What if a proofreading job turns out to be repairing a lousy translation?
Thread poster: Amir1
Amir1
English
+ ...
Aug 14, 2004

I would like to know what I'm supposed to do if the proofreading job I'm doing now turned out to be "heavy and time consuming" repair of a lousy translation". There is hardly a single sentence which doesn't need repair.

By the way what is the definition and approximate rate of "proofreading", "editing" and "repairing a bad translation" compared to one's translation rate?

Thank you so much.

[Edited at 2004-08-14 19:32]


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 09:01
German to Romanian
+ ...
Notify the client Aug 14, 2004

and tell them how things stand. If it's a reputable company, they should have a way of dealing with this situation. However, since the translation is so lousy, I doubt it's a good agency. Proofreading should be charged by hour, to be on the safe side in such cases.
HTH


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
My thought Aug 14, 2004

My thought is that if it is that lousy, then it is a translation job, period. Just throw it in the wastebasket and start over anew.

The client probably will not agree with that, but you do not have to agree that it is an editing job either.


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baroni  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
It happened to me too Aug 14, 2004

Amir1 wrote:

I would like to know what I'm supposed to do if the proofreading job I'm doing now turned out to be "heavy and time consuming" repair of a lousy translaion. There is hardly a single sentence which doesn't need repair.

By the way what is the definition and approximate rate of "proofreading", "editing" and "repairing a bad translation" compared to one's translation rate?

Thank you so much.




The customer assured me that the translation needed a fast "reading", in order to be sure that everything was ok. As I opened the file I saw it was not translated by a native speaker, you can imagine the result! I called the customer IMMEDIATELY and told him that the text needed to be translated again. He trusted me because he had already some suspects about the quality of the translation (despite of what he had told me before hand!!). I applied an hourly rate.

Good luck
Francesca


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:01
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
If it's Friday to Monday, you're maybe stuck Aug 14, 2004

It happened to me recently.

Conclusion: I should have scrutinzed the text more thoroughly before accepting the job - I could then have discussed it with the agency before they took the weekend off.


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Amir1
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Already notified them Aug 14, 2004

Mats Wiman wrote:

It happened to me recently.

Conclusion: I should have scrutinzed the text more thoroughly before accepting the job - I could then have discussed it with the agency before they took the weekend off.



I have already told them that the translation is bad and word for word and needs a lot of repair but they seem not to have cared about my notification. They are paying me 20% of my translation rate for this "proofreading" job and I feel I'm doing 75% of the job.

As for scrutinizing, it is a big job (about 5000 words) and I can not scrutinize everything. The first few pages looked reasonable, then the more I proceeded with the text the worser the translation got!

Thanks for your input.
Amir

[Edited at 2004-08-14 21:59]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:01
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
It's just happened to me as well Aug 14, 2004

I would certainly say on an hourly rate basis, but what if they ask you for an estimate in advance and you give one which turns out to be far too low? This just happened to me and I felt obliged to stick to the agreed amount and still do a thorough job so that I would not be associated with a lousy translation.
The rest of this is cross-posted from the "Business Issues" forum.

I have just finished proofreading one of these.
It started with the agency sending me one part of a 60,000 word job split four ways (Russian-English, electrical engineering). Great pressure to get it back quickly, allegedly from the customer, but maybe the agency was just trying to impress. Sent it in. Mine was the first part including all the chapter headings with page numbers. Of course I left the numbers out apart from my own part, as the page numbering in English was bound to be different and I had no idea what it would be in the other parts.
After receiving all the parts, customer complains about lack of page numbering. I'm asked to do this for all parts. They are sent to me in about ten files, in no logical order. I finally sort them out (working on a payment per hour basis) but am greatly hampered by the fact that two of the translators, instead of numbering headings and subheadings as in the original, just started automatic numbering from 1 in their own parts. Finally got this sorted out and got the chapter headings numbered. I then asked if I should go on and correct all the subheadings too, but was told, no, there was no time for this, so sent it in as it was.
Customer then complains about the meaningless subheadings. I'm asked to sort that out too, and do so, on the same basis.
I then heard no more for about a month, apart from being paid by the agency, which to its credit, is a very prompt payer.
The agency then says the customer wants a complete proofreading on the whole thing (no wonder, as it turned out) and I am asked to give a price for this in advance, which I do. I then proofread it, which takes much longer than the estimate, because it turns out that of the other three translators, only one is a native English speaker. The other two are very good on electrical engineering (probably better than I am), but their English is so weird as to be incomprehensible in many places (for example, one of them thinks that the noun form from affect/effect is affection, so writes about the "affection" of the controls on a process). One of them obviously tried to set up "provided for" in AutoCorrect to print out with a key combination, probably pf, but failed to notice that he had made an error in the autocorrect entry so that it came out as "provide ford" every time (about 40 times!) Anyway, I finally finish it in about five times the time I had estimated, but feel obliged to stick to the agreed price. At least it is now in a form I am not ashamed to be associated with. I send it off to the agency (157 pages) late at night, and check early the next morning, just after opening of office hours, to make sure they have it. Yes, they have, they're very grateful, they've already sent it off to the customer (who has now waited about five weeks for what was supposed to be an urgent job). This shows how much checking the agency itself does of work coming in to them, i.e., none.
One wonders how some of these people stay in business.


