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How to deal with a poor quality recording I am translating?
Thread poster: august28
august28  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Aug 13, 2003

I'm doing a translation at the moment of a video recording of marketing interviews. The quality of the tape is not great together my feeling of unfamiliarity with some of the accents mean that I have found it impossible to translate around 5-10% of the script. I've already given it to an Italian person for extra help but although he filled in some blanks there were some he could not manage.
What should I tell the agency? How should I deal with this?


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:16
Dutch to English
+ ...
Problems with sound Aug 13, 2003

I suppose you are delivering a file with written text and not a tape. I usually put some code in the document and tell the customer that it means that I could not understand what they were saying (for example three highlighted question marks). I think this is quite normal. People do not always talk clearly and often they forget that they are being recorded. I had to transcribe and translate a police tape once. What a nightmare. I think that in total 5 mobile telephones decided to ring while the suspect was being interviewed!

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:16
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Do it as a descriptive report Aug 13, 2003

I had something like this only a few days ago. Small passages of spoken Russian in a basically Lithuanian programme. I too had problems with Russian spoken with Lithuanian and gypsy accents. I presented it as what at BBC Monitoring we called a "video report", describing briefly what was going on, transcribing what I could and paraphrasing the rest. It came to about three quarters of a page. I phoned the agency, read it to my contact there and asked if this would be satisfactory. It was, so I sent it. If yours is much longer than this, produce a small amount as a sample and see what they think of it.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:16
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes. hourly Aug 13, 2003

Agree with Tayfun about charging an hourly rate. That's what I did. It came to twice what it would have been for that amount of straight text, but the agency was quite willing to pay it.

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Lesley Clayton
France
Local time: 15:16
French to English
+ ...
What I do Aug 14, 2003

I think you should have been provided with a written transcript of the video, transcribed by a native of the language concerned. Then, it is your job to translate that transcript with the video recording as a reference.

I sometimes transcribe conference sound files where the content is in English (my native language) but spoken by people whose native language is not English and it is not always easy to understand what they are saying. I am also provided with any reference materials such as slides, terminology etc. My transcription is then sent to a native French translator to be translated into French.

The same happens in reverse when I have to translate the conference into English: it has been transcribed by a Franch native and again, I am provided with any reference materials.

I have never had to translate directly from a sound file and I think I would refuse if asked.

Where I am not sure I have heard correctly, I highlight the word I think it is in yellow along with the time on the sound file. If I haven't a clue what is is, I just highlight the time in yellow. This is done in the text itself. However, the texts are then edited by someone else.

Hope this helps.


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Jane Lamb-Ruiz  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
[illegible] and [inaudible] Aug 14, 2003

I wouldn't trouble myself unduly. In legal texts, when a word, phrase or sentence can't be read, common practice is to type [illegible]. All you have to do is type [inaudible] because you can't hear what the speakers are saying....:) Cheers

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Pat Jenner
Local time: 14:16
German to English
+ ...
hourly charge Aug 14, 2003

I fully agree with the other posters who suggest that you should charge by the hour for this type of work. Your problem will be that you presumably took this job on a different basis. What I would suggest is that you contact the client and tell them that it is proving more time-consuming than expected and ask them if they will revise the basis. They probably won't. In that case, the only way of avoiding spending unremunerated hours is to tell them that whenever anything is unclear after two hearings you will mark it as inaudible.

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