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Difficulty understanding accents in an itnerview..What to do?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 18, 2008

I'm working on my first project for an agency. It's transcribing an interview, and it's in British English. The accents are making it difficult for me to understand what is being said half the time.

Earlier today, I asked the Project Manager what to do if something is inaudible or unintelligible. She told me to put the appropriate adjective in brackets and put a time stamp in the spot. The problem is that I would rather not load up my transcript with this. I don't want to give up on the project either.

Now what?


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
I don't think you should do it... Sep 18, 2008

I've had similar situations... client assures me that a recording on a CD is "standard Arabic", when it arrives I find out that there's an Algerian speaking in his local dialect, of which I barely understand anything. I returned it to the client with an explanation, and suggested the names of Algerian translators who may be able to do the job. I sent the CD back to the client, who really appreciated this, even though it was quite an urgent job.

It's just not worth writing "inaudible" after every other word - it will just be frustrating to you and the client.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Get a Brit to help Sep 18, 2008

If it's a big enough job to make it worthwhile, ask a British translator to proofread (proof-hear?) it for you for a percentage or an hourly rate. I'm not offering to do this myself because my hearing is not really good enough for this sort of work nowadays, but I'm sure you could find someone who would cooperate with you. You could even post it here as a job.
When you say your "first project for an agency", is that for this particular agency or for any agency?
Also, don't forget that there are many British accents, some more difficult to understand than others.

[Edited at 2008-09-18 16:13]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A clarification for Jack Sep 18, 2008

I meant that this is my first project for the specific agency.

The project is fairly small....I would get paid less than 20 USD for it. (If I complete it..I don't know if this will happen!) Part of me thinks that I should try it anyway, since I am still new and I could really use the money. I have just two years of experience and most of it is informal.

I'm close to outsourcing it to a Brit. Eighteen dollars is probably not worth all the hassle it's causing me.

Jack Doughty wrote:

If it's a big enough job to make it worthwhile, ask a British translator to proofread (proof-hear?) it for you for a percentage or an hourly rate. I'm not offering to do this myself because my hearing is not really good enough for this sort of work nowadays, but I'm sure you could find someone who would cooperate with you. You could even post it here as a job.
When you say your "first project for an agency", is that for this particular agency or for any agency?
Also, is it between a Briton and an American, or is the whole thing in a British accent? And don't forget, there are many British accents, some more difficult to understand than others.

[Edited at 2008-09-18 16:11]


[Edited at 2008-09-18 16:17]


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Nikolaj Widenmann
United States
Local time: 22:56
Member (2007)
Danish to English
+ ...
Foreign accents or British accents? Sep 18, 2008

If the accents you are referring to are native British accents, it might be better for a speaker of UK English to do the transcription. In this case, what you are labeling as "unintelligible" are really just dialectial particularities. It is my understanding that within the UK, British English has plenty of regional differences as well. Depending on how far you are into the project, you may want to explain this to the client; e.g., you could explain that you would recommend that a native British English speaker perform the job for the sake of accurately understanding any nuances inherent to British English.

On the other hand, if the accents are foreign accents, it's possible a British translator would be in the same boat as you. In that case, you would probably just want to do the best you can, even if the end product becomes replete with "unintelligibles".

Obviously, the sooner you detect these problems and decide on a solution, the better.

Good luck.


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Nikolaj Widenmann
United States
Local time: 22:56
Member (2007)
Danish to English
+ ...
I agree with Jack Sep 18, 2008

I think Jack's suggestion is an excellent option.

[Edited at 2008-09-18 16:16]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Foregin versus British accents Sep 18, 2008

They sound like native British accents.

My main concern is building trust with the agency. I have until Friday, 10am London time to finish it. Maybe someone from the UK could finish it in time.

Widenmann wrote:

If the accents you are referring to are native British accents, it might be better for a speaker of UK English to do the transcription. In this case, what you are labeling as "unintelligible" are really just dialectial particularities. It is my understanding that within the UK, British English has plenty of regional differences as well. Depending on how far you are into the project, you may want to explain this to the client; e.g., you could explain that you would recommend that a native British English speaker perform the job for the sake of accurately understanding any nuances inherent to British English.

On the other hand, if the accents are foreign accents, it's possible a British translator would be in the same boat as you. In that case, you would probably just want to do the best you can, even if the end product becomes replete with "unintelligibles".

Obviously, the sooner you detect these problems and decide on a solution, the better.

Good luck.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I've done Sep 18, 2008

I ended up posting the job here on ProZ. I'm also writing a message to the PM, explaining that I'm having a lot of trouble understanding the spoken material. I apologized for being unable to finish it, and explained that I am doing this because we both value high quality work. I added that I can do translation projects for them.

Hopefully, this will go well.


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Roxanna Delgado  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
How long is this interview? Sep 18, 2008

[quote]Srta Sara wrote:

The project is fairly small....I would get paid less than 20 USD for it.
I'm close to outsourcing it to a Brit. Eighteen dollars is probably not worth all the hassle it's causing me.


Hi Sara,

Excuse me for asking a question that is outside the scope of your post but, how long is this interview when you are only going to get out US18.00. Hopefully 2 or 3 minutes only. I do transcriptions in a regular basis for one of the agencies that I work with, and I can tell you that the rate that I charge them comes to around US8.00 to US10.00 per minute of recording. So if in your case the recording is longer than 2, or let's say, 3 minutes, you are actually losing money and time here. I can only imagine how much time you have already lost only trying to understand the accents.

