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Client\'s rights. Where do we draw the line?
Thread poster: Bertha S. Deffenbaugh

Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 25, 2002

Should the client pick our words for us? Should we accept their corrections?



I have just read a thread where a colleague is asking which term she should use in her translation. The original read *law firm* and the colleague translated \"bufete de abogados\". To me, that is a perfect translation into spanish. However, the client did not like the term and the colleague was wondering which one to use.



Do you think it is OK that a client simply says * I don\'t like this term, change it*?


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 05:10
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
QUIEN PAGA,... Apr 25, 2002

Este es el meollo de la cuestión, y así llevamos varios miles de años...

Usque tandem?
[addsig]


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 23:10
German to English
+ ...
Drawing the line Apr 25, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-25 16:39, Bertha wrote:

Should the client pick our words for us? Should we accept their corrections?



I have just read a thread where a colleague is asking which term she should use in her translation. The original read *law firm* and the colleague translated \"bufete de abogados\". To me, that is a perfect translation into spanish. However, the client did not like the term and the colleague was wondering which one to use.



Do you think it is OK that a client simply says * I don\'t like this term, change it*?





In this particular example, it was the client\'s fault anyway because they did not inform the translator of the target audience (Spain, Mexico, Peru, etc.).



In general, I find that some clients tend to go overboard when it comes to personal likes and dislikes. Translators are not mind-readers; we cannot know what a client likes or dislikes - unless they are very specific from the get-go.



In addition, there are certain clients that, armed with a \"tourist\'s dictionary\", claim that term XYZ does not exist because they could not find it their dictionary.



We have to treat all these cases individually. Sometimes clients have valid requests, but at other times, they are just ignorant.

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LAC
United States
Local time: 22:10
French to English
+ ...
I'm an in-house translator and I run into this often... Apr 25, 2002

I usually start by asking why the author/client doesn\'t like the \"contested\" term or phrase.



Then, I explain why I translated it as I did and, when possible, offer alternatives that take into account the author/client\'s objections. (This often leads to mini-English grammar/vocabulary lessons.)



It takes longer but 95% of the time we can find a solution that is acceptable to both the author and me as translator that way.



When we can\'t, in some cases, the author presents strong enough arguments against using the \"exact\" translation in the specific document in question, in which case I\'ll swallow my translator\'s pride and use the author\'s preferences.



In other cases (much rarer), I stick to my guns.



But in all three cases, once I\'ve delivered the final version, I don\'t think I have the slightest claim over the text. It is no longer mine and the author is free to do what s/he wants with it, as far as I\'m concerned. (Although I did in one case--before getting an in-house job--request that my name be taken off the translation.)



But the whole process is time-consuming and perhaps not always possible in freelance situations...



Any other ways of dealing with this out there?





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Ariadna Castillo González  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 12:10
English to Catalan
+ ...
It´s not right, but they are the ones paying... :( Apr 25, 2002

Hi Bertha,



It amazes me that they call on a professional to do a job and then they question the terms chosen by the translator.

Kind of weird!



I personally don´t think this is right, and if I´m sure that I used the *right* word(taking into account target country as well) I would try to convince my client. But then if I don´t succeed, I guess there is no other option than changing it. After all, he/she is the client, the one who pays and, like it or not, she/he has the final say



Regards from The Netherlands



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Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly, Werner! Apr 25, 2002

Werner wrote:

In addition, there are certain clients that, armed with a \"tourist\'s dictionary\", claim that term XYZ does not exist because they could not find it their dictionary

__________________________________



Hey, Werner, you have made me laugh!

You are quite right! Armed with a tourist\'s dictionary. Funny and true.



I remember once that an agency\'s owner *changed* one or two terms in an english into spanish translation I had done. The guy was american and had spent *some months* in Mexico. He thought that the correct translation for \" the same day\" was \"LA mismo dia\" and even though he KNEW that spanish is my mother tongue, he still insisted in asking me whether he was not right.



