So far, most of my clients are academics. The downside is that they question and argue, and bluffing won’t do. The upside is that they question and argue, and bluffing won’t do. I don’t work for them but with them, and that suits me fine. To do so I use my Eightfold Path towards Translation. That path is the result of much trial and some error.
Step 1 is Reading. I carefully read my client’s text, trying to understand its meaning and noting down words or passages that may cause trouble later on.
Step 2 is Research. Trying to find the correct translation for those words in this context. For that I use all my dictionaries, encyclopedias and word lists, an ever expanding collection. I once tracked down the English translation of a 17th-century Dutch military term in an on-line Latin-English glossary on Roman military engineering. I have had to resort to Anglo-Saxon for the equivalent of a medieval eastern Dutch territorial unit. This is why I love my work.
Step 3 is Translation proper. Translating the text sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph, never word by word. Where there are ambiguities or mistakes in the original I make a digital note in the margin, as I also do if I suspect that my choice of words or syntax needs explanation.
Step 4 is Correction. The spell check (never on automatic pilot!), removing double spaces, in short: the basics.
Step 5 is Polishing. I read the translated text from first to last, often aloud, without referring to the original. Would a native speaker accept this or is it Danglish or Denerlands? Where necessary I change words, spelling, grammar, style.
Step 6 is Back to the Roots. I carefully compare the original and the translation, sentence by sentence. Sometimes my efforts at step 5 make me stray too far from the author’s original meaning.
Step 7 is that same Author. The translation and my remarks, explanations and questions are sent to him or her, to shoot at. Have I understood what you wanted to say, and do you understand my choices?
Step 8 is Revision. I look at the author’s comments and questions and where necessary adjust my translation or if not, explain why. Ideally, the translation is then finished and the author well pleased.
There is no step 9, or it would be my invoice. To be paid promptly, of course.