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Ever had to proofread a MT doc?
Thread poster: Noha Kamal, PhD.

Noha Kamal, PhD.  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
May 3, 2007

Hi,

I was recently sent a doc (by one of my valued clients) for proofreading. I was taken aback five minutes after I started on it. The document was tanslated using machine translation software!!! The client never told the company. I thought that was pretty unprofessional on the client's part. Luckily, it was only 600 words, so I decided to complete it anyway especially because the deadline was drawing near. What is even more annoying is that the client requested that only really necessary changes should be made, along with reasons why they had to be introduced! The tuth is that the quality was very poor. The rendering of meaning was laughable altogther. Anybody went through any such experience?

Best,
Noha


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:36
Dutch to English
+ ...
No May 3, 2007

But, regardless of the client, I would have sent it straight back as it doesn't fall under the scope of proofreading by any stretch of the imagination and - perhaps it's the lawyer in me - but I have a real problem with working at a loss.

Wouldn't happen because I also insist on seeing texts for "proofreading" beforehand and determining for myself whether it is in fact proofreading, editing and/or retranslating that is required before settling my fee and finally accepting the job.



[Edited at 2007-05-03 15:37]


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Noha Kamal, PhD.  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are absolutely right May 3, 2007

You know what? The problem is that in some language pairs and more especially in some areas of the world, you are expected to do everything, and end up delivering a neat, professional-looking doc, no matter how messed up the original doc was! And... all in return for flimsy rates! No wonder nobody is interested in proofreading!

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:36
English to French
+ ...
Far from sound business practices May 3, 2007


Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

I also insist on seeing texts for "proofreading" beforehand and determining for myself whether it is in fact proofreading, editing and/or retranslating that is required before settling my fee and finally accepting the job.



This information is not to be overlooked - it is in fact a golden rule for me personally.

I would also straight out refuse such jobs because what was asked of you, Noha, is not proofreading but rather copywriting - at the proofreading price. With comments to boot! This is very dishonest. However, I wouldn't be so sure that the MT copy came from the end client. I would in fact not be surprised if the "translation" came from your client who was given a contract to translate the end client's text - and decided they will use the most cost-effective solution, at the proofreader's and the end client's expense.


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Noha Kamal, PhD.  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not likely May 3, 2007

Not likely, otherwise the end client would not have asked that "only necessary changes should be made". S/he is obviously aware of the oroginal doc and I bet they were curious why it can't do, that is why they asked for reasons why changes were introduced.

If anything, this whole episode shows how end-users are badly in need of eduaction about the whole translation industry!


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Melzie
Local time: 18:36
French to English
+ ...
yes/no May 3, 2007

One of my customers was having a brochure done for his business. The service provider persuaded him that, as it was a last minute thing, he would provide the translation by a professional, English speaking, translator.
My customer went to Japan with his glossy new brochures and on the plane had a good look at them.
When he got back he rang me to ask me to have a look as some of it seemed a little strange to him (he is lower intermediate in English).
I did. I rang back. I advised him not to pay (he didn't) and am currently reworking the said brochure at an hourly rate.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
I received tests translated with Bablefish May 3, 2007

I've already seen at least three test translation that were done using Babelfish (the "translator", of course, didn't get the job).

As regards proofing really bad translations, I agree with Lawyer-Linguist and Viktoria: I reserve the right to refuse the job if it is done too badly.

In the few instances in which this happened to me, I told the customer that the translation was unsalvageable, and that, if they wanted, I could retranslate it from scratch.

Customers usually agree and ask me to retranslate the document at my translation (not proofreading) rate.


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Boris Sigalov
Local time: 19:36
English to Russian
Absolutely! May 3, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Wouldn't happen because I also insist on seeing texts for "proofreading" beforehand and determining for myself whether it is in fact proofreading, editing and/or retranslating that is required before settling my fee and finally accepting the job.


I do exactly the same: I never accept any job without having a look at it.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:36
Dutch to English
+ ...
That's not a question of geography or language pairs at all ... May 3, 2007

Noha Kamal wrote:

You know what? The problem is that in some language pairs and more especially in some areas of the world, you are expected to do everything, and end up delivering a neat, professional-looking doc, no matter how messed up the original doc was! And... all in return for flimsy rates! No wonder nobody is interested in proofreading!


... it's a question of whether you allow yourself to be pushed around as a language professional.

Whether you're in Cairo or Canterbury, you're always expected to do what it takes and produce a professional document once you've accepted the job. It's called holding up your side of the bargain.

But - and this is the important part - it's up to you to be firm at the outset, as the language professional, and decide whether you're at least going to be doing it under the correct job description - proofreading, editing, retranslation, etc - and for a commensurate rate.

Doesn't matter where you're based, if you send out the message you're there to be walked over, people will do and they'll continue to take advantage.

I'm not referring specifically to you - your case is a one-off from which you've probably/hopefully learned a valuable lesson - I'm talking generally.

I just don't understand why so many language professionals allow themselves to get suckered into jobs under the guise of proofreading, complain about it afterwards and then avoid actual proofreading like the plague, citing "I've been caught too often" as the reason, when they didn't act responsibly and assess the job first.

We probably all get caught once, but that's where it should stop. Otherwise it's pure naivety. Why allow yourself to be pushed around?

Proofreading and/or editing can actually be a welcome change of pace, an opportunity to see how other experienced professionals handle difficult issues and an important point of reference for rating your own skills.

By refusing to do it, because you actually just don't know how to put your foot down, you could well be cutting off your own nose to spite your face.

There are some that even forebodingly predict we'll all be replaced by MT one day, so why cross the proverbial picket line to help improve it?

Throw it back where it came from, simple as that.




[Edited at 2007-05-04 07:54]


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Happens more than we think May 4, 2007

Noha Kamal wrote:

The truth is that the quality was very poor. The rendering of meaning was laughable altogether. Anybody went through any such experience?

Best,
Noha


I'm willing to bet it happens all the time. I was once sent a document like that and very "kindly" supplied with the original in case I couldn't understand the translation!! They were basically asking for a translation at proof-reading rates.

I also turned it down outright. I agree with the others here: don't let yourself be pushed around!!

[Editado a las 2007-05-04 12:29]


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:36
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Standard reply May 4, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

it's up to you to be firm at the outset, as the language professional, and decide whether you're at least going to be doing it under the correct job description - proofreading, editing, retranslation, etc - and for a commensurate rate.

just don't understand why so many language professionals allow themselves to get suckered into jobs under the guise of proofreading, complain about it afterwards and then avoid actual proofreading like the plague, citing "I've been caught too often" as the reason, when they didn't act responsibly and assess the job first.

[/quote]

For all jobs that don't come from a trusted customer I have a standard reply:

"Yes, I can probably do the [translation/editing/proofreading] for you. Based on your description of the material, it will probably cost about X dollars and it will take me Y days to complete the project.
However, before committing to the project, I would like to see the material to be [translated/edited/proofread]. Once I've seen it I'll send you a firm quote."


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Noha Kamal, PhD.  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 7, 2007

Thank you guys for all your feedback. It sure feels great to know you're not the only unfortunate translator on earth
You are all right, one needs to be very firm with clients. No pampering from now on


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