What had happened? The agency\'s client, who was a russian residing in the USA *thought* that he had a good mastery of Spanish definite articles. The client corrected the agency and the agency wondered if I was right or wrong. -:? Needless to say, when the same agency asked me to do another job, I told them I was busy.


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:10
French to English
Client instructions Apr 25, 2002

I think the best thing a translator can do is inform the client that their term doesn\'t work in the context (for whatever reason). We are the language professionals and we know what works and what doesn\'t in the target language. We shouldn\'t be afraid to say, \"Sorry, but your suggestion won\'t work here\".



Incidentally, I did a short translation from French into English a few weeks ago. It was advertising for a new VW car (with a fair amount of technical terminology). The day before the deadline, I got a call from my client saying that her client had called and requested that the translation be literal so that their American clients could follow it . I told her it wasn\'t possible because a literal translation into English would sound ridiculous. I stuck to my guns and translated it my way and my client was very pleased.



Such things call for client education.



Erika



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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What I wish I could do Apr 25, 2002

An on-line journal publishes my translation of the article... except for the title of the article, which just about a word-for-word translation (Unreliable friends and all) of the title in the original language. When I (politely) remonstrate, the journal tells me that the original author supplies the translation for the title. (I ask myself why he doesn\'t translate the whole article then.)



So what I wish I could do, when users or clients insist on inserting what I believe to be a mistake, is to charge extra for any mistakes imposed on my translation!


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Buzzy
Local time: 05:10
French to English
It's best to talk with the client if you can... Apr 26, 2002

I too think you have to try and deal with this sort of thing according to the circumstances: in other words, try to educate wherever possible, negotiate if necessary, and after all that, PROVIDED THE WORD IS AN ACCEPTABLE EQUIVALENT, apply the client\'s preference (it can be a metter of personal preference more often than you think). If it isn\'t, stick to your guns!

Like Lara, I used to work in-house and spent a lot of time politely pointing out to my French colleagues that they were the specialists in accounting but I was the specialist in English/translating! Doing it on a \"work-it-out-together basis\" is obviously the best option, and you sometimes have to have a little humility yourself (sometimes I too was guilty of claiming a word didn\'t exist in English, only for them to whip out the fax/book/article they\'d copied it from... it\'s a good lesson to learn!)

This sort of approach isn\'t so easy when you aren\'t physically in the same place as your clients. Friendly telephone relations are vital for this reason. Also, if clients feel you listen to them rather than just saying \"don\'t be stupid, the word is X\" (even if that\'s true), well that\'s just good business sense, apart from it being more pleasant!



Ariadna, I think clients query things because a) they can speak the \"foreign\" language and like to see familiar words - sometimes in the worst of these cases they still feel deep down that if they had the time/if the boss hadn\'t told them to get the translation sent out, they could have done it themselves; or b) they speak hardly any of the \"foreign\" language, very possibly no foreign languages at all, and haven\'t a clue about how translating is more than just picking up any dictionary (as Werner pointed out). Whatever the reason, we\'re left with this nagging feeling that they think translation is a soft option... and we have the cheek to want to be paid for it too!!


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infoats
Local time: 04:10
English to French
+ ...
Client's preference Aug 30, 2002

If the client is not actually complaining but have just handwritten all over your document with their own words, explain to them that you\'re happy to \'incorporate their preferred terminology\'.



Then send them an invoice for your work!



No, just kidding.



Unless they\'re actually saying that your translation is \'bad\' \'wrong\' etc, then make the changes with good grace and for free.



If they are right, you have made a mistake, apologise and correct it immediately, checking the whole document to make sure the mistake hasn\'t crept in elsewhere (it\'s not up to the client to pick out every instance - once they find a mistake, they are right to assume you\'ll check the whole doc over again).



Why some clients can\'t just make their preferential changes themselves without having to refer back to the translator I don\'t know... I think people just sometimes like to think they are translators too! You know better, if you\'re a pro, and there\'s very little to be gained by getting upset over it. Bite your tongue, punch a bag, throw darts at their company logo... whatever.



Ask them for a glossary of terms before the job starts.


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