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How to deal with bad proofreading
Thread poster: Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:15
Member (2004)
Italian to English
Feb 25, 2004

This is truly one of the wierdest things that has happened to me. Have I just been lucky?
After finishing a job for a new agency and returning it with ample time before the deadline, the agency returned it to me with a series of "corrections", most of which made absolutely no sense. The majorty of the corrections took my native spoken English and turned the syntax upsidedown into Italian translated English- way too many repetitive articles, lots of these loopy sentences- "the research of the doctor" instead of "the doctor's research", too literal translations, and elimination of any idiomatic expressions (I don't think they understood them!). And to top it off they inserted a couple of words that don't even exist! Not to mention crazy grammar.
The agency even had the gall to tell me they were losing lots of valuable time on these "corrections"! I responded point by point to the first cartella, but then got so frustrated that I decided it was an absurd waste of time and told them so.
My question is, have any of you had a similar experience, and if so, did you have problems getting paid?(my obvious worry)
The funniest part is that they insisted on a native English speaker for this job!
J.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It happens to all of us Feb 25, 2004

Many years ago, I was contacted by a new agency to complete a 10 page back-translation from Italian into English (the document was originally written in English, then translated into Italian and the client wanted a third person to translate the document back into English in order to check the validity of the translation – not the proper way to do it at all since as a bilingual person I may be able to understand something written in the foreign language only because I can “guess” the original English meaning/syntax and the client is unaware that a problem exists.)

Approximately one week after completing the job, the agency contacted me and informed me that the client was not happy with the back-translation. I asked them to fax me a copy of the corrections. I was flabbergasted when they faxed me the document and I discovered what the client had done. The document was covered in red, handwritten ink on every page. It appeared as if almost no text had been left unchanged. Whoever did this must have spent hours. What did they do? They corrected my back-translated English to exactly match the original English text. They believed that my translation should have matched the original English text 100% in every detail and spent hours “correcting” the text by hand even though the meaning of my version was exactly the same.



[Edited at 2004-02-25 22:04]


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:15
German to Romanian
+ ...
i have never been in this situation, but ... Feb 25, 2004

I suggest that in case they refuse to pay, you suggest proofreading by a third, independent person. Maybe that helps.

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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Sorry to hear this, but you are not alone Feb 25, 2004

It happened to me once as well. Luckily, it was for a company I had worked for many years and they knew my work well. However, I asked for a third, independent editor and the company came back to me telling me that they regretted that they had hired the first editor in the first place.

The funny thing with that editor was that he/she did not even have the special Albanian characters in his computer, so the material looked a real mess after his/her editing.


Things like that happen once in awhile I guess. I would suggest asking for a third independent editor to check your material.

Good luck,
Monika




[Edited at 2004-02-26 00:26]


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xxxmishima
Local time: 12:15
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
The world is small! Feb 25, 2004

jajd wrote:

My question is, have any of you had a similar experience, and if so, did you have problems getting paid?(my obvious worry)
The funniest part is that they insisted on a native English speaker for this job!


This is normal here in Japan as well. Many agencies want native speakers to do translations (we are mothertongue in both Italian and Japanese) but, since they basically don't trust translators because they have little foreign language knowledge, some of them even have the original translation proofread by two mothertongue speakers. The problem is, in case of Japanese to Italian translations for example, that in order to pay the proofreading activity the least possible, they use Japanese people who have a variable knowledge of the Italian language, usually those who spent two or three years or little more in Italy and then when they come back to Japan they offer rather or even very cheap rates in order to survive in the very harsh local competition. However, even those who took a degree in Italian language at the University, usually like to adhere to the most commonly system used in Japan: a perfectly literal translation.

However, despite this we never had payment problems, although it took us much time to disqualify these proofreaders and prove the correctness of our work.

But even our English to Italian translations sometimes pass through this weird practice, the problem being that the proofreader is almost allways a Japanese with a limited knowledge of the English and the Italian language.