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Selçuk Budak  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:01
English to Turkish
+ ...
Agencies and clients should be aware of the fact that cheap translation is actually not so cheap Aug 14, 2004

In a normal translation process, you are limited only by your typing speed.
But in proofreading, your task is threefold.
First, you read the source text, then the target text, and you have to undersdand both of them.
Secondly, you are to compare source and target texts mentally. This alone takes longer time than required for a usual translation provided that your typing speed is good.

Then, if you feel uneasy with the translation, you try to pin point the things that disturbs you. And this too alone requires much more mental effort than a usual translation.

And finally, after struggling with certain disturbing emotions (trying to be impartial, fear of being wrong, or of being opposed or even attacked by the original translator, or of hurting him/her, etc.)you try to figure out how to "improve" the target text.

And not too infrequently, you end up translating it from starch!

Therefore, as a rule, I reject requests for proofreading automatically. And instead, suggest retranslation.

Recently, I was doing a translation of a manual supposed to be a major copy & paste operation, and occasional new translations. Noticing gross mistranslations in the old version, I totally ignored it and started from starch, informing my client about such mistranslations. They offered me an additional 50% of the agreed price for correcting them! I told them that I have done it already! And they spontaneously offered me agreed price + 25%.

The lesson to be learnt in any case is that eventually cheap translation turns out to be much more expensive than required.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
inform the client Aug 15, 2004

Amir1 wrote:

I would like to know what I'm supposed to do if the proofreading job I'm doing now turned out to be "heavy and time consuming" repair of a lousy translation". There is hardly a single sentence which doesn't need repair.

By the way what is the definition and approximate rate of "proofreading", "editing" and "repairing a bad translation" compared to one's translation rate?

Thank you so much.

[Edited at 2004-08-14 19:32]
HI inform the client about proof-rewriting ( which you do not do) so it needs to be translated.
Rgds
Brandis


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
hourly rate or return to translator Aug 15, 2004

Hello,

I have done a lot of proofreading and always do it using my hourly rate. When the translation is done by people with no experience in the subject matter or by experient translators who allocate their jobs to beginners and do not check their work before delivery to clients and the quality is too poor for me to edit in a reasonable time and with reasonable quality I simply explain the situation to the company and advise them to send the work back to the translator for revision.

I have done this a few times with extraordinary results. This saves money to the client and informs the translator that irregular work will go back to him/her again for revision at his/her cost.

We all have a name to preserve and should be held accountable for our work.

Kind regards,
Mónica Machado
English into European Portuguese Translator
Member of APT, ITI and IOL


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fcl
France
Local time: 09:01
German to French
+ ...
a pinch of salt Aug 16, 2004

[quote]Amir1 wrote:

I would like to know what I'm supposed to do if the proofreading job I'm doing now turned out to be "heavy and time consuming" repair of a lousy translation". There is hardly a single sentence which doesn't need repair.

**************

First thing is not to get trapped, as has been said before. We all know that proofreading is more perilous than tranlating: you got to translate _and_ to understand your colleague's point of view. Spending the time it takes to review source and target thoroughly before okaying to anything is the best investment we can make. Besides, this overview may help if we actually do the proofreading.

Now once trapped (and we all get trapped now and then), reaction may vary according to circumstances: is it a long term client (explain the problem and ask for a next time vanilla nice paid job f. i. if they are stucked with a budget), a one timer passing by (quit as early as possible if he doesn't want to pay the right fees, losing a one time client is not losing anything), a new client (it may be a bad but also a good start, this has to be estimated)? There are no golden rules, no fixed fees, it is always about time spent.

Last case, maybe, is the colleague shouting for help, and for that we only have to remember last time we were caught alone in the dark and clench out teeth. Not everything is about money, isn't it?

Cheers,
François


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