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What do you do when you find errors in the source language?
Thread poster: Juliet Halewood

Juliet Halewood  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:17
Italian to English
Jul 21, 2005

Hi, everybody! This has hardly ever happened before, but just recently I have been sent several articles for translation (by the same company)containing numerous errors. These are mostly spelling errors; one was the incorrect spelling of a company name in a writ of summons. I know this generally doesn't affect my translation (except in the case of the company name) but do I tell my client (he's generally rather offhand anyway)? Do I repeat the error in my translation in the case of the company name?
What is the "rule of etiquette" in handling these situations?


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Karine J.
Local time: 17:17
French to German
+ ...
Honesty Jul 22, 2005

Hi,

I would always be honest with company I´m working for. You have to decide yourself the way to inform them about that but I´ll do in all cases. The condition is of course that you are pretty sure.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:17
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Tell the client about errors Jul 22, 2005

JulesH wrote:
I know this generally doesn't affect my translation (except in the case of the company name) but do I tell my client (he's generally rather offhand anyway)?


Tell the client... in fact, I think telling clients about gross errors in the source text is part of the translator's job, or at least it's part of the “added value” the client gets from having his document translated. Also ask the client if something is unclear -- by letting the client know that his source text is not as clear as he might have thought, you’re doing him a service by helping him improve it.


Do I repeat the error in my translation in the case of the company name?


If you suspect that the error was intended, then repeat the error BUT make very sure the client is made aware of the situation. Or, contact the client and ask him “Should I repeat these errors in the translation?” and he’s likely to say “No, please don’t.”


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Strohfeuer
Local time: 17:17
English to German
+ ...
report Jul 28, 2005

If it's "just" the odd spelling mistake you should send a note to the client with your delivery. Many times, the client intends to publish the English text alongside the translations, so they should be told if there are problems.

You should definitely mention it if the source contains gross errors.
Most of the times I get replies from clients like these: "Oh, thanks for spotting this! This has now been fixed."


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George Hopkins
Local time: 17:17
Swedish to English
Ask, don't tell! Jul 29, 2005

I agree with Samuel, particularly the last point, ie, ask the client rather than telling him he has made a mistake.

This puts all responsibility on the client without embarrassing him.
Most clients appreciate suggestions but you get the odd one who does not.


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