Clueless clients
Thread poster: OlafK
OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:51
English to German
+ ...
Dec 17, 2007

Do you ever get sent files for translation and there is something strange in it you don't understand and, when you ask the client, they don't know what it means either (not an agency but the end client and according to file properties the author)? It's obviously a cut-and-paste job and the "author" didn't even read the text entirely before sending it out for translation. The frustrating thing is that you can't tell the client off ("It's a marketing text. If you and I don't understand it how is your customer supposed to know what you're talking about?"). You just grin and bear it and next week the same thing happens again.

[Edited at 2007-12-17 15:41]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Education Dec 17, 2007

You don't "tell them off", but you do approach it from that standpoint, that if you and I do not understand it, the potential customer or other intended reader will not either. Your opinion should be valuable to them, and that is an added advantage, especially since you are only charging them for translation.

Get them to look at it that way.


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:51
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
They don't understand Dec 17, 2007

They keep explaining individual words to me as if I didn't understand them which I find offensive in itself. While I try to explain that the problem is not with individual words but the way they are put together. For example someone is selling package tours including leisure activities. One of those activities is named "5 donkeys and a horse". Then you ask them what this is about and they explain to you what donkeys and horses are. They're hopeless.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hopeless Dec 17, 2007

Well, some people ARE hopeless, which is something that is bound to reflect on their bottom line sooner or later. I don't know who you are talking to in the organization, you might try talking to several others and maybe find someone who understands. But if nobody does, then they're hopeless.

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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:51
English to German
+ ...
I usually explain to the client the risk they take Dec 17, 2007

Olaf Knechten wrote:
Do you ever get sent files for translation and there is something strange in it you don't understand and, when you ask the client, they don't know what it means either (not an agency but the end client and according to file properties the author)?


Normally, I ask very specific questions and try to collect as much background information as possible, as I am sure every one of us would.

If they do not answer or are unable to provide a useful answer, I explain that it always enhances the translation if I fully understand what is behind some title, abbreviation or proper name, and that I can only do a literal translation, keep an abbreviation or make a best guess, if they do not provide the necessary background info.

Then I give some examples and let them decide what to do. Sometimes the communication gets better afterwards and you can prepare a real translation, sometimes it does not and you have to give your best guess. If this is what they want there is not much you can do about it, except stop working for them if you do not need the money and have a contract with this option.
I'd inform them about the risk they take, and make it very clear that it is their decision and responsibility so they cannot come back to you afterwards and tell you that your translation was bad and that it was your fault.

Of course you should not make a habit of such projects and try to drop customers who always work like that as soon as possible because in the long run they will damage your reputation.

In an ideal world we would always be able to deliver good and solid translations we can feel happy about and that would really help our customers. In the real world ... well, you have to decide what you are able and willing to take.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 01:51
English to Russian
+ ...
Sorry, could not resist:-) Dec 18, 2007

Olaf Knechten wrote:

"5 donkeys and a horse".


Is there a picture showing five tourists on their first horseback riding lesson:-D


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