Term turmoil

I don’t expect the verbally indifferent to share a translator’s love of words. I don’t even expect them to understand us, really. But causing term turmoil is just not OK.

Today’s post has to aims: to get suggestions from other professionals and to get something off my chest. But before I can do either–hello, cart before the horse–I should at least tell you what in the world I’m talking about.


So here it is. What do you do when a client is requesting an incorrect translation. I don’t mean “off the mark” or “not quite right”… I’m talking no where near right. To protect the innocent, let me give you a random example, rather than the one that crossed my desk last week

Let’s say a client wants you to translate the word book using the word librería (bookstore). Why o why? Who knows. That’s just the way, uh-huh uh-huh, he likes it. Grrrr.

On the one hand, the client is the client. They pay; we provide a service. But there are boundaries. I have to admit, this crosses one of mine. I can deal with awkward, unusual, and even obscure… but flat out WRONG, I have a problem with.

I smiled and pointed out that using the suggested–and WRONG WRONG WRONG, not that I said that part–term would create serious confusion in the Spanish version. Then I tinkered with it, slept on it, and finished the translation with a descriptive phrase–the equivalent of saying texto impreso y encuadernado (printed and bound text).

Deep breath. Rant over. Well, how did I do? Any advice on this sort of bump in the road? I’m especially interested in options for handling the situation with a client that won’t let it go. Do you just use the wrong word? I’m all ears.

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