Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution

Review by Stafford Hemmer

Translation Contract: A Standards-based Model Solution by Uwe Muegge, 100 pages, Authorhouse, 2005, ISBN: 1418416363

Translation Contract: A Standards-Based Model Solution is a toolkit in book form. Author Uwe Mr. Muegge dices the contractual relationship between translation buyer and vendor into a collection of checklists and work order forms. Using DIN 2345, ÖNORM D, and ASTM F15.48 standards, Mr. Muegge aims at four basic goals: improving communication between translation vendors and translation buyers, structuring and standardizing translation projects, improving efficiency, and improving quality. His intended audience includes “translation buyers and vendors who do not have comprehensive contractual agreements in place … and [those] who do not have much experience in the translation and/or localization field.” If this toolkit were presented in electronic form, it would be a hit. But in its present book form, Translation Contract misses its mark.

At skeptical first glance, publisher AuthorHouse should have considered condensing the booklet prior to its publication. “Section A: Master Data,” a full 21 of the booklet’s 100 pages, is a sparse presentation of basic contract elements that could have all fit into a one-page form. Indeed, the data fields presented in this section are obvious requisites to any valid and enforceable translation contract. But do neophyte freelancers or contract-deficient agencies really need four pages of prompting lest they forget to incorporate buyer and vendor contact info into their newly structured contracts?

The meat is in Sections B-H. Mr. Muegge guides readers on identifying and defining translation services, documents, textual and formal considerations, hardware and software used, additional agreements, and review procedures. Each section starts with a one-sentence “overview” of the objective; for example, “Section E: Formal Considerations. In this section, the contractual partners reach agreement on specific formal aspects of the translation project.” Here, Mr. Muegge succeeds in highlighting salient contract issues that users can take into consideration when structuring translation projects and contracts. The three-page “Appendix: Overview of Translation-Related Standards” adds value by filtering ISO standards, and listing references to Internet-based resources, thereby perhaps warranting the booklet’s $15.50 cover price. Still, the two-page set of definitions that preface the book, including such gems as, “target language: A target language is a natural language. Translation professionals use a target language to translate to,” could do with a little polish.

Mr. Muegge’s comprehensive approach is important for closing the loopholes found in various model contracts, such as those from ATA. Perhaps, then, the only thing wrong with this book is precisely that: it’s a book. His target audience certainly would have been better served if he delivered Translation Contract as a software product, because that data medium would enable the author to deliver the comprehensiveness he seeks to provide. In addition to presenting a useable boilerplate contract, the checklists and work order forms would then become more valuable to users because they could then be downloaded and modified. Mr. Muegge could also spend more time fleshing out the terminology, and delivering more information about the translation-related standards upon which the booklet is based, rather than just list them. If, in the future, Mr. Muegge decides to present Translation Contract in electronic format, he’ll be sure to hit the bull’s-eye.

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