I wish you good look finding someone in England (or that comes from England) who would be willing to do it for you but sincerely I find it higly unlikely.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Length of the interview Sep 18, 2008

Roxanna:

Actually, it's a lot longer. The audio file is 45 minutes long. The rate of pay is 40 cents per audio minute, for a total of $24 per hour.

It looks like I have some new messages in my inbox. Maybe one of them is from somebody offering help with this project.

--Sara

[quote]Roxanna Delgado wrote:

Srta Sara wrote:

The project is fairly small....I would get paid less than 20 USD for it.
I'm close to outsourcing it to a Brit. Eighteen dollars is probably not worth all the hassle it's causing me.


Hi Sara,

Excuse me for asking a question that is outside the scope of your post but, how long is this interview when you are only going to get out US18.00. Hopefully 2 or 3 minutes only. I do transcriptions in a regular basis for one of the agencies that I work with, and I can tell you that the rate that I charge them comes to around US8.00 to US10.00 per minute of recording. So if in your case the recording is longer than 2, or let's say, 3 minutes, you are actually losing money and time here. I can only imagine how much time you have already lost only trying to understand the accents.

I wish you good look finding someone in England (or that comes from England) who would be willing to do it for you but sincerely I find it higly unlikely.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
45 minutes for 18 dollars??? Sep 18, 2008

Is this right, that this interview is 45 minutes?
And you were gonna get 18 dollars for it???
How long do you think it takes to transcribe a 45 minutes interview in Word?
Even if you had voice recognition software that would understand everything, it would take at least the length of the interview (45 minutes) plus some manual formatting...
I assume you do not have such software, plus you said parts are not audible, so you would spend several hours transcribing it - what kind of hourly rate does it come to, if you calculate?
This does not even make minimum wage - you live in the US, right?

Please try how much text can be said in 45 minutes: open a book, any book, start a timer and start reading aloud. Stop the timer after 5 minutes. Check how much text you have read. Multiply it by 9. You will get an idea.


[Módosítva: 2008-09-18 18:35]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
On whose authority ... Sep 18, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:

I ended up posting the job here on ProZ.


... did you post this job on Proz? Is the agency aware you've done this?

Not meaning to sound rude - and I realise you have limited experience - but this is highly unprofessional if you don't have the agency's authority, which in itself is unlikely as they can source their own people to do the job.

You say your main concern is building trust with the agency. Posting one of their assigned jobs on a public forum is not the way to gain it.

If you actually received their authority, I'd be sceptical about working for them. Project management is not what you're getting paid to do and they shouldn't leave it up to you.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Not what I think she meant Sep 18, 2008

Srta may answer this herself, but I understood her to mean not that she was posting the job on ProZ but that she was posting an appeal for a British proofreader on ProZ.

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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
An explanation Sep 18, 2008

I did mention it to the PM. She hasn't gotten back to me yet.

My intentions are good. I am still learning how to manage projects and priorities. Nobody is perfect.

Personally, I think it would have looked worse if I weren't making any efforts to solve the problem.



Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Srta Sara wrote:

I ended up posting the job here on ProZ.


... did you post this job on Proz? Is the agency aware you've done this?

Not meaning to sound rude - and I realise you have limited experience - but this is highly unprofessional if you don't have the agency's authority, which in itself is unlikely as they can source their own people to do the job.

You say your main concern is building trust with the agency. Posting one of their assigned jobs on a public forum is not the way to gain it.

If you actually received their authority, I'd be sceptical about working for them. Project management is not what you're getting paid to do and they shouldn't leave it up to you.



[Edited at 2008-09-18 19:15]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
Job actually posted Sep 18, 2008

Jack Doughty wrote:

Srta may answer this herself, but I understood her to mean not that she was posting the job on ProZ but that she was posting an appeal for a British proofreader on ProZ.


Hi Jack,

I also wasn't sure initially what was meant and checked the job postings - the job is actually posted. Posting an appeal for a UK proofreader is one thing, but publicly outsourcing a job you've personally been entrusted with, without client consent, is quite another. I appreciate not everyone agrees with me on this but I have serious legal (and other) issues with this practice.

Take care
Debs

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Sara

Nobody is disputing your intentions - it's clear you acted in good faith - and you are quite right, nobody is perfect, but what you did is unprofessional.

Understandable perhaps, as you're still learning the ropes but if you find yourself in a situation like that again, the correct course of action - in my view - is to immediately come clean with the agency/client. Better still, learn to vet your jobs properly from the outset. It's far better to concentrate on that for now than take jobs you can't handle, like this one and the legal one a couple of weeks back when you couldn't meet the deadline.

All the while you are looking to solve the problem - with no way incidentally of knowing what type of job somebody else will do - the clock is ticking. The agency is supposedly in the business of sourcing the right person for the job (although why they gave this particular job to someone from the States is beyond me) and so the time would (normally) be far better spent if they did what they do best and are getting paid for, i.e. project management.

Serious agencies generally appreciate being told at the earliest possible opportunity if there is a problem.

In any event, I wouldn't actually go ahead and outsource the job until you've cleared your actions with the agency.

We all started out, we all made mistakes and continue to make mistakes. My criticism is not personal, it is meant to be constructive. My apologies if it didn't come across that way.

Regards
Debs



[Edited at 2008-09-18 20:22]


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