In the translation process, sometimes you have to say no

Many people think that translators can do any kind of translation brought to them. I can say with certainty that that’s not true. Translators try their very best to be knowledgeable in as many areas as possible, but there are certain types of translation that require specialized knowledge: legal translations, medical translations, technical translations, etc.

I learned pretty early on in the business that as much as I wanted to work on every project sent to me, it just wasn’t possible. Sometimes, I don’t know enough about a subject to be able to write about it effectively.  A translator, when he or she is translating, has to understand both the subject and the context of what is presented to them exactly. Asking a multitude of questions just wouldn’t be enough. I had to learn to be ok with setting limits and sometimes saying no altogether.

Most of the time, people appreciate the honesty. Other times, they don’t understand it can’t be done.

I would encourage anyone looking for a specific kind of translation to research the translator as much as possible. The other thing would be to give yourself and the translator as much time as possible. Translation is not “one-size-fits-all” and it’s not a race. It’s a process that requires a lot of careful thought and consideration on all sides.


Annette Labbé is Owner and lead translator at Write 2 the Point.  Annette established her business in 2011. She has been translating since 2009, writing professionally since 2007, but it has been her lifelong dream to do so. From 2007-2008 she wrote a weekly pop culture column that ran for 71 weeks or so in the Welland Tribune. She is a member of the Welland-Pelham Chamber of Commerce.
Annette Labbé was born and raised in the Niagara Region, attended French-language schools (elementary school and high school) and subsequently obtained the degree Bachelor of Arts with Major English and Professional Writing, Minor in French from Brock University. While in University she was on the Dean’s Honours List.
Please visit Write 2 the Point to learn more about Annette and how she and her team can help you succeed today.

Text: 289.213.6622
Welland, ON L3B 3Z0