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What to do with a poor translation
Thread poster: Anila Mayhew

Anila Mayhew  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:43
English to Albanian
+ ...
May 29, 2002

Here is my situation: A translation agency has given me a target text previously translated by another translator that needs to be updated according to new changes in the source text. My job is to go into the target text and add only the new changes from the source text. However, it didn\'t take long to see what a bad translation the target text is. There are major mistakes. There is even whole sentences that have been left out. It is a very bad translation and I am wondering why the agency is not going back to that same person with the continuation of the project.



I contacted the project manager and expressed my concern. The response I got was that the client has reviewed and approved the original translation and that I should only focus on the new changes.



However, my little conscience has been bothering me and I don\'t know what step to take next since I truly believe that unless those mistakes are taken care of, there will be a lot of problems when the text goes in the hands of the target language readers.



Has anyone had a similar experience? Any suggestions?


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Bart B. Van Bockstaele  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:43
Dutch
+ ...
There is not much you can do May 29, 2002

There are many possible reasons for mistakes.



Sometimes, the translation is really bad. I\'ve had to correct translations made by translators with really impressive CV\'s, some had won international prizes, a few were active university professors. Their mistake? They simply didn\'t know the subject.



Sometimes, the translation is too literal or too free, usually also an indication that the translator doesn\'t know the subject.



Oftentimes, the original translator isn\'t the one to blame. The proofreader/editor \'corrected\' the mistakes.



Sometimes, there is a person working for the end customer who is outraged by what he/she perceives as ridiculously high translation fees and offers his/her services as part of his/her job. These people have \'something to prove\' and can be extremely dangerous and totally destroy you.



Sometimes, the end customer is fully aware of the mistakes and still insists on keeping them. More often than not, this is not negligence but genuine fear for negative comments from their existing customer base.



In all cases, I attach one or more pages where I point out the mistakes and their corrections. I do that for the translation *and* for the source text. I usually never hear any comments. But my customers always seem to come back. That\'s comment enough for me.













[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-29 06:38 ]


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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
English to German
+ ...
Agree with Tayfun May 29, 2002

Me being in your shoes, I would either insist to redo the whole thing (i.e. source and target text) and to get paid for quality decently, or return the job and tell them that I am not willing to take responsibility for rubbish based on which I will be enforced to deliver rubbish, too. Tell them you are not willing to get exposed with your reputation. Therefore, either a good job or none at all.

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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:43
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Steffen May 29, 2002

I would not accept the job under the conditions imposed.

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Camaxilo  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Advice May 29, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-05-29 05:27, Mayhew wrote:

Here is my situation: A translation agency has given me a target text previously translated by another translator that needs to be updated according to new changes in the source text. My job is to go into the target text and add only the new changes from the source text. However, it didn\'t take long to see what a bad translation the target text is. There are major mistakes. There is even whole sentences that have been left out. It is a very bad translation and I am wondering why the agency is not going back to that same person with the continuation of the project.



I contacted the project manager and expressed my concern. The response I got was that the client has reviewed and approved the original translation and that I should only focus on the new changes.



However, my little conscience has been bothering me and I don\'t know what step to take next since I truly believe that unless those mistakes are taken care of, there will be a lot of problems when the text goes in the hands of the target language readers.



Has anyone had a similar experience? Any suggestions?



You have to choices: do the work per the manager\'s specifications and get things written speciying what you did, so toy don\'t get implicated, in a ball of wax; or decline to do the work and let it be, someone else\'s headache.

[/quote]

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
French to English
to accept or not to accept May 29, 2002

If you decide to accept it, then make sure the agency clearly :

- identifies the precise parts you are to deal with,

- states that you are not liable for anything other than the parts you work on



Never the less, even in this situation, make it clear that you have noted apparently major errors and ommissions for which you cannot be held responsible.



Whether you accept or refuse, keep copies of everything. An untouched copy of the version sent to you and another version of what you sent to the agency.



In either case, keep copies of everything exchanged with the agent.



Quite honestly though, if you are sufficiently nervous to doubt and ask our opinion, I suspect this is one best left by the wayside. If the agency gets sticky and/or you are worried about them not coming back to you, then think twice anyway. Are these the sort of people you wish to work with?



An agency which does not listen to you, is perhaps one which may not hesitate to throw the ball into your court if the client starts to kick up a fuss.



I suspect this is one I would refuse. I would also have my eyes wide, wide open on future jobs too.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-29 14:22 ]


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Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 11:43
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You must listen to your little conscience, I think... May 29, 2002

I believe this is a potentially sticky situation for you. Not only it is bad, professionally (you will have to use the incorrect terminology the translation already has, for one, and I don\'t believe you can do that in good conscience), but also, if the filth ever hits the fan, you may end up being the scapegoat for the whole thing. Here we\'ve got someone who has okayed a bad work and they do not want to own up to it; I just don\'t see them taking the blame for any future problem.



