anarkyThe webinar I gave with James on websites for translators went really well yesterday, but at the end, I completely misunderstood a question and ended up giving Really Bad Advice. I was able to correct myself once I realised my mistake.
The question was: “If you’re not able to write perfectly in your second language, should you still write the copy for your website, knowing that it will contain a few mistakes?” Because I was fiddling with my headset, I missed some of the question and thought it was about professional communications with clients. I said that most people are very forgiving of mistakes made by someone writing in their second language and that as long as the client knows this and that the message is clearly conveyed, a few minor mistakes shouldn’t be a problem.
Your website, however, is another matter altogether. As we explained in the webinar, a translator’s website is a shop window: it must be attractive and make the visitor want to know more. It’s the chance to engage with potential customers and present one’s abilities and competencies and as translation professionals, we just cannot afford to have language mistakes in it. Even when writing in our second language, errors will reflect badly on our integrity and attention to detail and this why the English side of my site is carefully proofread by a native English speaker. This includes almost every blog entry – not the small ones, which I’m confident I can get right so long as I use simple language, but definitely the longer ones, which may involve delving into issues a bit more deeply and having to convey more complicated concepts. Typos are one thing, but if I want to be taken seriously as a translation professional, I must show language the respect that it is due.