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Should proofreading/editing rates be higher than translation rates?
Thread poster: Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:17
German to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2001

As you know by now, I love provocative topics. So, here is another one (call me the \"Jerry Springer of ProZ\").



The Economist, in its IT section, recently wrote: \"... testing and debugging a new software is often more difficult and more expensive than [programming] ... \"



This got me thinking: writing the code for a new software is similar to producing a translation, and proofreading/editing would be our version of \"testing and debugging\".



Hey, we\'ve all been there: proofreading often requires even more concentration and a sharper eye for details than the actual translation process. So, should proofreading/editing rates be higher than translation rates?



I am realistic enough to know that agencies (the primary clients of proofreading/editing jobs) will never go for that, but I\'d like to know what others think. Let the carnage begin ...





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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
Sometimes yes, but not always Nov 24, 2001

The topic is important and it\'s good you started it.

One should always start from one\'s personal experience, so I will start with mine.



Recently I\'ve had to do a few proofreading jobs that were nothing less than nightmarish. The original translations were supposed to be in Serbian, so that my duty would be just to correct a few capital letters here and there, as Serbian ortographic rules are rather complicated, and maybe edit sentences for their style. The usual stuff. However, on opening the documents I realised the translations had actually been done by Croatian native speakers PRETENDING to know Serbian!!! Now, only people speaking these languages will understand why this is important, but for those unfamiliar with the differences I\'ll simplify it as this: the basic difference between Serbian and Croatian can be put down to the difference between British and American English. We understand each other perfectly, that\'s true, but no one who claims to be a serious translator can be able to do both with the native-like competence. Regardless of one\'s nationality (Serbian or Croatian) one is capable of producing only one or the other, usually the one that is spoken in the his/her environment, never both. I challenge anybody who\'s serious about translating to prove me wrong.

The differences in such a translation would be obvious and strange not only to a trained linguist like myself, but to \'ordinary\' language users as well.

So, what I had to do with this stuff was to completely re-style the \'translations\', by changing Croatian syntax into Serbian, by choosing the actual words a Serbian native speaker really would use, etc. The final outcome of my work was that the file was red instead of black, i.e. I had wasted hours trying to make sense of the translation instead of translating the whole file by myself!



The funny thing is that the price I was paid for these jobs was much higher than the one I\'d have got if I had to do the translation, since the price of proofreading was set on an hourly base, while the per-word price of translation was humiliatingly low and I spent an enormous amount of time trying to put the mess right.



I complained to the agencies pointing out the problem and they promised that those translators were sure never to get a single commission by them again. That\'s a good thing, as far as I am concerned, for several \'ambulance -chasers\' are out of business already, but there are many like them out there pretending to be able to do something they in reality cannot.



So, to make a long story short, normally, while proofreading the translations of normal, serious and responsible translators, the price should not be higher, but in cases like the ones I described above, it must. I was lucky that, for some inexplicable reason I was paid more than the translator was, but that is not always the case.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
depends on how you define teh purpose, perhaps... Nov 24, 2001

Theoretically speaking, aren\'t translators supposed to produce work to \"publication\" standard? In which case, editing/proofing would be simply the second opinion, the catch-all for those little human errors...Alternatively, it\'s the technical expert\'s review of the linguistic expert\'s work, to check terminology etc. Or vice versa.



My experience has been that kind of linguistic editing in some cases, but also I have had to substantially rewrite Spanglish.... or English where information has been poorly transferred (omitted, incorrect, etc). These latter cases are unacceptable, it\'s simply duplicated effort and cost, in the long run of no benefit to the profession....



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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Comments Nov 24, 2001

Tatjana:

Excellent example. But this is true not only of Croatian or Serbian, it is true of any translation produced by a non-native speaker (a topic that would open up a completely different can of worms).



****



Ailish:

Yes, you are right: as a professional translator you MUST produce a translation that is fit to print. If all of us were true professionals, we would not have to worry about the issue of proofreading/editing/re-translating at all. However, if you take all the \"translators\" from all over the world today, you will find that only 15% of them are true professionals. Sad, but true. Think about it: all the translation requests that we all receive via e-mail, phone or fax today make up only a small portion of the actual translation volume that is available. But most translations today are carried out by secretaries and other inhouse staff that are not even part-time translators. Classic example: some hospitals even call on the cleaning staff to interpret between doctors and patients. Or (true story): the boss saying to his secretary, \"You go to Mallorca for 2 weeks every year. So, just take a dictionary and translate this letter into Spanish.\" Most of these translations never surface again, but in some cases they send them on to translators and agencies for proofreading - and then we are supposed to make a silk purse out of a sow\'s ear??? I don\'t think so.



I guess clients need to be convinced (and educated) that it is better to hire a professional translator from the start so as to avoid these duplications and waste of time and money later on.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 13:09 ]


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stole
English to Serbian
A challenge for Tatjana Nov 24, 2001

[quote]

Regardless of one\'s nationality (Serbian or Croatian) one is capable of producing only one or the other, usually the one that is spoken in the his/her environment, never both. I challenge anybody who\'s serious about translating to prove me wrong.

The differences in such a translation would be obvious and strange not only to a trained linguist like myself, but to \'ordinary\' language users as well.

[unquote]



Now, dear...

I see that you have Croatian as one of the target languages, so would you be so kind to tell us all how precise, accurate and culturally correct could be your translations into Croatian if you are a Serb grown up, educated and still living in Serbia?

Weren\'t you shooting yourself in a foot by telling us this statement of yours?


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 17:17
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear Anonymous (user name: stole?) Nov 24, 2001

Yes, Tatjana may have shot herself in the foot, but her example was still helpful for this discussion.



It is perfectly alright to disagree, but we should try to remain on-topic without getting personal. If you wish to start another thread discussing the possibility/impossibility of translating into both Croatian and Serbian, be my guest (and you should).

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-24 18:03 ]


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Tatjana Aleksic, MA  Identity Verified
English to Serbo-Croat
+ ...
Dear Anonymous Nov 25, 2001

The Croatian as my target is there just for simple KudoZ. Please read all the data in my profile if you want to comment on something. I do not accept jobs in that combinations. Though my mother is Croatian and I spent some time living there I do not offer the service of translating into Croatian or Bosnian.



Why are you so afraid to show your identity?



And, yes Werner, maybe we should open another thread to discuss translating into non-native tongues. That will be very interesting and so much needed.


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