Which are the most common problems faced by translators and interpreters?
Thread poster: Aquileo
Aquileo
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 26, 2003

I'm currently doing a research paper regarding problems in translating and interpreting. What is your personal experience? What would you say is the most common problem? Do you think that it may be solved? I've heard that the most common problem is misunderstanding of general public on what to expect from a translator or interpreter. Any comments?

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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
German to Italian
+ ...
my opinion Nov 27, 2003

Aquileo wrote:

What would you say is the most common problem? Do you think that it may be solved? I've heard that the most common problem is misunderstanding of general public on what to expect from a translator or interpreter. Any comments?


Apart from technical problems, financial problems (e. g. customers not paying) etc., which other professionals face, too, I would say there are many misunderstandings about translators and interpreters. Many people think they're just the same. And many customers (at least companies, not agencies) think that translating into a foreign language is just as easy as translating into one's own mother tongue. However, you can find here http://www.proz.com/topic/11023 a thread I posted some time ago about this "mythology". It's in Italian, but if your mother tongue is Spanish I'm sure you can understand most of it (and by the way, these people would think you can translate into Italian even if you've never studied it... there's actually no difference between Spanish and Italian, is there? ) There's a similar thread in English, probably in this forum. Bye

ps sorry Aquileo, I've just seen in your profile that you also speak Italian. So it's even better

[Edited at 2003-11-27 19:48]


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 06:55
German to English
Translating = typing into another language Nov 27, 2003

From time to time prospective clients contact me to have documents "typed into English" from German. They're absolutely astounded to learn that 50 pages will take the better part of a week instead of just an afternoon.

Direct clients aren't the only ones who expect impossible deadlines. Agencies have contacted me late in the day with a request for a sizeable number of pages to be translated by morning. Although I have pulled "all-nighters" it's been due to issues on my end of the process, not at the client's request.
Kevin


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Aquileo
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree!!! Nov 28, 2003

Lorenzo Lilli wrote:

Aquileo wrote:

What would you say is the most common problem? Do you think that it may be solved? I've heard that the most common problem is misunderstanding of general public on what to expect from a translator or interpreter. Any comments?


Apart from technical problems, financial problems (e. g. customers not paying) etc., which other professionals face, too, I would say there are many misunderstandings about translators and interpreters. Many people think they're just the same. And many customers (at least companies, not agencies) think that translating into a foreign language is just as easy as translating into one's own mother tongue. However, you can find here http://www.proz.com/topic/11023 a thread I posted some time ago about this "mythology". It's in Italian, but if your mother tongue is Spanish I'm sure you can understand most of it (and by the way, these people would think you can translate into Italian even if you've never studied it... there's actually no difference between Spanish and Italian, is there? ) There's a similar thread in English, probably in this forum. Bye

ps sorry Aquileo, I've just seen in your profile that you also speak Italian. So it's even better

[Edited at 2003-11-27 19:48]


I agree with what you wrote on the thread you posted. Most people here in Mexicali (a city in northern Mexico) think that by simply studying a language you are able to translate. I stand for the idea that you need to know more than the language itself. It is important to understand the culture and historical background of the county (countries) in which that language is spoken. What do you think about this?


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HRiley  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing Nov 28, 2003

My most dreaded scenario is when clients with limited knowledge of either the source or target language take it upon themselves to revise my translation, proudly informing me that I've made mistakes ("that's not how you say xxxxxx in English"), or that there are omissions because I've reordered the syntax or sentence structure.

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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
German to Italian
+ ...
right Nov 28, 2003

HRiley wrote:

My most dreaded scenario is when clients with limited knowledge of either the source or target language take it upon themselves to revise my translation, proudly informing me that I've made mistakes ("that's not how you say xxxxxx in English"), or that there are omissions because I've reordered the syntax or sentence structure.


I couldn't agree more! This is sooo frustrating. Of course we know that a good knowledge of a foreign language is not enough to be a translator, but most people (I mean, apart from translators) just can't understand it.


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Empty Whiskey Glass
Local time: 13:55
Bulgarian
+ ...
My opinion Nov 29, 2003

Lorenzo Lilli wrote:

HRiley wrote:

My most dreaded scenario is when clients with limited knowledge of either the source or target language take it upon themselves to revise my translation, proudly informing me that I've made mistakes ("that's not how you say xxxxxx in English"), or that there are omissions because I've reordered the syntax or sentence structure.


I couldn't agree more! This is sooo frustrating. Of course we know that a good knowledge of a foreign language is not enough to be a translator, but most people (I mean, apart from translators) just can't understand it.


