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Do the clients' wrong opinion about your language disappoints you?
Thread poster: Mrudula Tambe

Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:24
English to Marathi
+ ...
Jan 30, 2006

Sometimes you are sure about your translated job and the client who is not at all related to your language gives wrong opinion about your translation either about words or pancuation. Does it disappoint you? Or you just ignore his/her opinion and continue the job of translation in the same manner.

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:54
... Jan 30, 2006

Ah, but they don't think they're wrong
If they're able to back up what they say, then by all meanslisten to what they have to say. If that's not the case, then their point is much weaker.

[Edited at 2006-01-30 10:18]


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:54
Member
English to Spanish
Not necessarily a bad thing Jan 30, 2006

It's slightly frustrating but also an opportunity to show them their project is in the hands of a professional (and that they really need one) by explaining why your choices are the correct ones. I used to find it a bit annoying but now I realise that sort of client is in fact giving me an easy way to fidelize them... at least they care (in their own way) about the quality of the translation and so are less likely to quit you for a cheaper competitor (as far as you manage to back up your choices with solid arguments, of course).

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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
German to English
+ ...
Listen, Consider and Give Your Opinion Jan 30, 2006

Some clients actually know what they're talking about; others just think they do. Some politely ask a question; others demand they know better.

However they express themselves, I believe - like Orla said - that you should listen to what they are saying, consider whether or not you think they have a valid point and give them your honest opinion (try to do it politely, even though they are sometimes far from that). At the end of the day, it's unfortunately up to them what they do with the translation they purchase (as we all know, many translations get raped and mutilated once the translator has handed them over), but you should definitely make sure you give them your opinion - if this is a big issue, it's often better to do it in writing, so that should they come back to you, complaining about THEIR mistake, you have proof that it was indeed THEIR mistake!

It's frustrating, but sometimes it seems that some of them only want to hear what they want to hear. A German who has done an English degree or studied a year in England generally has less expertise than someone who is English and who has grown up in England and is a professional translator, but sometimes they just don't get it and I have come to the conclusion that life is too short to tear my hair out about this - I will give them my opinion, but if they argue and disagree, that's their problem and not mine.

Take care and don't let the xxx grind you down!

Sarah

[Edited at 2006-01-30 11:43]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
If I'm right, I explain... Jan 30, 2006

"Everybody speaks English" or thinks they do in this global world, so clients do sometimes try to change my translations.
I double check when this happens, but when I'm right, then I explain politely why.

(If I have made a mistake, then I apologise and try like mad to get them to explain more, so that I sound as conscientious as I try to be... I usually get away with it!)

When I'm right, or can defend my point of view, it gives a big bonus. Usually clients learn something new. They see that I do know my job, and have taken the trouble to get the details right. So they come back again.

The way terms are used, for instance in legal language, may be different from the way they are used in everyday speech. In Danish there is a strict system for setting commas, but if you use them in the same way in an English sentence, then it may alter the meaning completely. (This is not always as obvious as it sounds, because the languages are closely related.)

There are 'false friends' where Danish has adopted English words, but they don't always use them in exactly the same way.

Usually we have a good talk or exchange some friendly e-mails, and I try to get the client to tell me something new too. It shows I respect them and it is often useful later!

Sometimes I rephrase the sentence for them anyway. Everything can be said in more ways than one, and then they don't lose face, even if my translation was correct.

It's an opportunity to work on your clients and show them how good you are - take advantage of it!


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Katherine Mérignac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:54
Member (2004)
French to English
What do you do? Jan 30, 2006

What do you do about this? Over the last year this has happened to me for 3 jobs (out of about 180), and I felt absolutely terrible about it - I even said that one client could have it for free... in retrospect, I think this was a huge mistake, but that's another story!

I've only been established full-time for a year, and I think this is why I still take this kind of thing so personally... but I find it terribly difficult when you've put so much into a project to then have someone (who's not even English) pick at it.

I think we'll all agree that the perfect translation doesn't exist, and that styles may change from translator do translator. But does anybody ever actually offer a discount in this situation, or do you just have to grit your teeth and say 'I'm right'?


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 01:54
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Check, and if you're right - give references! Jan 30, 2006

I always check if the customer might have a point, because these things DO happen! Nobody's perfect, you know - except me, of course

But, when I know I'm right, I try to find any kind of reference that the client can have a look at to verify that I'm right (obviously I try to find links on the internet for this purpose, since the customer would probably not have my English-Danish dictionaries etc. at hand).

I always explain in a good tone that I appreciate their concern, but that I also would not change anything because .... explanation and a link or two for reference.

