often located in completely different countries. As a result, the bulk of the company’s linguists are located in conflicting time zones and work under vastly different conditions. Due to these differences, translation companies are confronted with a unique challenge of how to facilitate communication among linguists working on a certain project. Depending on the project, it may sometimes be necessary for the linguists to be in direct communication, although in other cases it may not be appropriate. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.


When the linguists collaborating on a project are allowed to work together directly, i.e., they have each other’s contact information, such as name, E-mail/IM addresses, phone numbers, etc., they are able to consult each other easily and directly regarding terminology and style, among other aspects of the translation. Specifically, this makes the editor’s job (see blog post The Differing Roles of the Translator and the Editor) a bit easier when he or she can ask the translator about certain word choices regarding terminology. This also improves consistency in style. Also, when the linguists are able to work together directly, it can lessen the work of the translation agency, as it removes the need to facilitate communication among the two or more people working on the project.


However, as information is always more or less sensitive, it is not always appropriate for the linguists to be in direct contact. Firstly, it could promote informal communication between the linguists that is outside the control of the company. While this can also be positive and serve to strengthen the team, it can cause several problems, such as: reckless management of sensitive information; promoting conversation that is not related to the task at hand, including gossip, and lessening the company’s intermediary role and ability to effectively manage the project. Therefore, often times, it is more appropriate for the translation company to actively facilitate communication between linguists collaborating on a translation project.

A possible solution to the disadvantages of direct communication is the creation of an online platform that allows linguists to communicate in a controlled and professional setting. This would allow for many of the advantages of this type of communication to be taken advantage of during the project, effectively enhancing overall quality. In the absence of such a platform, an effective communication policy will suffice.