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No feedback provided on "failed" translation test
Thread poster: xlationhouse
xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
Jun 9, 2007

Last week I was asked to do a free test (ITA-ENG) in the financial field for a well-known agency in Italy.

Although I had stated I would translate max. 250 words for free, the test that arrived was about 400 words (or 2500 characters including spaces). I decided to accept it anyway, because it was a press release about quarterly earnings of a company, a subject with which I am VERY comfortable (having read, analyzed, discussed and even written these in corporate jobs for many years).

I sent the test and was astonished to hear the outcome was negative. I've asked for the corrected version, or at least comments indicating what was wrong. I have received no response.

What shall I do here? Of course I will write again, using the most pleasant tone I can muster, asking for the same information. I simply must know what I could have done wrong on this easy test. However, I suspect I will not hear back this time, either.

Thank you for any advice.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:07
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
You received more than most Jun 9, 2007

You are fortunate to get any answer at all..

At the ProZ conference in Oxford a few years ago, an agency was asked exactly this question -- why didn't they reply?

The answer was simple -- by replying, at best they would find themselves drawn into an ongoing time-consuming discussion with the rejected translator. At worst, they would receive some very unpleasant replies. Much simpler and safer not to respond at all.

It may be rude of them, but it's just a fact of life in this business.



[Edited at 2007-06-09 13:20]


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Jim Tucker  Identity Verified
United States
Hungarian to English
+ ...
call, don't write Jun 9, 2007

I think you get better results that way.

But I wouldn't recommend translating more than 50-100 words for free.


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:07
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Substantive feedback is rare Jun 9, 2007

It is rare to get a well marked up translation test back.

In the case of a private company, you just have to let it be if they won't give you specifics.

In the case of an official government exam, if they won't offer you specifics, something starts to smell bad.

I will mention that the best entity I have encountered for receiving feedback is the ATA. They have practice exams which are well marked up and also offer the same for the exam itself.

Good luck with your situation.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:07
Dutch to English
+ ...
But ... Jun 9, 2007

Edward Potter wrote:

They have practice exams which are well marked up and also offer the same for the exam itself.



... unless I'm mistaken, you pay for those, right? It's part of the deal.

Back to the posting - if an agency doesn't want to provide feedback, they aren't going to - phone them, as suggested, or just move on. Their loss.

And, if you decide to do a test again in future (paid or otherwise), agree upfront that you're entitled to the marked-up version or don't bother.

Have you considered the possibility - since you say you're very experienced in the field - that your test posed a threat to the revisor, who recognised some serious competition when reviewing it?

So again, make sure in future one of the agency's freelancers isn't going to be revising the test, if you're competing for the same type of jobs, you won't necessarily get an honest response.


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:07
English to German
+ ...
Most feedback is completely off Jun 9, 2007

Feedback for translation tests often only proofs that a company's proofreader for such tests is not competent. To avoid this kind of discussions they do not give you explicit feedback.

If the press release was a current one, search for your translation on the Internet, to find if they used it. The fact that an agency is large does not have to prevent some of their staff from cheating.

As an expert in my translation fields and I am always willing to discuss things that are regarded as mistakes in translations of mine. I am always happy to learn how to improve my work.

But in case of test translations for any kind of companies, also well accepted ones, I have learned that feedback on translation tests often proofs to be more a matter of personal opinion than of right or wrong.

This is why I avoid doing unpaid test translations. They will still take the cheapest translator who did not fail their test and give you all kinds of reasons, why they cannot possibly take you, which are all your fault, of course.

Do not waste your time. You cannot make them respond, if they do not want to.

Maybe test translations without specific feedback should be a topic for the BlueBoard (WWA 1 and comment: No qualified feedback on test translation).


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xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Indeed ATA is a good model Jun 9, 2007

Edward Potter wrote:

It is rare to get a well marked up translation test back.

In the case of a private company, you just have to let it be if they won't give you specifics.

In the case of an official government exam, if they won't offer you specifics, something starts to smell bad.

I will mention that the best entity I have encountered for receiving feedback is the ATA. They have practice exams which are well marked up and also offer the same for the exam itself.

Good luck with your situation.


I passed the ATA exam years ago. I do remember the substantive feedback given both to me and to those who did not pass. Otherwise how is one to know what they did wrong (or right?)


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xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, agree up-front on receiving feedback Jun 9, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Edward Potter wrote:

They have practice exams which are well marked up and also offer the same for the exam itself.



... unless I'm mistaken, you pay for those, right? It's part of the deal.

Back to the posting - if an agency doesn't want to provide feedback, they aren't going to - phone them, as suggested, or just move on. Their loss.

And, if you decide to do a test again in future (paid or otherwise), agree upfront that you're entitled to the marked-up version or don't bother.

Have you considered the possibility - since you say you're very experienced in the field - that your test posed a threat to the revisor, who recognised some serious competition when reviewing it?

So again, make sure in future one of the agency's freelancers isn't going to be revising the test, if you're competing for the same type of jobs, you won't necessarily get an honest response.


I actually thought of this--too late. If ever I do another free test, I shall state this is a condition. (It was never a problem before - this is the first test I "failed"!)


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
did they cheat? Jun 9, 2007

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

If the press release was a current one, search for your translation on the Internet, to find if they used it. The fact that an agency is large does not have to prevent some of their staff from cheating.


