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Handling queries – Guidelines for Translators

Query guidelines for translators
These are some guidelines aimed for translators on query management.
  • Do use the Query template for queries aimed for clients – see the Query folder for each project. Tell the PM when you have entered queries as they don’t check if there is anything unless you tell them so.
  • Don’t use the form if the query is related to linguistics that you need the reviser or another linguist to look at. In those cases you can enter queries in the file (and tell translator that there ARE queries inside the file in the notes column) or mention the specific query in an email.
  • Don’t use the reviser or your Lead translator as a walking dictionary though. Aim to produce a text that ultimately can be sold to the client without a second pair of eyes, even when it will be revised (even when you are a junior and still learning that is a good standard to aim for).
  • Don’t enter queries aimed for the PM or client inside the files as they will go unnoticed and it will look unprofessional if we deliver a file containing queries.
  • Do first check the project instructions and reference material for clues for an answer.
  • Do your research before firing off premature questions. Some clients are more helpful than others and some are more damning if we ask something that “we should know” (especially if it is mentioned in instructions, reference material, TM etc).
  • Do ask other translators involved in the project if they have a solution to your problem (even if they translate into other languages, if the query is not target-language related).
  • Apart from asking other translators directly, you can check the other target language TMs via Nexus and see what solutions the other translators have arrived at (provided you understand the other target language).
  • If the query is something that you realise that only the client can answer, then please write it in a clear, concise and respectful and professional manner (in English). Don’t ask “what is this in [your target language]”. But if e.g. the client’s reference material contains duplicate terms then you can ask which one is the preferred one that you should use (but first check it wasn’t mentioned in the instructions).
  • Don’t send queries in dribs and drabs but try to compile all your queries after your first draft translation, well in advance of the deadline so that the PM has a chance to look at them and ask the client.
  • Don’t send open queries with your delivery. If it was a really small job and there is no time to ask questions until you deliver, then apply your best solution and delivery with a note rather than missing the deadline. But this is just to be done as an exception.
  • Do ask the PM if you should hang on to the files and wait for answers, or if you should finalise to the best of your ability and deliver, if the deadline is looming and you haven’t received any answers. If so, you can put an explanation of your solutions in another column in the query file and notify the PM (who then will pass on to reviser or client). Sometimes we pass on the file for revision whilst waiting for the client’s answers. In that case, make sure that the reviser sees the queries and the explanation of your solutions.
  • If other translators working on a job has asked questions, the PM should tell everyone involved that questions have been asked and we are either waiting for answers, or the answers have arrived. But sometimes they may forget to inform everyone! So please make it a habit to always go in and check if the query template in the query folder contains anything, so that you can take it into account.
  • If the query is related to our internal workflow, and it is nothing that the client would know, then you can just ask the PM in an email (e.g. I can’t find X, I can’t connect to the TM, where is the TB etc).
Further information: Query instructions for PMs