Today in this article we would like to talk about the professional responsibility of translators. Professional responsibility is a very general concept and is not directly established anywhere. Rather, it is a set of rules and actions inherent in every professional in their industry. These rules, of course, are unspoken and completely optional, but their presence or absence is sometimes the best indicator of professionalism.

Satisfied smiling business woman compiling a form for a job recruitment or interview at office

To better illustrate what we mean, here are some examples. The waiter asks you how cold your drink should be; the bank teller asks if you need assistance in activating your card; the translator specifies where exactly you will submit the translation of your passport. All these described situations have one thing in common: an employee of the organization performs a function that is not obliged to perform. In order to bring you lemonade, the waiter does not need to know how many ice cubes to put there; to make you a translation, the translator does not need to wonder where you will carry it.

In these cases, the employee is simply trying to predict the possible consequences for you in this or that action. Of course, there will always be those who say that this is a waste of time, that they are not paid for this, and in general the client himself must say what he needs. They will be partly right – but only partly. Those who like the work they do, those who try to look a little further beyond the horizon, those who have the same professional responsibility – they will certainly ask this and other questions. We will conventionally call this aspect “What a professional can do”. But this is only part of the responsibility.

There are quite obvious things that a professional is simply obliged to do. First of all, he is obliged to answer for his mistakes. There is no way to dispute this fact. If your mistake is due to the fact that the customer did not report something, did not mention something – see the point above: you should have asked about it. Sometimes you can read in one or another translation agency that the translator is not responsible for unspoken wishes, but this statement is not entirely true. Yes, he really does not bear responsibility, but a real professional must partly anticipate the desires of his clients.

The client is always right. The modern service business does not work any differently, which means that you need to find out from the client all possible aspects of translation and related issues. If the customer himself does not know the answers to them – well, it is necessary to convey to him all the possible risks associated with this or that decision. The last word is always with the client, but he must understand the consequences of his decision. If a client does not know how to arrange a translation of his document, and it is impossible to find out, he should at least understand what will happen with one design and what will happen with another.