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Noticed a typo in a translated webpage: contact the agency or the client?
Thread poster: Anna Strowe
Anna Strowe
Local time: 12:54
Italian to English
Feb 23, 2007

I have a strange question. A while ago, I translated a large text for a website. I got the job through an agency, and therefore had no contact with the end client.

I just went on the website to see if they had put up the translation yet, purely out of curiosity. They have, but in addition to the translation, they've put a title at the top of one of the pages: "Welcomes in [company name]"

My first thought was to write to the website, introduce myself as the translator, and point out the error. (It wasn't part of the original translation; must have been added later.) Then I realized that maybe I shouldn't, that I should email the agency and mention it, and suggest that they could point it out. I could also just email the client, say nothing about being the translator, and point out the error as if I were just some random English-speaker who happened across the website.

What do you think?

Anna


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Sandy Zhu
Local time: 00:54
English to Chinese
+ ...
FYI - Contact the agency Feb 24, 2007

Interesting question.

I think you may contact the agency for this.


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:54
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Tough one Feb 24, 2007

Hi Anna,

I don't know. On the one hand it must be really tempting to introduce yourself as the translator and get the recognition etc, plus the fact they may contact you again in the future direct. On the other hand you got the job via an agency so it would be a bit like going behind their back even though your contract with them has come to an end.

I guess the right thing to do would be to tell the agency and let them contact the client. That way it makes you look good to the agency and hopefully they will give you credit for not going to the client directly. Was it a one-off job for them or do you work for them regularly? If it was your first project with them it will be a good way of keeping in touch with them and you may go to the top of their list for preferred translator in your language pair.

They will contact the client and the client will appreciate their input and they may put future work their way, which in turn may come your way:)

Good luck with your decision, let us know what you decide.

Best wishes,
Mark


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:54
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agency Feb 24, 2007

IMHO

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Andrzej Lejman  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:54
German to Polish
+ ...
I have a simple answer Feb 24, 2007

Contact the site, like every user could do.

Regards

Andrzej


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
Don't contact the site as just another user Feb 24, 2007

I too think the best option would be to contact your agency, and the second option would be to contact the website and introduce yourself as the translator.

But whatever you do, DON'T contact the site as just another user pointing out an error in the translation. The person receiving your comment may not be the same person who ordered the translation of the extra text, and they may end up blaming your agency (and you!) for the error.


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xxxcmwilliams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:54
French to English
+ ...
Tell your client, the agency Feb 24, 2007

As the agency is your client, my advice would be to contact them. I also agree with Nesrin's comment:

Nesrin wrote:

But whatever you do, DON'T contact the site as just another user pointing out an error in the translation. The person receiving your comment may not be the same person who ordered the translation of the extra text, and they may end up blaming your agency (and you!) for the error.


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 12:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
I was in a (vaguely) similar situation some months ago. Feb 24, 2007

I e-mailed the agency pointing out the problem and suggesting that either they, the agency, or I, the translator, should do the end-client the courtesy of informing them of the problem. I added that if the agency positively declined to do anything, or if the problem was not solved within a reasonable time (I suggested 2 weeks, knowing full well that a simple error on a web-page can usually be fixed in 5 minutes), then I would assume that the agency had not done anything, or had tried without success, and I would then contact the end-client myself.

The agency did not reply to me and 2 weeks later the problem was still apparent on the website. I e-mailed their webmaster with a copy of my previous e-mail to the agency, and identified myself as the translator. The error was corrected within 30 minutes and I later received a thank-you e-mail from the end-client's editor, who confirmed that the agency had not informed them of the problem.

Handling it that way, everyone had ample opportunity to act professionally, and those who did act professionally won brownie points.

MediaMatrix


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:54
German to English
+ ...
No way! Feb 24, 2007

Contact the client and they will probably shout at the agency. It could well be that the former mentions the fact that the translator told them.

For you, that would almost inevitably mean "kiss the agency goodbye."

Also, if you contact the site as "any user" the client might also shout at the agency.

Remember, clients often add/amend content to their website once it is up in whichever language (as good a reason as any to never quote: http//www.heyguyslookatmybrilliantworkhere as a reference).

If the agency points this out to the client, I would imagine that the latter would be more inclined to be grateful and correct the error, rather than seeking any "post mortem."

"Offical channels" will serve all involved in the best way, I think.


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Andrea Ali  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 13:54
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hi Anna Feb 24, 2007

Same thing happened to me two days ago. I contacted my PM at the agency to warn her about the mistake.

She was really grateful

I would never contact an end client.


My two cents


Andrea


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:54
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Depends if it is the only error on the site Feb 24, 2007

A couple of years ago I was on holiday, and wanted to show someone the web site I had recently translated. Imagine my horror when I called up the page and it was full of mistakes and German-sounding English! I knew I could not have submitted that, no matter how overworked I might have been at the time.

Once I got home again I immediately looked at my translation and compared it to the web site. It very quickly became clear that a German native speaker must have "proofread" my translation before putting the final result up there. In the event, and due to the large number of errors, I felt absolutely no responsibility to inform anyone, and left it at that.

It is really up to them what they do afterwards, as long as you did your job correctly at the time. Perhaps you can make an exception, and point it out to someone, if only the one error exists - however it is not your responsibility.

Astrid


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:54
English to French
+ ...
Contact the agency Feb 25, 2007

I agree with most of what has been said, especially Nesrin's comment - smart!

However, I just want to add that this question is a can of worms. There is a larger question behind this one, and that is: how comfortable are you with a mediocre edited version of your translation being posted online (or published on paper)?

I personally have some trouble with this, as I don't like my name to be associated in any way with something that contains errors, especially when there were none originally. Granted, our names practically never appear alongside our translations, but still, I know that it is my translation, and that is plenty for me to be upset about.

Any views on this, anyone?

[Edited at 2007-02-25 02:16]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two options... Feb 25, 2007

Anna Strowe wrote:
My first thought was to write to the website, introduce myself as the translator, and point out the error. ... Then I realized that maybe I shouldn't, that I should email the agency and mention it, and suggest that they could point it out.


You may not identify yourself as the translator -- that is privileged information.

Remember, even if someone at Company X was your client, that doesn't mean everyone at Company X is privy to the confidential items of your agreement with the client.

You have two options: inform the agency, or... inform the webmaster in your capacity as a member of the public. If you choose to contact the webmaster, do not identify yourself as a translator -- simply write about the error.

But unless you feel very strongly about your language, or unless your name is mentioned on the web site itself, I would simply contact the agency and let them know.


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:54
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
An alternative way Feb 26, 2007

I agree with the principle that you should contact the agency rather than the website or client. However, if the agency takes no action, then why not get a friend to act as a member of the public who has been upset by the error(s) on the website. They could even make a favourable comment about the rest of the English on the site or the page in question. That would protect both the agency and you.

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Shanie Ste-Marie  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:54
English to French
Did you sign an agreement with the agency? Feb 26, 2007

If you did and it contains a clause that you may not contact the end client directly, if you do the agency could certainly come after you for breach of contract...

My personnal advice would be to point it out to the agency and go no further. You did what you were paid for and even more by pointing out the mistake...

Good luck!

Shanie


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