Many of you linguists out there probably know that in German, as in other languages, we have two ways of addressing people: the formal way ("Sie") and the informal way ("du"). I know that there are similar distinctions in French (tu/vous) or Spanish (tú/usted) and I can just guess how many others. But English does not have such a distinction. This is a constant source of irritation in the translation jobs. It seems that many customers are not aware that such a decision has to be made when moving from English to one of these languages.
Some jobs indeed come with a setting that says "formal" or "informal" and then I know which way to go. But most jobs don't carry this piece of information. This means I have to ask the customer or decide myself. In most cases I will decide myself based on an educated guess, deliver the translation and add a comment stating what mode I used, offering to change it if the customer so desires. Only with longer texts I ask the customer beforehand in order to avoid large revisions.
Wouldn't it be better if customers were "forced" to make this decision when ordering a translation INTO German (or the other concerned languages)? I think the formal/informal setting should be mandatory here.
This is particularly important for those customers who split their work into several jobs. When these jobs are translated by different translators, it will often happen that some translators use the formal mode and others the informal mode in their work. When the pieces are put together later, the result will be a mess to read.
Many texts we translate are used for marketing purposes. The customer will easily see that this kind of mistake will destroy all marketing value of his text. It is in the customers' best interest to make a decision which mode of language to use and to stick to it.