Great topic!

Many people consider transaltion to be a finished product. That is, a customer comes to you and asks for a paper to be translated and you're expected to produce the translation immediately. Many people also thing that being an interpreter means that you know every single word of a language.

Another issue that sometimes makes me laugh is that every cutomer considers his text being of general nature, although such text is , for example, about oils, machinery, or some medical issue, just because they are familiar with the terminology.

As for interpreting, the commonest difficulty I've had is that sometimes people who understand the SL, start talking before I have interpreted the unit. Similarly, lack of coherence may be very dangerous for the interpreter, as he may lose the meaning, if any at all.


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Aquileo
Mexico
Local time: 03:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hard to deal with clients Nov 29, 2003

HRiley wrote:

My most dreaded scenario is when clients with limited knowledge of either the source or target language take it upon themselves to revise my translation, proudly informing me that I've made mistakes ("that's not how you say xxxxxx in English"), or that there are omissions because I've reordered the syntax or sentence structure.


How do you deal with clients that try to correct your work? It would be interesting for me to add this kind of experiences in my research paper because it is mostly an attitude from the client rather than knowledge about the language, from my personal point of view.


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
German to Italian
+ ...
Interpreters vs translators Nov 30, 2003

Svetozar Georgiev wrote:

As for interpreting, the commonest difficulty I've had is that sometimes people who understand the SL, start talking before I have interpreted the unit. Similarly, lack of coherence may be very dangerous for the interpreter, as he may lose the meaning, if any at all.


That's why I'm not an interpreter and I'll never be. I need time to think before I translate. And that's probably why interpreters are always nervous, frustrated, schizophrenic etc. (at least, this is what translators may say ) And by the way, if interpreters say that translators are obese couch potatoes, who spend day and night in front of a screen... they may have a point, at least in my case


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HRiley  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tact, diplomacy and a lot of patience! Dec 1, 2003

Aquileo wrote:

HRiley wrote:

My most dreaded scenario is when clients with limited knowledge of either the source or target language take it upon themselves to revise my translation, proudly informing me that I've made mistakes ("that's not how you say xxxxxx in English"), or that there are omissions because I've reordered the syntax or sentence structure.


How do you deal with clients that try to correct your work? It would be interesting for me to add this kind of experiences in my research paper because it is mostly an attitude from the client rather than knowledge about the language, from my personal point of view.


If the client's remarks are justified, or if they simply have a preference for another word or synonym, I explain my choice of words or structure and then let them decide. If they suggest a word or term that works well, I find it doesn't hurt to agree enthusiastically. It does wonders for their ego and they are more likely to agree with you on more complicated issues.

If the suggestions or changes the client wants to make are completely wrong or misguided, I quote my sources (dictionaries, glossaries, first hand experience) and back up my point with examples. I find that, on the whole, if you can prove that you didn't just choose a term randomly, but that you have carefully researched the terminology used in the translation, then they tend to accept that.


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Dora Ilie  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:55
English to Romanian
+ ...
Translator and Interpreter in industry Dec 16, 2003

I point out my experience as a translator and interpreter in industry as this is different form the other experiences. As a translator, you often discover that a lot of the technical terms in the dictionary are not the ones they really use in a factory. It happens that the workers in a factory (I had this experience in older factories) built up their own technical terms and they hardly accept the ones generally used (even if they know them. In the case the translation is meant for them, you need a close collaboration with the employees in that company, otherwise you run the risk they say you do not know your job.It's like a very restricted technical domain. I do not know if anyone of you had this experience.
As an interpreter in industrial background it happened to me to collaborate with people having poor knowledge of linguistics, strict technical specialization (engineers) but unfortunately (!!!) having some very poor knowledge of foreign languages (no idea of grammar or topics, etc.). They are the ones feeling very free in correcting you on spot, while you are interpreting. It happened I stopped in the middle of the conversation and gently explained the grammar problem or the matter of synonyms, etc.The moment they understand you don't play by the ear, as they do, you are the boss! Possibly these are isolated cases but they are annoying indeed.


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Elfen36
Spanish to English
Deadlines Apr 21, 2016

The biggest problems I believe translators face, or rather I've faced as a translator is that many clients have no idea how complicated translation is and often request rush translations of extremely technical documents such as legal documentation. They think it should be extremely easy. I also agree with the comment where people believe that translators are dictionaries in human form and think that translators know every word in both the source language and the target language which obviously would negate the need for glossaries and dictionaries (online and physical).

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