If you want to go ahead with this, be extra-extra careful, keeping copies and your correspondence as suggested, and preparing a report of all the things that, according to you, are not right. But you must really ask yourself if you do want to work with an agency that basically tells you \"shut up and do as you\'re told.\" After all, it\'s your reputation that is at stake.


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Anila Mayhew  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:43
English to Albanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone May 29, 2002

Your comments have been very helpful to me. I guess this is one of those situations when you learn and watch out for in the future. I accepted the job before my discovery for the simple reason that I had worked for the same agency before and considered them to be very professional.



However, I will make sure I have copies of everything including my comments regarding the quality of the original translation and their response. And even though, I don\'t have much time I will make it a point to at least give samples of mistakes so that they can see it for themselves. Some of those mistakes are so obvious that all I need to do is point them out and anyone would see them even though they might not know the target language at all.



I guess we have to start being careful even with our \"good\" clients/agencies no matter what the experience has been before.



Thank you again everyone. The generosity of ProZ translators has always amazed me even though many times outsourcers try to take advantage of it.



Anila





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jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:43
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Classic lose-lose situation May 29, 2002

Anila, I feel sorry for you in this case.



If you refuse the job, you will likely never get another from that agency.

If you do the job according to your conscience, you may not get another job from the agency, you may not get paid for this one, but you will feel better.

If you do the job according to the project manager\'s instructions, you may not be able to sleep at night.



What to do?



I would follow the PM\'s instructions. However, I would then write a note (white paper? tome?) that lays out your concerns with specific examples of shortcomings and what YOU would have done to remedy it. You need not provide many examples, just of few of the worst ones.



Then, you sit back because you have done all that you can. You can sleep soundly in the knowledge that you have done your duty.



If it comes to someone\'s attention that YOU did the entire translation, you can produce your note and explain that you had specific instructions to stick to only certain parts of the text.



My take on it.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
REJECT THE JOB..... May 29, 2002

.... as a matter of principle. It\'s just not advisable to get involved.

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xxxAnneM  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
tricky all round May 29, 2002

I think everybody is right in what they suggest but basically the decision is up to you. I imagine this is a tricky situation for the agency as they would have to acknowledge to the client that basically the first job they did for them was a load of ****, for which they probably charged them tons of money! So they have probably decided to continue with the sham or at least the PM has. Who knows, maybe they are a decent agency in all other respects and it would be a shame to lose your good relationship with them over something which should not be your concern. This is what they have chosen to do - it is between them and the client and it is their reputation that is at stake, not yours. As everybody else has suggested, if you do decide to go ahead with the job, make sure that everything is clearly laid down from the start. Make your opinion known and make sure you are being paid enough to compensate the work this involves.

I\'ve had to edit updates, update edits, edit updated edits and update edited updates over the last three weeks and there has been terrible stuff going around. Luckily, I\'m with an agency who cares!

Good luck!

Anne







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Alan Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:43
German to English
Refuse Jun 1, 2002

I have been in the same situation. Reference documents, a glossary and a TM were provided. I was instructed to strictly adhere to the given terminology and references. I looked through these before starting the job and to my dismay realised that they were of abominable quality. I got in touch with the agency and told them that the documents provided were not only of poor quality, but also contained a large amount of grave mistakes. No, stick to what is given, was the answer, they had done alot of translating for the client and all the documents had to \"fit\" together. I told them that was not the way to work, but they insisted. I did the job, but I felt so bad about it that a gave them a lecture on professional ethics when I delivered, wrote a disclaimer and told them I would now work for them again under similar conditions - never heard from them again.....

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Alexandru Pojoga
Romania
Local time: 16:43
Japanese to English
+ ...
Their original translator screwed up, they're getting a cheap fix Jun 6, 2002

The agency knows the translation is fouled up, but why admit it and pay full fees when they can play innocent, ask you to translate \'changes only\' and hope to God you\'re decent enough to redo the whole thing just as a matter of professional integrity.



IMHO they\'re not that ignorant.


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:43
Dutch to English
+ ...
I agree with all of those..... Jun 16, 2002

that recommend rejecting the job. You will regret it if you continue. Would you be happy sending back 50% good work and 50% rubbish? If you reject the work, explaining your reasons, the client will not think any less of you, on the contrary if they are worth anything they will respect your decision. If they don\'t, they are not worth working for anyway. What have you got to lose? Headaches, grief,stress and utter frustration. I have been in the same position, and I know how you feel.



My advice is have confidence in your own ability. I can assure you it will not be the last translation job you get offered, so where\'s the problem?


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:43
French to English
Refusing a job = losing a client?? Jun 16, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-05-29 16:36, jccantrell wrote:

If you refuse the job, you will likely never get another from that agency.





I\'m not sure why you\'re assuming that the client wouldn\'t call upon her services again if she refused the job.



I\'ve refused many jobs, mainly because of lack of time, and have always heard back from the client.



This is simply not true.



Erika



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