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Similar product, two different agencies: shall I tell them about terminology differences?
Thread poster: Csaba Ban

Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:35
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Jul 7, 2003

Let's suppose there is a Company C (telecom services) that markets 2 different products (P1 and P2), and these products are manufactured by two different manufacturers (M1 and M2). It is very likely that these two products will be localized by two different translation agencies (A1 and A2), and most possibly two different translators (T1 and T2).

Well, I have been working for some time now for A1 on the localization of P1: all interface items, etc. have been meticulously discussed and refined by C, M1, A1 and T1.

Enters A2 (an old client for whom I have not been working actively for at least a year) with a job that turns out to be the manual for P2, which is very similar in functionality to P1. So far, so good, you might think, as I have a vast and rich TM and terminology database that I can draw on...

Not quite, as there is an existing approved translation and a list of terms for an earlier version of P2. Obviously, I am asked to adhere to this existing text and terms as much as possible.

And here is my dilemma: Company C apparently made serious efforts in harmonizing the interface of P1 and P2, but a large number of such items are translated differently by A1 (T1) and A2 (T2).

When I act as T2(new), I obviously follow the instructions of A2 and stick to the work of T2(old). But being T1 and T2(new) in one person, I can see the obvious terminology differences in the two products. To be clear: they ARE actually very harmonized in English, but several important items are translated differently into the target language.

As I know for sure that the terminology of P1 has been thouroughly checked in several rounds by all parties involved, and I am not quite sure if A2 performs a similar quality check procedure, am I entitled to inform A2 about the potential discrepancies between P1 and P2?

Or I should make efforts to contact C directly (with whom I have never had any direct contact) and inform them about the divergent translations of their products?

Or I just should not care at all about the whole damn thing? After all, I am in direct contact with A1 and A2 and both of them are rather satisfied with my job.

What would you do in this case?


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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:35
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
I wouldn't Jul 7, 2003

Touchy issue - I wouldn't. Terminology and the terms used in a translation are part of the confidential nature of translations. Further, different companies use different terms to set themselves apart from their competitors. Unless you are talking about terms that are covered by standards, I wouldn't not discuss these matters with the client, especially if you're not dealing directly with the manufacturer/local representative.

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:35
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Mum is the word Jul 7, 2003

Csaba,

This is a sticky one but I would say "mum is the word" Don't say anything; you would blow your confidentiality with both clients and may end up losing one or both.

Lucinda.


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 01:35
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That was my intention also Jul 7, 2003

Thank you for your comments. Actually, that was my intention also - stay calm. Anyway, it would be the responsibility of Company C to harmonize not only the English interface of its products but also to ensure that all localized versions are also harmonized.

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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 02:35
English to Bulgarian
Hmmm, tricky, indeed... Jul 7, 2003

What if, at a certain point, company C, having noticed the differences and decided to iron them out, asks for a meeting with both agencies and both translators?

Questionnable as it may sound, I'd consider contacting company C in a confidential manner... maybe paying them a personal visit. Being notified about the situation, they could request A2 to comply with the new standards *they* provide (which would be the standards developed in cooperation with A1/T1). At the same time, they would (hopefully) appreciate your ethics and would not disclose to any of the agencies that you work for their competitors, or that you have contacted them directly.

Also, from that point on you are very likely to earn the status of *their* translator... which would be a good thing, no?

Of course, you could point out that starting to work for them directly would be, in a way, unethical to both A1 and A2... so you could ask them to continue working through either A1 or A2 (your choice), requesting that they assign the jobs to the same translator.

Whew... I *am* hypothecizing too much...


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 02:35
English to Bulgarian
Forgot something... Jul 7, 2003

The foundation of my proposal was that contacting C directly is actually (IMO) the least conflicting way of having the client's job done properly - which is what it's all about, right?

I think that leaving the client's (albeit end client's) job half-done because of business etiquette considerations, in this case contradicts to professional standards.

What are we in the first place: professionals or businessmen?


Wow... I can hear the storm rolling in



[Edited at 2003-07-07 21:12]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:35
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Just ask A2 Jul 8, 2003

I would tell my observation to A2 and let them decide, if to involve their customer. To adhere to the terminology of P1 would mean to change all other parts of the documentation, software etc. it is very unlikely, that it will happen, but they should know. Otherwise the personnel of customer 2 in the target language probably knows already about the terminology difference.
As a tranlator you are suspected to know at least about one competitive product, how else could you deliver a good translation. It is unnecessary to inform A2, how deeply you are involved with P1.


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