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Advice for a tricky client situation
Thread poster: Sylvia Smith
Sylvia Smith  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
French to English
Sep 17, 2005

Hello all,

I know this has never happened to any of us, because every document we send out is perfect, but just hypothetically speaking…

Does anyone have advice on what to do if - just on the off-chance - one should happen to find an error in a document already sent to the client? I imagine it would be best to own up to it straight away, but what would be the best way to approach the client?

Thanks (on behalf of a friend of a friend, naturally),

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Andrea Re  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:26
English to Italian
+ ...
What's the problem? Sep 17, 2005


If you have found out you have made a mistake just tell them. I don't see the problem, especially I can't see why the client would be cross. What is there to be ashamed of?
If the translation was handed in a long time ago and the mistake is crucial, then, still make them aware, otherwise ....

If they are going to make a fuss and never give you work ever again because you've found a mistake in your own work, well, I tell you that it is not a big loss.


[Modificato alle 2005-09-17 14:33]

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paula13  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:26
Member (2005)
Honesty is the best policy Sep 17, 2005

Sylvia Smith wrote:

Does anyone have advice on what to do if - just on the off-chance - one should happen to find an error in a document already sent to the client? I imagine it would be best to own up to it straight away, but what would be the best way to approach the client?

Hi Sylvia,
I'd say tell them. Erring is human and your client will probably understand that even translators make mistakes.
Making one little mistake doesn't mean you didn't do a great job anyways, and if you detect it before they do, it just shows how committed you are to your work and will probably be very much appreciated.

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Andy Watkinson
Local time: 15:26
Catalan to English
+ ...
Context? Sep 17, 2005

That friend of a friend of yours has come up with a good question and, by asking about the right approach to adopt, would seem to assume that it is worth pointing out in the first place.

I'd say it depends very much on several factors.

>>>Nature of the error:
Was it a particularly important mistake?
("OK." someone will say, "Define 'important'"......but I think it should be obvious).

If the original uses three adjectives to describe a new golf complex and you only translated two of them, is that particularly important? - might be, depending on the adjective.

Was it a contract containing a mistake in the fees to be paid, or due dates, services covered...etc? Must be pointed out.

(A few years ago, I very nearly cost Michael Jackson several hundred thousand dollars in a contract I translated for a concert in Spain in a mistake I was lucky enough to spot during proofreading.

>>>Purpose of the document: (e.g, temporary).
e.g. If it was in a business document which has already been used at a meeting, should that mistake have given rise to any misunderstanding, the matter will have already been cleared up, so what's the point?

>>> Is it in a book to be`published? (e.g, permanent).
Thee may still be time to add an "errata"

As Cowper says:
"Erratum \Er*ra"tum\, n.; pl. Errata. [L., fr. errare, erratum,
to wander, err. See Err.]
An error or mistake in writing or printing.

"A single erratum may knock out the brains of a whole
passage." --Cowper

i.e. in certain cases I believe it would be a waste of time and only serve to damage the reputation of this friend - to no good purpose.

In other circumstances it may be crucial to point it out.

Why don't you ask that friend for the details and some better advice may be forthcoming?


Just edited to say:

"Thee may still be time to add an "errata"" (sic)
Ironical, isn't it?

[Edited at 2005-09-17 18:23]

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It happens from time to time Sep 17, 2005

Well, it happens from time to time. It is probably a nuisance to the client if you make a big issue of the matter because you saw a typo or a wrongly placed comma after you had already sent them the document. If that is the case, ignore it. However, if it is anything important, which I generally notice quite quickly, as I have the habit of glancing over a document once more after I have sent it, then I immediately correct it and send an e-mail along the lines of "Please now find attached the correct final version. Please disregard the first version sent.". Then you don't even need to talk about mistakes; rather, you had accidentally sent them a version that was not the final version....


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
to err is human Sep 17, 2005

We have to accept that even the most carefully translated text fully revised on screen and on paper is likely to have an error or two, not necessarily major ones. And especially when we work against the clock, as most of us do.

Translations just have to be revised, whether by a second person, or by the translator after a reasonably decent interval of time.

I assume my translations for agencies are revised... becuase it makes logical sense for any agency who conducts its business professionally not to risk problems with its clients due to 'human' error on the part of the translator.

As for private clients, I negotiate an adequate margin of time to allow me to review the text a day or so after completion.

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