I've encountered similar postings here, complaining about the "rejection" of a test or an assignment translated into English. When I look at the English, I think, "Oh, boy! Do I know why this person's work was rejected!"

But with you, xlationhouse, it's a different story. Your English is excellent. So, I immediately had the same thought as Claudia. Press releases are very short --

Average length of a press release is usually 500 words After you've written your release: Proof read! Check your spelling, grammar, and typing. ...
www.infomat.com/publications/infpu0001747.html

So, I think you may have been cheated. It's worth investigating. Given your level of English competence, if it isn't that, perhaps you made an error (to err is human) -- in which case, let it go, and get on with your life; or, as others have suggested, it could be an insecure or ignorant proofreader -- in which case, let it go, and get on with your life

From what I saw in your post, you won't be lacking for work...


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:07
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Test or free translation? Jun 9, 2007

Was it really a test or a free translation? We have had so many forums explaining that many agencies do this just to get a free translation. If it was a complete text - one that did not end mid-sentence or mid-paragraph - then I would suspect this might be the case.

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xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Haven't found it yet on the Internet Jun 9, 2007

Patricia Rosas wrote:

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

If the press release was a current one, search for your translation on the Internet, to find if they used it. The fact that an agency is large does not have to prevent some of their staff from cheating.


I've encountered similar postings here, complaining about the "rejection" of a test or an assignment translated into English. When I look at the English, I think, "Oh, boy! Do I know why this person's work was rejected!"

But with you, xlationhouse, it's a different story. Your English is excellent. So, I immediately had the same thought as Claudia. Press releases are very short --

Average length of a press release is usually 500 words After you've written your release: Proof read! Check your spelling, grammar, and typing. ...
www.infomat.com/publications/infpu0001747.html

So, I think you may have been cheated. It's worth investigating. Given your level of English competence, if it isn't that, perhaps you made an error (to err is human) -- in which case, let it go, and get on with your life; or, as others have suggested, it could be an insecure or ignorant proofreader -- in which case, let it go, and get on with your life

From what I saw in your post, you won't be lacking for work...


The interesting thing is, I didn't find "my" press release on the internet, but in searching for some phrases from it, I did find them in other press releases! So, I guess I know how to write one (no, I hadn't "lifted" the phrases from anywhere...as mentioned I've got a lot of experience in this kind of doc.) Isn't that interesting...???

Anyway, thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 03:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Why? Jun 9, 2007

Most of the people here are strongly against unpaid tests at all or free tests longer than 150 words. Why must the agencies provide any unpaid feedback? Who is going to spend all this free time "feedbacking" and emailing dozens of tests? ATA charges for it. Offer a 2-hour pay for editor's time (reasonable minimum charge) and I'm sure you'll get a feedback.

Freelancers are free hunters. Never heard of a prey returning to explain how exactly it managed to escape. Comes with the territory. Manners have nothing to do with it, pure business.


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xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The entities are not equal Jun 9, 2007

The agencies pay the translators and make a profit off of their work. This is their right, and I am completely in favor of it. But I believe it brings some responsibilities, one of them being providing feedback WHEN ASKED (which, in my experience on the agency side, is very rare). Believe it, many translators receiving a negative result on a test are NOT surprised and won't ask for feedback.

Secondly, the reviewer will already have marked up the test. No further work is required except for e-mailing or faxing the marked-up test.

Although I also agree with your statement that it's pure business, I know from long experience (again on the agency side) that it is good business to treat vendors with utmost respect - they are as important as your clients. Plus, that prospective vendor asking for feedback may just be the one worthy of a second look.

I do respect your point of view.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:07
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
a simple suggestion - do not bother yourself Jun 9, 2007

My suggestion - simply forget the issue about that agency and about their test translation. Spend your time and energy on serious translation agencies.

Also, I do not quite agree with Peter Linton that replying to the test doers is time-consuming. Well, they HAD time to write emails and order a test translation, and then "no time" to respond to a person asking for some feedback. I think that it is just a matter of simple politeness of a reputable translation agency or any other company to give feedback (even if it is negative).

+ I have noticed one tendency. The more serious the agency is, the less formalities they need from a new vendor. A serious agency (if they really need a job) simply orders the job and a serious agency has its own quality-testing system (proofreaders, revisers, etc.) who can (or shall) always revise the job done by a new person. Well, just some exceptions possible. And all those crook translation agencies ask to fill in dozens of pages of their "online application forms" (where they themselves do not know what do they want to ask for in the majority of their questions), then other formalities, then all those "urgent test translations". And I am sure that 9 of 10 of such agencies do not even have a professional and competent person to check the quality of that translation. So, how can they reply to you with a negative or a positive feedback? And, most often, esp. "test translations" with an urgent/fixed date in reality are real translations. So, as long as you do "the test" (for free) and after they receive your job, you are not interested any longer to them. And also - one more formula - "the more serious translation agency, the bigger is the probability to get a positive feedback about your test translation". All of my "negative" feedback on test translations came from all those crooks (and positive feedback from serious and reputable translation agencies).


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xlationhouse  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Jun 9, 2007

Marius,

I cannot help but agree.

I managed an agency for many, many years. Although we did of course test new vendors for "potential" jobs, I can attest that most of our stellar translators were found via "on the job" (PAID) testing, e.g., a real job in which a small piece would be given to an unknown and reviewed by a trusted editor.

It's unlikely I'll do any more free tests after this one bad experience - there is a lot of work out there without having to submit to this formality.

All the best.


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