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PLS Professional Language Services BV

Translators for banks, insurers and the legal profession

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Advice on translation services/support

We are frequently approached by companies and organisations with questions regarding to the level of service we can provide in certain contexts. Some organisations are in need of a professional translation of a document written in Dutch, others have produced a reasonably good document in English and need it edited, while others, mainly professionals working for organisations, just need some help with terminology and formulation of passages in emails etc.

The following are a few guidance notes with suggestions for various service levels that may be appropriate in your case.


  • Don't have a document translated that you can get free of charge

This sounds obvious, but we occasionally receive requests, for instance, for translations of extracts from the Municipal Personal Records Database (GBA). Municipalities and other public sector organisations provide international versions of these and other documents, so there is no need to have them translated. It is important though to ask the issuing authority to use English stamps when they endorse it, otherwise these will have to be translated!


  • Documents drawn up by experts in English, that needs editing

If the author is a Dutch speaker and unless his/her/their mastery of English is almost that of a native-speaker, we would strongly advise against drawing up a source document in English and then having it edited. For simple texts this is not generally a problem. For professional reports, contracts and the like, which are an expression of a professionals expertise and precision in formulating ideas, we would strongly recommend drawing up an excellently formulated text in Dutch and then having it translated by a professional translator into English. In our experience the quality of the final text is much higher. Of course, the author of the Dutch text often has an excellent passive knowledge of English in the respective discipline, so close cooperation with the translator is desirable in the final stages to ensure that the right nuances are communicated. The important point here is that the final document, the English translation, should be a good reflection in English of the expertise of its author.


  • Working documents drawn up in English

If you have clients of long standing who are used to communicating with you in English and who do not judge your expertise on your English in every email or proposal, you might consider drawing up documents in English and having them checked before you send them. A quick scan and edit is often enough for this. It is possible, in such cases, to have each document edited as a separate assignment. Alternatively, you could also enter into an agreement on a fixed retainer (a fixed amount per week or month) with a translator to do a certain volume of editing. This reduces the administrative burden of issuing, paying and administering invoices for every separate assignment or text and allows for a quick response.


  • Incidental assistance with terminology and formulation, and tips

Many of our clients assistance with incidental assistance with terminology and specific phraseology. This is often too little to warrant engaging a translator and is too important just to improvise or rely on a translation machine. For this category of support, we offer an online helpline on LinkedIn. Here you can put your questions regarding translations from Dutch into English or terminology to colleagues in your field and receive answers and other assistance. We cannot promise to answer all your questions immediately, but will certainly be online frequently to assist where we can.


Robert Ensor in cooperation with Andrew Smail.