LevertijdenSociety moves at an ever faster pace. Businesses are responding: order before 23.59, next day delivery; ready whilst you wait; same-day service. And if your pizza is not at your front door inside 30 minutes, you get it free. It’s therefore not surprising that many clients expect translations to be done and returned at lightning speed. Sometimes with disappointing results. Translation work is a craft, after all. Word for word they are carefully translated by a human being, and then word for word edited by another human being. It’s not reasonable to expect conscientious craftsmen to race through a translation project in the time it takes Usain Bolt to win gold.

The average output of a translator is around two thousand words per day (five to six pages of A4). The text then needs to be edited, which can usually take another day. Of course, editing work is quicker than translation work, but you still need to factor in the time for sending and receiving documents, opening and closing files, etc. Finally, there’s the integrity check, something that is an in-house speciality of Avanti: whereas most translation agencies work with one translator and one editor, Avanti has a third person take one final look at the translation, to ensure absolute perfection. Nothing happens by magic.

But there’s more to it than that. The fact that a translator can translate two thousand words in one day doesn’t mean that if a client sends a text two thousand words long it can be returned the next day. For that to be possible, the client would need to send the text at the very start of the day, not, say, mid-morning. And even then, it would depend on the translator being able to start immediately. The chance of this being possible is frankly remote. Good translators – unsurprisingly – are busy with work. New work has to wait till current work has been finished. It may be a couple of days before the translator is able to start on the new work.

In short, if you want work done yesterday, the answer will be ‘no’. And usually it won’t be reasonable to expect it back today or tomorrow either.

Think of it as a main course at an internationally renowned restaurant. It takes skill and time to prepare. But when the plate does reach your table you can marvel at the results and be very happy that you didn’t order fast food!