Of course, if I'm wrong, I can never stop apologising for this mistake, and then I wait for the customer's response to see if a discount is wanted or simply a rectification of the implicated part (the latter has been the case so far).

And, by the way, I find such questions to be a good way for me to check up on myself, because I'm being challenged on my knowledge. I sometimes start doubting myself in such situations, but I hate to roll over just like that, so I search for references in stead to proof that I'm right - and it does pay off!


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Maaike van Vlijmen  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:54
Member (2009)
Italian to Dutch
+ ...
exploding isn't the best way...but it gives relief! :-) Jan 30, 2006

I work for a company and the manager thinks he knows better than me, but he doesn't. Last year we disagreed a few times and I couldn't bear it. It was about simple things in our mother tongue (Dutch). He gave me some papers to check for spelling errors, and in the end he didn't use my corrections. I exploded, because I was SURE I was right, I could explain why, and he still didn't believe me. The worst part was that the issues were so basic, I mean it was like: is it "animal" or "animol", you know, stuff like that.
Well, exploding wasn't the best way to handle it, I can tell you that...but it gave some relief, because I felt he didn't take me seriously at all. Now I just change things when I see mistakes, and when he changes them back, I change them again, and again, and again... It's hard arguing with stupid people who think they're smart...and there are so many of them!!


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 01:54
questioning oneself Jan 30, 2006

Mrudula Tambe wrote:
Sometimes you are sure about your translated job and the client who is not at all related to your language gives wrong opinion about your translation either about words or pancuation. Does it disappoint you? Or you just ignore his/her opinion and continue the job of translation in the same manner.


Before I get mad or disappointed if a client complains, I start by questioning the quality of my work: I read through it again to make sure that my syntax, grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing style are flawless.
If this isn't the case, then I would be solely responsible and guilty either for having worked to fast, without sufficient proofreading, or in a field I know nothing about or, if complaints were frequent, maybe even for selling my services in a profession I'm not competent to practice and I'd consider changing job.
If it is, then I discuss things with the client again: if it's a question of style or choice of synonyms, there's no reason to be disappointed or offended, since this is about preferences and tastes. If it's a question of specific terminology where I know my client is the expert, then I listen carefully, ask questions, possibly defend my choices, and insert the correct terms in my glossaries to make sure I'll use the right terms on the next job.
But first and foremost, I make sure I never turn in a job with spelling or grammatical or syntactical mistakes.
df

[Edited at 2006-01-30 22:40]


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PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 01:54
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Sad, but true! Jan 30, 2006

Maaike Anne wrote:

It's hard arguing with stupid people who think they're smart...and there are so many of them!!


Sad, but true! This is exactly why I provide links. Most of time I can rely on sending links for the Danish national dictionary which - incidently and luckily - is available online. And we are talking about the OFFICIAL Danish dictionary ;o)


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:54
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
customer perception Jan 31, 2006

This question about customer option comes at a time when I just received the following statement by email at work the other day:

Customer Perception: A phrase commonly used by any supplier…..”It is not true, this is just your perception”. Customer perception is reality to them and it does not matter if it is true or not. Even if we are right, it is our fault that they have the wrong perception. So please let’s stop using this term and let’s change their perception rather than refute it.

Jeff


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Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:24
English to Marathi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I always suffer this problem Jan 31, 2006

Mrudula Tambe wrote:

Sometimes you are sure about your translated job and the client who is not at all related to your language gives wrong opinion about your translation either about words or pancuation. Does it disappoint you? Or you just ignore his/her opinion and continue the job of translation in the same manner.


Especially when it is English --> Marathi (one of the main 40 Indian languages) job, they don't like good and pure translation. What they want is transliteration (original english words). Even if they accept the translation they argue about panctuation though I'm good with Sanskrit which has perfect grammar and which is mother of all Indian languages. I do not argue with them because money has sound and not the knowledge has. The customer (who pays) is sovereign.

Very rare customers can provide better solution/suggestion and who have a good knowledge base.

Someday I'll be a translator whose word will be final in my field. Then I think nobody will force me to change my perfect translation into imperfect words.

Mrudula.
*


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Katherine Mérignac  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:54
Member (2004)
French to English
Reassuring! Jan 31, 2006

I've found your comments reassuring and it's a relief to find out that this kind of thing happens to all of us. I particularly liked Maaike Anne's story (bon courage!).

I agree, it's important to be able to provide reasons 'or proof' justifying the choice of words/phrases - and to stand ground if you feel comments are unjustified. It's also, as many have pointed out, equally important to recognise mistakes and learn from them.

Thanks, Mrudula, for starting this one - it's been interesting hearing about other experiences!

K.


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