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test translation for translation agency
Thread poster: Eva Stoppa

Eva Stoppa  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:01
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Dec 19, 2008

Dear list,

a few days ago I had a test translation done for a translation agency. As they didn`t send me any messages afterwords, I decided to send them an email asking for the result. By the way I wished them a nice christmas etc.
They said there were some mistakes in the translation and marked the passages in yellow. It would have been more helpful for me if there were some comments on what exactly was wrong. Having asked them the lady wrote back to me saying that she wasn`t employed there for proofreading and correcting texts.

My question to you: have you had experience with doing test translations for agencies? And if they And if they weren`t okay for them, did you get any closer feedback on your mistakes so for the next time you could improve your translations for the next custimer?

Thanks in advance for your contributions,

Eva


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 05:01
Spanish to English
It's a competition - Not a training exercise Dec 19, 2008

When a client or outsourcer requests a test translation, it is usually for the purpose of being able one question: "Can we let this person do translations for us?"
Only once have I ever received any type of comment (or change) in a text translation, and that was from an outsourcer seeking to advise me of purely stylistic differences that they would want in the translations they would send me. They did in fact use my services extensively. Of course one or two others indicated that the test translation was the swaying factor in their decision to use my services.
Having said that, why would anyone expect to receive a copy of the "winning" test or corrections to a test done? If you sent only a résumé and got no response, would you expect to receive comments from them on how to improve your cv?
These are competions from very busy people, who may be receiving anywhere from 30 to a hundred replies. Can you imagine the cost of free corrections / suggestions7 helpful comments for 100 test translations, plus coordinating the sending of the various mails needed?


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:01
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My policies Dec 19, 2008

I set my own policies for test translation:
1. Do test translation under the least priority: decline when I am busy with paid jobs.
2. Do test for 200 words or smaller jobs.
3. Do test for polite and reasonable agencies [not a free lunch runner style].
4. Do test when feedback is ensured.
5. Do test when prospected number of test repliers are informed.
6. Do test on topic under my own interesting scopes or disciplines.
7. Do test when the agency has competent reviewers/proofreaders.
8. Do test to reputable agencies.
9. Do test under potential of new contact establishment.
10. Do test to develop my own ability.

Soonthon L.


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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:01
Member (2003)
French to English
Ask a colleague Dec 19, 2008

Basically I agree with Richard, but why not ask a colleague to look at the test you've had back (offer to pay them for their time) and get some feedback that way?

Best,

Karen


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:01
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
The Kindergarten Dec 19, 2008

In high school, teachers do NOT accept undocumented essays/reviews.

In college, professors do NOT accept undocumented essays/reviews.

In all industries in the World, people do NOT accept undocumented essays/reviews/analysis and so forth.

In the translation industry, undocumented reviews are the norm (the only industry in our solar system where undocumented reviews are the "norm").
It's an unregulated kindergarten where everyone can say or write whatever they want. The "reviewer" can say whatever they want, and the project manager will believe the reviewer (because she thinks that the reviewer is an "authority" of some sort). Reviewers are translators working with the company, and they will try to keep everyone else out the door.

An agency asked me (recently) if I was willing to translate a test for them. I said "sure, as long as you send me the file from your reviewer with each change documented and explained". The answer: "we' re not sure our reviewer will be willing to do that" (!!!!!!!!!!!!).
In other words, "our reviewer can do whatever she wants and not give any explanation, any documentation". I refused.

I always document all my reviews, and project managers absolutely love that, because I give them the material to provide explanations to their clients, if needed.
It shows very high professionalism. That's why I also avoid stylistic and subjective changes. I know many "professionals" in my language who are trying continuously to destroy other people's work with undocumented "over-editing" (useless paraphrasing to create impressions). I have absolutely no respect for them.

Direct clients also love it, especially two large Medical Equipment companies with which I entered into contracts as a general translator/coordinator.

But then again, I came from industries where everything is documented... I came from a field with real professionals, 15 years ago... so I got different habits, habits of serious professionals.

Good luck.



[Edited at 2008-12-19 18:06 GMT]


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:01
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Boeing Dec 19, 2008

Maybe I'll send an email to the Boeing Corporation, with a few red markings on the wings of the Boeing 747, and with a note "there's something wrong here but I'm not telling you".

Ha ha! They' re going to laugh of course and ask me where my mother is... they'll think that I'm 5 years old, or "challenged"...

Nah, I'm a translator and that's how we do business in my industry...


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Anett Lindner
Germany
English to German
test translations Dec 19, 2008

Hi,

I only wanted to include this link to Andrei Gerasimov's article on the topic which I found most illuminating:

http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/291/1/-Marketing-Your-Translation-Services:-Test-Translations—To-Do-or-Not-to-Do?

I started again this spring and made a similar experience. Fortunately, I have found quite a few nice clients who in the beginning just set a tough reviewer on me to verify the quality of my translations. Now, I only do test translations when I can spare some time for doing them and when doing them would be fun for me.

