I’ve been a professional translator for close to 30 years, and for the past 15 years, I have had the honour of leading AZ World Translation and Interpretation Inc. AZ World grew from a one person shop to an agency working with over 1,000 translators in over 140 languages. Throughout it all, I’ve learned that in translation, as in life, we all make mistakes.
A mistake in a translation/interpretation may mean the difference between life and death. If a doctor asks you “You are here to have your left hip operated on?” and the interpreter says “¿Viene por su operación en la cadera derecha?” Mistaking your left hip (cadera izquierda in Spanish) for your right hip (cadera derecha in Spanish) is obviously a catastrophic mistake!
My mantra is “We all make mistakes, but an error is different than a ‘horror’”. When we make a mistake, the sooner we acknowledge it, the better. I am accountable for the translation that you have received, and I will never blame somebody else for our error, your mistake is my mistake. I will not say it was the translator’s or interpreter`s mistake, and not my mistake. I will say, “I am sorry, I should not have made/delivered that mistake; it is my fault and my responsibility to have caught it.” That is ownership, leadership, and accountability.
And, it is only with ownership, leadership, and accountability that words really matter! It is only when we commit to making our words matter, only when we commit to giving life to our words, and only when we stand by our words that our lives become truly meaningful.