I think you should insist on your claims: if these are valid - as I suppose they are - the unprofessional agencies will understand and at the end (after suffering other experiences like these) they will change attitude towards you. At least we have seen this happening often in Japan.

In bocca al lupo

Mishima


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:15
German to English
+ ...
Back translation Feb 25, 2004

This strays from the subject a little bit, but I hate back translations, too, although I can understand why some clients insist on them for legal reasons.
What the client did by matching the back translation to the original English text is downright unethical! A back translation will NEVER match the original word for word, and doesn't have to, so long as the meaning is the same.

Trudy


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bergazy  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 05:15
Croatian to Italian
+ ...
I survived it twice... Feb 25, 2004

...in 10 years and both clients were very important Italian (!) agencies. I wrote them in response but without results.They simply did not care about my strong and
well-documented arguments so I think that the only thing they really wanted is to cut my price down.
I hope it is not your case.


Good luck!


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aneta_xh  Identity Verified
English to Albanian
+ ...
Similar case Feb 26, 2004

I have had a similar case with Monika. Someone with a bad written Albanian, full of grammar and spelling mistakes, and even who had left out the special Albanian characters had proofread my translation once. I had a hard time convincing the company that their proofreader was not a professional one, since he did not even met the basic requirement: having and using the Albanian characters when writing something in Albanian. It was an ugly fight, but finally they believed me and I got paid. I do not know what happened to the other person. I am not sure if this happens with different languages, but with the Albanian language, anybody who speaks Albanian and some English can pose like a translator/editor/interpreter. I am surprized with their courage, but it happens a lot with my language. I have been a translator for quite some time now and I have seen this happens even before the internet era.
Cheers,
Aneta

Monika Coulson wrote:

It happened to me once as well. Luckily, it was for a company I had worked for many years and they knew my work well. However, I asked for a third, independent editor and the company came back to me telling me that they regretted that they had hired the first editor in the first place.

The funny thing with that editor was that he/she did not even have the special Albanian characters in his computer, so the material looked a real mess after his/her editing.


Things like that happen once in awhile I guess. I would suggest asking for a third independent editor to check your material.

Good luck,
Monika




[Edited at 2004-02-26 00:26]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Never as freelancer, but all the time at the office Feb 26, 2004

This has never happened to me as a freelancer, but at the office where I'm employed full-time (a newspaper's advertising department) it happens quite frequently.

What's even worse is that sometimes the client would insist on using the sourcetext heading and retaining the targettext body (with the result that any play on words goes to the birds). I live in a bilingual country and chances are that a large portion of the target audience will understand any secondlanguage elements in the text.

The same goes where the advert already has graphic and wordplay based on it. Sometimes the concept text is changed to be consistent with the graphic, and then the client comes and changes his heading back to the original, thereby rendering the entire copywriting exercise meaningless and even potentially misleading.


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James Calder  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
The problem with English is ... Feb 26, 2004

that everyone knows a little and, as we all know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I've always welcomed feedback and constructive advice on where I might have gone wrong but it used to annoy me whenever a non-English client questioned my use of a particular word or saw fit to make unneccesary and incorrect changes to my work. I've learned to accept, however, that there will always be some people (mercifully few in my experience) who think that doing a one-month English course in Oxford, Dublin or John O'Groats entitles them to opine on the English language. Perhaps it does, I don't know. All I can say is that it pays to be calm and rational in these circumstances and to point out to your would-be corrector where he/she is mislead. As for your case, jajd, I would definitely consider not working for them again as their behaviour has been pretty unreasonable. I'm sure there are plenty of other clients in Italy who would appreciate your work.

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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:15
German to English
+ ...
Been there, done that ... (and it's an unpleasant experience) Feb 26, 2004

James Calder wrote:

that everyone knows a little and, as we all know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I've always welcomed feedback and constructive advice on where I might have gone wrong but it used to annoy me whenever a non-English client questioned my use of a particular word or saw fit to make unneccesary and incorrect changes to my work. I've learned to accept, however, that there will always be some people (mercifully few in my experience) who think that doing a one-month English course in Oxford, Dublin or John O'Groats entitles them to opine on the English language. Perhaps it does, I don't know. All I can say is that it pays to be calm and rational in these circumstances and to point out to your would-be corrector where he/she is mislead. .


