Reference, Translation

Beginning Translator’s Survival Kit

by Susana Greiss and George Fletcher

Review by Sharlee Merner Bradley

All translators will enjoy and can benefit from this timely contribution to the profession. The 100-plus pages of the Beginning Translator’s Survival Kit are divided into two parts, each written separately by one of the authors, but both in an eminently readable style.

Part One was written by Susana Greiss, M.A., an experienced translator, interpreter, and mentor who was awarded the Gode Medal for her contributions to the profession, and offers recommendations about language combinations, training, mentoring, contacts, job hunting, sources of work, tools, client relations, clients abroad, and more. Part Two was written by George Fletcher, Ed.D., an experienced translator, interpreter, and now translation agency owner, and gives a theoretical overview of types of translation, as well as basics such as time, rates, proofreading, obtaining and maintaining clients, and what not to do. The contrast and balance of the two points of view make for a unique narrative structure and contribute to the benefits of the overall instruction.

Among the more interesting and valuable topics is Fletcher’s advice on translating diplomas and academic transcripts, and Greiss’s recommendations of keeping your old computer as a backup when you buy a new one. It is also handy to have dictionaries and other references open on that computer or a laptop while you are translating on your new one. Other helpful hints include turning on the Verification of Delivery function when you email your invoice, and printing it out for possible future reference; and keeping your cell phone handy when you are away from the office, or calling back frequently for messages so you won’t miss a job offer.

No doubt a second edition is planned, and for that, here are a few suggestions, mainly concerning design and readability. The type on both front and back covers (except for the title) could be made easier to read (and the misspelling of one of the author’s names corrected!); at least one reader has apparently offered to donate a design for a second edition. The cover is nicely scored to open easily, but it would be helpful if the inside pages were made to lie flat; pages in the second half should have the same margins as those in the first half.

The bottom line: If you are an experienced translator, you will enjoy the anecdotes in this extended FAQ. If you are a beginning translator, this handbook will give you essential advice.

Beginning Translator’s Survival Kit by Susana Greiss and George Fletcher.
Globe Language Services, Inc. 2005.
ISBN 0-9631999-3-5.
Available from for $15, postage included.
Net proceeds go to the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT).