Introducing… Erika Baker, English-German translator

by | Jan 25, 2017 | Translators' Column

A little about the languages and topics I specialise in

I’m an English-German translator. German by birth, I have lived in the UK for over 30 years. I’m qualified to translate from English into German as well as from German into English. My specialist topics have changed over the years. Having focused largely on energy economics and energy politics and insurance in the early years, I now mainly work in tourism, the heritage industry, food, commodities and raw materials and – the odd one out – Christian theology. I also translate general business correspondence, agreements and product portfolios for companies selling their goods and services online on Amazon and eBay. For private customers, I often provide certified translations of official documents.

My client base and the type of work clients place with me

Direct clients

I do very limited work with agencies and focus instead on developing long-standing relationships with direct clients. That way, I get to know the client’s company in detail. So I am aware of how it operates and who the various people are I should talk to when I have any questions on a text. What is more, it enables my clients to contact me out of hours in an emergency, knowing I will respond quickly and effectively.

The clients I have the closest business relationship with place their complete working process with me. This includes their website and product portfolio and initial emails to potential new contacts abroad as well as negotiations, agreements and after-sales service. I have, for example, helped to sort out problems on site for British contractors in Switzerland. Also, clients have employed me to help with buying and letting houses and apartments in Germany or Austria.

Private clients

Another client group are private individuals who require certified translations of official and personal documents. This group has grown considerably since the Leave referendum as people prepare to be flexible. British people living in the EU are getting their documents in order should they need to return to Britain. This could be the case if employing them became too complicated for their EU employer or if the British company they are working for abroad has to cut jobs because of future tariffs and increased red tape.

In preparation, people ask for certified translations of their qualifications, references, birth certificates, marriage certificates and divorce certificates and police clearance certificates.

Then there are happy Brits getting married abroad, needing translations of all their official documents for foreign register office weddings. I have also translated orders of Service and best man’s speeches. One of my personal highlights was receiving a thank-you note from a wedding couple. They included a photo of them on their wedding day skiing down an Austrian mountain – in their wedding outfits!

So, how does my work as a freelance English-German translator differ from that of a translation agency?

As you can tell, my service is much more comprehensive than simply translating documents for clients I never get to know. I can offer them as much or as little as they need: from simply translations to comprehensive bilingual business support. I don’t only translate their material as I receive it. As a value-added service, I advise when cultural differences may lead readers to misinterpret the translated text or it may cause offence. To give an example: in Germany it is not customary to address correspondents by their first name unless you are actually friends. Also, I don’t just translate texts with factors such as this one in mind, I actually tell clients how I have translated their letter and why. This improves clients’ understanding of the different cultural background.

Other specialist customer-focused services I offer and how they benefit my clients

One good example would be a long-standing business relationship I developed with a British estate agent. A family employed her to sell a house owned by 3 individual parties. One of the family members lived in a nursing home in Austria. The written correspondence involved the estate agent liaising between the British and the Austrian solicitors and the British Land Registry. Being able to pick up the phone, speak to the Austrian solicitor and then summarise the conversation for the British estate agent simplified a complex and drawn-out legal process considerably.

There was also a private client, a British father, who had lost contact with his young daughter in Germany. For years he fought a legal battle for access. I translated letters and statements to the court and, finally, the first private letters from the father to his daughter.

The biggest advantages to clients in working with freelance translators directly

Translating is no different from any other business relationship. People work better together the more they know about each other and each other’s business. If you work with an agency, you can never be sure which translator will be working on your documents. In contrast, if you work with a freelance translator they will get a real insight into your business and your concerns. You can contact them quickly and directly even if you only want to change a couple of words in a letter, or if you just need to know the right way of addressing someone.

You can trust them to look through a document and be able to summarise it for you quickly. This enables you to assess how urgent it is, what kind of response it requires and how much of it has to be translated.

Contact a freelance translator like me and I will offer you the same friendly personal service you would get from a colleague working in the same building.

Accurate, confidential, efficient and reliable English-German translations

Professionally qualified German translator into English and English into German, offering first class translation services for commercial, industrial, governmental and private clients.

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