So I'd like to close with his most brilliant insight:-) "Having analyzed the results of my marketing campaign, I have drawn the following conclusion—agencies send you either forms and tests or jobs."


Regards,

Anett


[Bearbeitet am 2008-12-19 19:40 GMT]


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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Serbian
+ ...
Like it! Dec 19, 2008

An agency asked me (recently) if I was willing to translate a test for them. I said "sure, as long as you send me the file from your reviewer with each change documented and explained". The answer: "we' re not sure our reviewer will be willing to do that" (!!!!!!!!!!!!).
In other words, "our reviewer can do whatever she wants and not give any explanation, any documentation". I refused.

I always document all my reviews, and project managers absolutely love that, because I give them the material to provide explanations to their clients, if needed.
It shows very high professionalism. That's why I also avoid stylistic and subjective changes. I know many "professionals" in my language who are trying continuously to destroy other people's work with undocumented "over-editing" (useless paraphrasing to create impressions). I have absolutely no respect for them.


Two thumbs up.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:01
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Could it be that they just compared it to another (approved) job? Dec 19, 2008

It is also a possibility, that there is no reviewer at the agency at all. The PM could just simply compare the translation with an approved one and highlight all the sentences that were not identical (or looked significantly different).
This is utterly stupid, but there ARE places where this could happen.

Once I had to deal with a Chinese agency that tried to "correct" a Hungarian translation based on two different reviews - they tried doing this without involving anybody that could read Hungarian... They replaced words within sentences - conjugations, inflections: who cares about those?? - we shouldn't be too picky, should we???





[Módosítva: 2008-12-19 22:47 GMT]


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darkokoporcic  Identity Verified
Slovenia
Local time: 11:01
German to Slovenian
+ ...
Choose your potential business partners carefully in the first place Dec 19, 2008

I believe a translator should be as prudent and careful when choosing his/her business partners as any other business person. It means that samples should be provided only to trustworthy agencies.

I have a few basic rules of my own. I never talk to people offering less than 80% of my target price. I am suspicious about agencies from low cost regions (although I know there are wonderful professionals there too). I don't waste time with offers where more than one intermediate is evident. And I don't even answer e-mails offering illogical business relations (for instance, if an agency from India or Israel is looking for translators from German into CE languages for a Swiss client).

My advice: look for honest people, serious professionals who don't have to squeeze you or cheat in order to make a living. I don't think any of those will ever reject a good test translation. If, on the other hand, you get rejected most of the time, try to specialize and not to accept work (test or paid) in fields you do not know well enough.


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Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:01
German to Portuguese
+ ...
S Dec 20, 2008

Several times mention here:
Ask in the restaurant at the corner for a Steak sample


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ask a colleague Dec 20, 2008

Karen Stokes wrote:
Basically I agree with Richard, but why not ask a colleague to look at the test you've had back (offer to pay them for their time) and get some feedback that way?


Indeed. Very good advice.


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Elodie Bonnafous  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:01
German to French
+ ...
- Dec 20, 2008

Instead of shaking your head at the yellow passages, compare them once again with the source text.

As a competent translator and linguist, you are supposed to be able not only to translate, but also to understand what the corrector (whether he was right or not) disagreed with when marking those passages. If you are certain your translation ist correct, why not making a chart containing in column no 1 the source word/sentence, in column no 2 your translation and in column no 3 your comment and explanation on why your translation is definitely correct?

I have also noticed that some proofreaders do not make any distinction between a real mistake in the translation (wrong technical term, grammatical error), and superficial questions of style (replacing a word by its synonym).

The other problem with proofreaders is that in many cases, they are not as competent as the translator himself (in general, concerning the respective area of expertise of the text, or they are not really proficient in the target language).
I had many times the problem that my translations of contracts or of general terms and conditions were degraded by proofreaders who replaced the specific legal terms with common words, just because they were ignorant of the "legal tongue"!

With that comment chart, you won't get the job you originally applied for, but at least you'll show the agency that you're serious and competent, and you'll have the possibility to see if they react in a professional way or not.

Anyway, getting no feedback at all for a test is very common.
I do not do any test anymore. No time.


[Bearbeitet am 2008-12-20 11:46 GMT]


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Elodie Bonnafous  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:01
German to French
+ ...
agencies send you either forms and tests or jobs. Dec 20, 2008

Anett Lindner wrote:

I have drawn the following conclusion—agencies send you either forms and tests or jobs.


I had never seen it that way. But you're so right...

I had decided to stop making test translations last year after making for the 2nd time a 600-word test for a french translator based in England.
I cannot understand how I could be so naive. She does it all the time and never gives any feedback or job (indeed, the test IS the job). After I read some comments on her here, I decided to stop doing tests at all.

But Anett is so right: filling out those forms takes sometimes more time than a test translation, and never leads to a job. From now on, I won't fill any form anymore.


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