I totally agree with you James. I've had this kind of thing happen quite a few times - with non-native speakers. Very recently, in fact, I had to spend hours of my time commenting on some completely pointless corrections made to one of my jobs by a non-native speaker. The worse bit about it was that the end customer initially claimed that the corrections were done by a native!!

I hate this kind of thing, but you have to get through it. Usually, I do so by calmly and politely (even though it can sometimes be a really struggle) making my own comments on the corrections made and additionally getting a colleague to make theirs to back up my statements. So far, this has worked very well and I've always been paid. I guess you may loose customers in the long-run, because nobody likes having egg on their face, but at the end of the day, I don't think I want to work with such arrogant people.

Like all of us, I appreciate comments and suggestions, but I don't appreciate someone who is not qualified to do so (be they native or non-native) slagging off my work. There's a way to deal with people and that just isn't it - some customers just tend to jump the gun.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
I'd get a third opinion Feb 26, 2004

Agencies here in Italy often have ITALIAN employees do their proofing. Sometimes these folks are good and pick up on a typo here or there. Often, however, they're not familiar enough with English.
Since you and I live in the same country and work in the same language, I'd be happy to look at a cartella or two of the agency's "revised version" so you can send them another opinion.


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Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:15
Member (2004)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
I'm doiing just that Feb 26, 2004

cbolton wrote:

Agencies here in Italy often have ITALIAN employees do their proofing. Sometimes these folks are good and pick up on a typo here or there. Often, however, they're not familiar enough with English.
Since you and I live in the same country and work in the same language, I'd be happy to look at a cartella or two of the agency's "revised version" so you can send them another opinion.
Thanks for the offer. I've given a cartella to another English translator to look over, and will then forward it to the agency. The editing is definitely being handled by an Italian on the agency's end, who communicates with me exclusively in Italian. Che buffo!
Thanks for your comments.


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Katherine Zei  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:15
Italian to English
+ ...
What a nightmare! Feb 26, 2004

jajd wrote:

cbolton wrote:

Agencies here in Italy often have ITALIAN employees do their proofing. Sometimes these folks are good and pick up on a typo here or there. Often, however, they're not familiar enough with English.
Since you and I live in the same country and work in the same language, I'd be happy to look at a cartella or two of the agency's "revised version" so you can send them another opinion.
Thanks for the offer. I've given a cartella to another English translator to look over, and will then forward it to the agency. The editing is definitely being handled by an Italian on the agency's end, who communicates with me exclusively in Italian. Che buffo!
Thanks for your comments.


Si, che buffo, ma anche che p***e!!!
Good luck, J.! I hope things work out for you, and welcome to Proz (since I haven't seen you around yet).

I agree that a little knowledge can be transformed into a nuclear weapon in the hands of the wrong person.

I made the mistake of complementing a client on her English, which, while quite good for an Italian, was far from excellent. She took this complement to heart and proceeded to "correct" my translations, for the worse. I made the mistake of gently insisting that she left well enough alone, but she didn't, and, well, I lost the client


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nettranslatorde
Member
Russian to German
+ ...
I've just had exactly the same experience Feb 26, 2004

Hi,
Please don't feel sad or frustrated. I've just had the same experience. And I did what Elvira would do:

:

I suggest that in case they refuse to pay, you suggest proofreading by a third, independent person. Maybe that helps.


They wanted me to re-issue my invoice because there had been so many mistakes - you should have seen what they made out of my translation! I checked the first third in a table (original-my translation-their "corrected" version-comments) and had a nice (also German native) colleague to verify my findings. Guess what? They became very friendly.....



[Edited at 2004-02-26 14:07]

[Edited at 2004-02-27 08:58]


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