Welcoming the Wake-up Call

I recently had the great opportunity to attend Chris Durban’s presentation as part of the first edition of the “One Day in…” event organised by the ITI in the prestigious venue of Gray’s Inn in London last month. Chris Durban is a French to English translator based in Paris specialising in business and finance. She is the author of The Prosperous Translator and co-author of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know. She is a popular speaker at translation conferences and is well known for giving business advice to translators.

Chris started her presentation by giving a brief overview of the potential impact errors found in our translations may have. Not only can they be costly to the client, but they can also damage a translator’s reputation.

Errors generally occur when the syntax of the source text is followed too closely. To avoid this, Chris Durban recommends working with a reviser. If the feedback received is negative, it should work as a wake-up call.

According to Chris Durban, a reviser almost always improves your work and as a result, your translations improve over time. The translator should therefore always be able to see the reviser’s corrections and comments.

Translators who revise each other’s work can build on each other’s strengths, improve their translation skills, provide better translations and attract better clients.

Chris Durban carried on by going through the process of revising a translation for a client (“Could you take a quick look?”), as opposed to revising a colleague’s piece of work (“Could you revise me?”). In this case, she recommends the following:

  • Specify how much time the revision will take.
  • Set the scene for a positive response to your revision quote (add a positive note).
  • Do not charge per word: you are selling your time.


She proceeded to show some examples of revisions made to translations that already seemed “good enough” (but what is “good enough”…?). For each text, the reviser added flow, energy and clarity. A hint of advice for revisers from Chris:


  • Always include a positive note when giving feedback to either a client or a translator.
  • Make your changes easy to understand.
  • Use your time well.
  • Demonstrate your expertise.

To conclude, Chris Durban advises working with someone you can trust and who is a native speaker of your target language. This person should be rigorous and have an eye for detail. Working with a reviser adds value and provides clients with a better end result. As Chris said: “two eyes are good, four eyes are better”.

By Claire Sjaarda

Photo by Claire Sjaarda

Comments are closed.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